Will Guidara is the author of the National Bestseller UNREASONABLE HOSPITALITY, which chronicles the lessons in service and leadership he has learned over the course of his career in restaurants. He is the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, which under his leadership received four stars from the New York Times, three Michelin stars, and in 2017 was named #1 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Intention means every decision, from the most obviously significant to the seemingly mundane, matters.”
  • “My dad says “The best way to learn is to teach.” He taught me to study for tests as if I were going in to deliver a presentation. At EMP, I made teaching part of our culture.”
    • “Public speaking is a leadership skill.”
  • Excellence is about small details — A couple of examples of that were lighting and music.
    • “Maybe people don’t notice every single individual detail, but in aggregate, they’re powerful. In any great business, most of the details you closely attend to are ones that only a tiny, tiny percentage of people will notice.”
  • “Some of the best advice I ever got about starting in a new organization is; Don’t cannonball. Ease into the pool.”
  • Magic: “Too many people approach creative brainstorming by taking what’s practical into consideration way too early in the process. Start with what you want to achieve, instead of limiting yourself to what’s realistic or sustainable.”
  • “Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” – Penn and Teller
  • “Often, the perfect moment to give someone more responsibility is before they’re ready.”
  • The daily 30-minute meeting: “A daily 30-minute meeting is where a collection of individuals becomes a team.”
  • Find hidden treasures: Will’s dad had his own platoon in Vietnam. It wasn’t a great platoon. On it was a guy nicknamed Kentucky, Kentucky was lazy and wasn’t in great shape. He wasn’t that smart, but he was skilled directionally and had a great feel for being in the woods. 
    • “A leader’s responsibility is to identify the strengths of the people on their team, no matter how buried those strengths might be.”
  • “Business like life is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple and that hard.” – Danny Meyer
  • “In restaurants, our reason for being is to make people feel, seen, it’s to make them feel welcome, it’s to give them a sense of belonging. The food, the service, the design, they are simply ingredients in the recipe of human connection”
  • “The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. I still give The One Minute Manager to every person I promote. It’s an amazing resource, in particular on how to give feedback. My biggest takeaways were: Criticize the behavior, not the person. Praise in public; criticize in private. Praise with emotion, criticize without emotion.”
  • “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
  • “What criticism offers you, then, is an invitation to have your perspective challenged—or at least to grow by truly considering it. You might stick with a choice you’ve been criticized for or end up somewhere completely different. The endgame isn’t the point as much as the process: you grow when you engage with another perspective and decide to decide again.”
  • “The aggregation of marginal gains,” or a small improvement in a lot of areas. In his words: “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”
  • Apply to be part of my Leadership Circle

Time Stamps

00:34 – Lessons from Dad

06:24 – Questions to Ask for Better Health

13:41 – 3 Tactical Steps to Better Health

22:52 – Ways to Get Back on Track After Taking a Break from Exercise

29:58 – The Goal is Not 100% Success

33:41 – The Mindset to Work With Lebron James & Arnold Schwarzenegger

41:34 – Be Generous With Those You Collaborate With

42:59 – Always Choose Kindness

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership