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Notes from Shake Shack Owner Danny Meyer

By January 26, 2020No Comments

Notes from a Tony Robbins’ podcast where he interviews Danny Meyers:

“Hospitality Quotient”: as opposed to simply IQ or EQ

1. Kindness and Optimism (‘…skeptics and cynics don’t usually care how other people feel’)
2. Intellectual Curiosity
3. Work Ethic
4. Empathy
5. Self Awareness
6. Integrity

Danny says the above cannot be taught and trained, but can be detected through interviews.

Interesting hiring practices at Southwest Airlines and Zappos.

Danny says that when he gives a talk about company vision and values etc, usually there are a couple people who fall asleep etc. He makes sure that he adds at the end that “Hey, you don’t really need this job. You could go out and find any other job that you want. If this doesn’t really excite you, don’t expect any sympathy from me if tomorrow you wake up in the morning and don’t feel good about going to work. Your life and happiness is more important than this job.”

You can’t do more for your employees than they can do for each other! It’s a team sport – you need to tell employees to take care of each other and become the single biggest reason for each other’s happiness.

Can-will chart:


“Can, will” represents the behaviours that you really want to encourage and celebrate.
“Can, won’t” represents an attitude problem – you can do something, but you won’t do it. This is where the leader’s job is to inspire and set an example! And if a person doesn’t change, then they should be let go because it rots the culture otherwise.
“Can’t” things are a skill/fit issue. If someone has a good attitude, you can move them to a different position or train them instead of getting rid of them.

Culture is like the salt shaker at the center of a dining table. After service, that shaker is almost always moved from the center. Your job as the manager/leader is to not get angry at the shaker or the world or the customers etc, but rather to simply push the shaker back to the center whenever it’s shaken. You’re always keeping an eye on the shaker and nudging it back to center if you see it’s off. You don’t react, you stay centered.

Athletic director at UCLA (hall of fame): “Culture is just like a baby. You watch it 24×7, you feed it 7 times a day, and when it makes a mess you better clean it up immediately.”

As a leader:
Express what success looks like (where are we going, and how you’re supposed to behave on that way).
If anything good happens, shine the light on you when good things happen, shine the light on both when you screw up, and when I screw up shine the light solely on myself.

Hospitality can be achieved even with a hot dog cart, and customers will line up. It’s not exclusive to fancy/formal establishments.

Going slow is a good way to expand without going out of business. Shake Shack doesn’t franchise.

You take something people already know, cook it better than they knew, you treat customers better than they expect, and the people truly understand why they come to work and are rooting for each other and are included in company success (stock in company etc), then you can do great even in a crowded market.

Entrepreneurs only see “up”, not “down”. They’re dreamers. They should surround themselves with people who can see down as well.

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