The Tim Ferriss Show Ep 665: Danny Meyer, Founder of Shake Shack — How to Win, The Art of The Graceful “No,” Overcoming Setbacks Podcast Summary

Danny Meyer, Founder of Shake Shack — How to Win, The Art of The Graceful “No,” Overcoming Setbacks, The 6 Traits of Exceptional People, The 4 Quadrants of Performance, Lessons from Hospitality Excellence, and More (#665) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss | Free Podcast Summary

The Tim Ferriss Show Ep 665: Danny Meyer, Founder of Shake Shack — How to Win, The Art of The Graceful “No,” Overcoming Setbacks

Danny is the author of the New York Times bestseller Setting the Table, which articulates a set of signature business and life principles that translate to a wide range of industries. He is the recipient of the 2017 Julia Child Award and was named by Time magazine as one of 2015’s 100 most influential people.

Danny and USHG’s restaurants and individuals together have won an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur in 2005.

The six traits of exceptional people

Danny shares his hiring philosophy and the six traits he looks for in potential employees: optimistic warmth, intelligence, work ethic, empathy, self-awareness, and integrity.

He explains how these traits are essential for creating a culture of hospitality and excellence in any organization. He also gives examples of how he assesses these traits in interviews and how he trains his staff to embody them.

The art of the graceful “No”

Danny talks about how he learned to say no gracefully to opportunities that did not align with his vision or values. He shares his criteria for evaluating new projects and partnerships, such as the 51 percent rule (how you make everyone else feel while you are doing a task), the 5-year test, and the gut check.

He also discusses how he communicates his decisions to others with respect and honesty, and how he deals with rejection and disappointment himself.

Winning at everything

Danny reveals his competitive mindset and how he strives to win at everything he does, from playing ping pong to running restaurants. He explains how he defines winning as creating value for others and exceeding expectations, not just beating someone else.

He also shares his strategies for winning, such as setting clear goals, practicing relentlessly, learning from failures, and celebrating successes.

Overcoming setbacks

Danny reflects on some of the biggest challenges and crises he faced in his career, such as the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure of some of his restaurants.

He describes how he coped with these situations emotionally and practically and how he used them as opportunities to innovate, adapt, and grow. He also talks about how he supported his team and community during these difficult times and how he maintained his optimism and resilience.

The 4 quadrants of performance

Danny introduces a framework he uses to evaluate the performance of his employees based on two dimensions: technical skills and emotional skills.

He explains how he categorizes people into four quadrants:

  1. stars (high on both),
  2. puzzles (high on technical, low on emotional),
  3. anchors (low on both), and
  4. prophets (low on technical, high on emotional).

He discusses how he manages each type of employee differently, and how he helps them improve their skills or find a better fit elsewhere

Lessons from hospitality excellence

Danny shares some of the principles and practices that have made his restaurants successful and beloved by customers.

He talks about how he creates a distinctive identity and personality for each restaurant, how he designs memorable experiences for guests, how he empowers his staff to make decisions and solve problems, how he handles feedback and complaints, and how he measures customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The shake shack story

Danny Meyer tells the origin story of Shake Shack, one of his most famous ventures that started as a humble hot dog cart in Madison Square Park and grew into a global phenomenon.

He explains how he came up with the concept, how he developed the menu and brand, how he scaled the business while maintaining quality and consistency, and how he took it public in 2015. He also shares some of the challenges and surprises he encountered along the way and what he learned from them.

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