I got the chance a couple of weeks ago to attend the CHART Regional meeting in Louisville, KY at the enormous and expansive Papa John’s Corporate Campus. What a great opportunity to network and I got to meet some “internet” faces. It is always so cool to come face to face with people you blog and twitter with daily. No pun intended but people are so much larger than life in person!

I got to meet Jeff McLanahan, and Terry Mayhem from Papa John’s. Also one of my favorite e-learning gurus from DiscoverLink, Jeff Tenut. Then to top it off, in walks John Schnatter, Papa John himself and he looks just like he does on his commercials. Right behind him is Jude Thompson, COO/President at Papa John's. Now I gotta be honest, I didn’t expect a ton from these two…..small room, no real big wigs in site besides them so I expected the courteous welcome and exit stage right. But what came next was a lesson in leadership centered on VALUES and developing people. Yep, values and people. I love those two things more than anything and I was fixin’ to get inspired. I couldn’t stop my pencil from writing! Let me share just a few of the quotes that came out of his stories and there were a lot of them!

“To get from #3 in pizza sales to #2 it is going to take our people”

“My job is to get 1000 people pulling on the same rope”

“If everyone wins they get excited about themselves and produce more”

“Anxiety is contagious and that’s not something you want to catch”

“If people get isolated they stop communicating”

“It’s good to be on a winning team”

“We are partners”

“We can double team things when we work together”

“I don’t know how business went from 2+2=4 to 2+2=8 but you can bet that math caused our current economy”

“If you don’t take care of the peasant farmers they will rise up and burn down the castle you live in”

“I haven’t laid anyone off, it was expensive, but I haven’t laid anyone off.”

Did you hear what I heard?
1. It’s the people stupid
2. It’s not about you
3. If you are confused about what to do, refer to number one!

And while you are it, tell them the truth….

Better Ingredients, Better Pizza

John Schnatter and his team believe it and it is self-evident in his team’s body language and engagement. The next time I need a quick pizza, I am going to give his product a try. Mission accomplished John and thanks for reinforcing my belief that values and a focus on people can happen in a major corporation while you make a ton of cash!

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Tags: Johns, Papa, Swingley, leadership, pizza, restaurant, values


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Comment by Andy Swingley on June 8, 2009 at 9:02am
@Sean - thanks and yes Texas Roadhouse does put out that same energy, don't they!

@Jeff...that Carnegie fellow was brilliant and ahead of his time!
Comment by Jeff on June 7, 2009 at 1:40pm
i must say, i feel better haveing read this then i did 5 minutes ago, and i've been in a good mood all day. the fact that you've only recieved one neg. comment from papa's people says a lot too. it's nice to see that in the real world the good guys can win too. also interesting to me, many of the quotes that you shared seem to be mirror examples of the principles put forth by carnegie, "how to win friends..."
Comment by Sean Moloney on June 5, 2009 at 4:35pm
As always Andy a great blog. It is nice to hear about companies that are run the way we think and run our businesses. The quote that sums it all up for me is " So goes the leader, so goes the rest". It is apparent that Papa John's sees that as does Texas Roadhouse for me.
Keep up the great inspiration sir!
Comment by Andy Swingley on June 5, 2009 at 12:57pm
Terry it was no problem and my pleasure! Thanks again for the hospitality!

Dan - I have quite a few responses to this blog from past and present Papa John's employees, supervisors, and corporate representatives and only one, yes one, responded that it wasn't exactly the way I portrayed it. That's a good sign.
Comment by Dan Parsons on June 5, 2009 at 12:25pm
I just had Papa John's the other night. Everytime I order from them I know I will receive good service and a high quality pizza. Seems pretty simple. However, in a chain as big as they are, there must be a strong core of leadership to duplicate this consistantly. It has been apparent (and even more apparent after reading your blog) that they have the recipe for success! Thank you for the quotes- I can never hear enough of them :)
Comment by Terry Mayhew on June 4, 2009 at 4:13pm
It was great meeting you at the RTF. I also enjoyed Amanda's informative and fun presentation. Jeff and I appreciate the article you wrote.
John's passion for his people has been the reason for my career choice within this company. I work for a franchisee in West Virginia and they have that same passion. It's great to work for a company such as Papa John's in this economy in which we are triving and having fun. We'll be # 2 soon!!!

I will be at the conference in Cleveland, so I hope to get to talk with you more there.
Comment by Andy Swingley on June 4, 2009 at 2:35pm
Thanks Patrick, well said!

Debra, I always appreciate hearing from you. I think number 2 in sales will come for him before he knows it.

Jeff - appreciate the response, the hospitality, and the learning. Hope to see you in Cleveland!
Comment by Jeff McLanahan on June 4, 2009 at 2:23pm
Thanks for the great article. I believe that John Schnatter and Jude Thompson "set the table" for us as a restaurant company by role modeling the behaviors that they expect from the Papa John's team members. This belief in creating and nurturing a positive culture within the company and living by a set of core values has played a large part in our first 25 years and will continue to shape our future. I was happy and proud to share John and Jude with my peers in the restaurant industry and I am glad that it made an impression on you!
Thank you very much,
Jeff McLanahan, PHR
Senior Director, Restaurant Training
Comment by Patrick Dumont on June 4, 2009 at 9:33am
It is all about the people......You realized that when you interviewed and hired me right?

No really the better the "team" or the people you put together the better quality of work you get. All you have to do is provide them with the correct tools a little guidance then set them on thier way. Throughout your day while traveling on your critical path you swing by check on how things are going.

If all is going well a quick word of praise a pat on the back then move on to the next person. I some correction is needed do so in a positive manner with a word of encouragement then set them on thier way again. With cyclical follow-up, quick praise, and even quicker corrective action you can keep them on the right path making your day just that much easier.

After several tries if sucess is not happening then maybe a different career path should be in the works.

But it all comes down to the people if the people dont work the guest will find somewhere else that it does.




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