Restaurant Development & Design

March-April 2015

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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2 2 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 5 Consultant's Take Have Fun (Really!) With Visionaries ANDY SIMPSON asimpson@resultsthrustrategy.com "Y You don't know how to design anything! You need to just sit down and listen and maybe you will learn something." This was the opening salvo in what eventually became a good rela- tionship with the creator of two highly successful restaurant chains during our frst meeting. Part of why I love the hospitality business as much as I do is the op- portunity to work with people who have turned their passions and ideas into places that entertain people. In dealing with these visionary entrepreneurs and founders, I've discovered that each of them has some special talent that sets them apart. As a designer and develop- ment consultant, I view it as my job to zero in on that talent and help them focus it. Yet working with them can sometimes be a challenge – founders can be a real handful for those charged with bringing their vision to life. Everyone has heard stories about what it was like to work with Steve Jobs. Many found him impossible. Those who were able to get through the famous "reality distortion feld" and have productive working relationships had to make that happen by getting around his rough edges. Amazing ideas live underneath the forbidding exte- rior. Whether you are a consultant or working as a member of the design and development team in a company led by a challenging founder, you have to develop a way to get under that exterior, make the relationship work and actually enjoy the ride. For starters, there is some great ad- vice about being a consultant in "Get- ting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty," by Patrick Lencioni that is equally valuable to restaurant execu- tives. I can't write about being a consul- tant without touching on the principles I learned from Patrick, but I'd like to add some of my own advice about suc- ceeding with some of the more creative and challenging types of entrepreneurs that we restaurant design and develop- ment folks deal with. Develop a very thick skin. There is no question that in dealing with vision- aries you often have to let a lot of shots bounce off your armor. Many innovative entrepreneurs and concept creators have become accustomed to dealing with people who can't keep up or don't quite "get" what they're really trying to do. As a test, they tend to throw out some stuff to see who can take it. I ac- tually look forward to being tested like this. If you have a good sense of humor, you can often turn a shot across the bow into an opportunity to break down some walls. The reality is that it may actually be your patience that's being tested, but they don't seem to view it that way. If you take the barbs person- ally you will never be able to get to their creative, and often insightful, vison. Be willing to disagree. Success- ful restaurateurs got to where they are for some very good reasons, but that Everyone has heard stories about what it was like to work with Steve Jobs. Many found him impossible.

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