This year’s Welcome Conference in New York City took place Monday, June 3, 2019. Hundreds of hospitality professionals joined hosts Will Guidara, Anthony Rudolf, and Brian Canlis to share a day of chock full of insights and storytelling from a range of speakers, including Simon Sinek, Alpana Singh, Seth Godin, and Rick Bayless. Below are a few of our favorite soundbites from several sessions.
“It’s not the value of the coin, it’s the warmth between the hands exchanging it.” – Gary Obligacion
As General Manager of the Post Ranch Inn, a resort in Big Sur, California, Obligacion is one of the most experienced and respected dining room professionals in the country. Though he operates in the luxury world, he doesn’t let high price tags define his work. True hospitality is about caring and connection, he said, rather than a transaction.
“All of you in hospitality are parents to the public.” – Wendy Mogel
Restaurant operators often treat staff and customers like family – and some even like kids. A clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships between parents and children, Mogel believes kids need safe spaces to grow and evolve. Keep your role of authority in mind when dealing with an unruly guest, and channel your inner mom.
“Where you work must give you a reason to come to work.” – Simon Sinek
Every business needs a truly just cause, beyond making money. Simon Sinek, a self-described “unshakable optimist,” is the author of the book Start With Why and TED Talk with the same title (the third most popular of all time). He argued that the most innovative and influential organizations are the ones with a strong why behind them – a mission that people believe in. What’s yours?
“Keep your [restaurant] hours plus 10 minutes, not minus 20.” – Gabrielle Hamilton
After experiencing inhospitality at a D.C. restaurant that had closed early, Hamilton advised all restaurateurs to show some flexibility. As chef/owner behind New York City’s Prune, she’s built a space that’s intimate, comfortable, and exceptional all at once. Humanity comes first.
“You let people truly be themselves – that means they don’t have to pretend.” – Hamdi Ulukaya
Humanity, yes, and also authenticity. The founder and CEO of Chobani, a multibillion dollar packaged goods company, emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The most successful organizations allow employees and guest to bring their whole selves to the table.
“You can talk things into existence.” – Will Guidara
Guidara, co-owner of Make It Nice restaurant group, shared stories of his mother’s courage and willpower in the face of adversity. He said that if you care so much about something, be it a new food product or a restaurant, start talking about it and make it happen.
“People in your business and my business are always at the edge of failure.” – Brian Koppelman
Koppelman is a filmmaker and TV series creator who counts Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Showtime’s Billions among his project, and he said uncertainty and creativity go hand in hand. Turns out, Hollywood writers and restaurateurs have more in common than one might think.
“Authority is given. Responsibility is taken.” – Seth Godin
Godin, an author, entrepreneur, and teacher, is an expert on all things marketing and leadership. If you’re feeling stalled in your career, he said, grab some responsibility and play the long game. Alternatively, adopt an infinite mindset: remember that the journey is the destination.
Images courtesy Julia Borghini.