President, Chairman & CEO
Noodles & Company
My experience has been that human beings and behavior are not unique to company size. Skills you think are entrepreneurial can exist in a large company and vice versa. It comes down to leadership and human beings.
My team is incredibly talented, experienced and we all have strong opinions. Sometimes that makes it hard to get everyone to play nice and share their toys.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the culture of our company. Are we proud of it?
No matter how entrepreneurial you are, you have to get results, have infrastructure, discipline and hold people accountable. But you also have to give people the freedom to bring their life experiences, make decisions and have a seat at the table to impact things. Achieving and maintaining that balance is the hardest part of my job.
My very best days are when I’m out in one of our restaurants and there’s a great energy and buzz. The dining room’s full, the team is confident and having a good time and the manager is proud. When I get home after a day like that, I feel very, very good.
Your expectations have to be high enough so that when you accomplish something it’s special.
I’m proud that we’re stepping up innovation in a time when we don’t have to. When things go wrong, my first inclination is to try to understand why. Then you can assess whether or not it’s fixable. If not, I want us to have the courage to cut the cord and move on.
You’d better play to win because if you just play not to lose, you lose.
There’s a lot of risk in not taking risks.
One of the things that I do really well is ask the right questions.
Lately, one of the things I worry most about is what we may be missing. I try to keep the team grounded about our success, and we don’t take anything for granted so I don’t think we’re missing any obvious, big-picture things. But I worry about some things on the margins that we should be moving on that maybe we’re not seeing.