Day 4 Phillip Yi, Coach K and my dad

Posted: June 12, 2010 in Hall of Fame Posts, Trev in LA Boot Camp

Friday is one of the busiest days in the restaurant. We were up and prepping for the day by 8:30am. The restaurant was busy most of the day and then it night it was slammed. When it gets really hectic like that the best thing for me to do is stay out of the way. As I sat watching the kitchen interact with one and other I realized that Phillip does a lot of things right with the food side of the restaurant, but probably the most impressive thing is how he treats the people on his team and how they all love what they are doing. Whether it is the dish washer, tempura fryer, cashier, waitress or the other sushi chef, they all have smiles on their face and you can see that they truly enjoy what they do.

But why are they like this? It’s not like Phillip can afford to pay them all $25 an hour to make them come in and work their asses off with a positive attitude. He can’t give them a bonus every time that they stay late or take on additional tasks. What Phillip does is treat them the right way. The best leaders that I’ve ever been around in my life have mastered this technique and Phillip is no exception. He laughs and jokes with each one of them, asks how they are doing, and knows exactly how to treat them so that they are comfortable in their environment yet are the most productive. I have seen too many people who think that leading means being the enforcer and controlling the people that work for them. That just doesn’t work. The only way is to gain the respect of your team and create a relaxed loose environment that has a collective responsibility to get the job done.

I saw the kitchen staff as a team and was reminded of my years working with the Duke Basketball team under Coach K. The way he knows how to motivate and get the most out of an individual and team was exactly what Phillip was doing in his kitchen. Coach K knows that their is no one singular formula for the way to treat people and get the most out of them because each individual is different. You have to get to know them on a personal level before you expect to develop any sort of a working relationship.

The best that I have ever seen at this is actually my dad. He has been a high school math teacher and coach in Wyoming for the past 30 years. The way that he can find a way to get along with every student or athlete he encounters is truly amazing. He knows the buttons to push, the things to say, and the things not to say to make each player to feel and recognize their value to the team. Phillips management of the kitchen is no different. Everyone knows how their roll is part of the bigger picture that is the success of the restaurant.

So, the important lesson of the day. Treat people right. Stay loose, enjoy what you’re doing and their company. Earn their respect by showing that you truly care. If they feel comfortable and see their importance, you’ve truly created a team and even more than that, a family.

  1. […] 1. “He said it, not me!” – if you’re unsure whether it’s okay to crack the cursing barrier, try this technique. Insert a cuss word into a story, but as if the other person in the story said it TO you. Trevor did this masterfully in our last meeting, where he told a story about his first time ever rolling a sushi roll at Phillip’s restaurant while he was training: […]

  2. […] Art of Meetings:… on The Art of Meetings – Wh…The Art of Meetings:… on Day 4 Phillip Yi, Coach K and … Email […]

  3. […] Challenge), about when we hit rock bottom (living in a basement in Greeley, CO), about meeting and training with our Chef/Big brother Phillip Yi, about the big change in our concept, and about today – […]

  4. […] talk about the crazy things we’ve done this past year, the amazing people we’ve met,  sushi bootcamp in Los Angeles, or how we thought of the “restaurant without a restaurant” concept to […]

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