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Hungry for Culture? 11 Business Lessons Inspired by Restaurant Royalty

As you strive to build the best workplace and culture for your business, keep in mind these these tips from the Union Square Hospitality Group brain trust.
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NewCo, a new kind of "decentralized" innovation conference, recently crawled across New York City. I heard whispers of its magic when our company hosted sessions during its San Francisco leg but after experiencing it first-hand, I can attest that its magic was understated. Dynamic companies across industries opened up their homes to present big ideas and create an ideal format for networking with an array of career superstars - from JPMorgan to Live in the Grey.

The magic of the conference, in French terms, could be described by terrior. Terroir gives wine its sense of place and some places have more than others. I'd argue that the "terrior of a business" breeds culture, innovation and community. Over the course of the two-day conference, I had the pleasure of visiting many offices (Foursquare, Outbrain, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and TED) and meeting the brains behind them. Each session was memorable in its own right but the lessons learned at Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), can and should be applied to any work environment. After all, Danny Meyer, USHG Founder, legendary restaurateur and native St. Louisan (Go Cardinals!) basically authored the bible for building culture and achieving hospitality bliss.

As you strive to build the best workplace and culture for your business, keep in mind these these tips from the USHG brain trust:

Strive to be the company that would put you out of business because "new gets old tomorrow." Honor risk-takers and allow your org chart to embrace innovation. Pause to celebrate wins and quickly move on to strive for further excellence. Most importantly, be highly allergic to mediocrity.

It all starts with hiring. Hire high-achievers. These are people that want to improve at what they do for your company. People cannot be taught to care. (Case-in-point, my friend Camilla moved across the country to work for USHG... so they must be doing something right because she's a smart cookie :)

Colleagues must first take care of one another. Build an army of people that will have your back. When you fall, they will immediately pick you back up. This critical foundation will enable you to best serve your customers and partners.

Make the process as rich as possible and make decisions for the long-term. The cost of your relationships with your customers outweighs all.

Leadership must create a culture of sharing while keeping things in equilibrium. Alignment fosters impact.

Success can be defined as being the favorite in your category. Being "the favorite" carries with it an emotional response.

Inspiration comes from celebrating failure and missteps. The most critical learnings are often birthed out of failure.

Raise your hand and ask for help.

Reputations are built on what you've done, not what you are planning to do.

Make sure that you give people the permission to do great work. There are two four-word phrases to live by: "You can do it," and "I'm rooting for you."

Respect your competition and their hard work.

As you can tell, the session was as enjoyable as the tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern or the toasted ravioli at Blue Smoke. (Seriously, you must try them.)

Don't miss NewCo if it's coming to your city. Thanks for a few great days!