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National Restaurant Association - 'Magic' and majesty: NBA legend on point with business-savvy advice

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'Magic' and majesty: NBA legend on point with business-savvy advice

A winning mindset and attitude are the keys to success, entrepreneur and pro-basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson told a packed house during his keynote speech at the NRA Show.

Appearing May 18 before a standing-room-only crowd, Johnson said his life ethos and work ethic made him the success he is today. “You have got to have a winning mindset and attitude if you are going to win in the restaurant world,” he said. “I had to have an attitude that any game we played we could win.”

Johnson, a long-time owner-operator of Starbucks, T.G.I. Friday’s and Fatburger restaurants in urban locations, as well as Sodexo Magic, which caters to American Airlines, Disneyland and Disney World, and Allstate Insurance, said one of the most important lessons he’s learned is to continually reinvest in his businesses and never take money out of the business.
“All of you out there who are business owners, you’ve got to reinvest in your businesses,” he said. “The key to my success in building my 125 [Starbucks stores] was I didn’t take any money out. I let the first one build the second one, the second build the third, the third one build the fourth and so on. I reinvested back into the business and took very little out until it was time."

Here is some of his other advice to restaurateurs:

•    Always know your customer. “That is very important. You also have to speak to that customer each and every day because now they have too many choices. And it’s important you drive great customer service and make sure your food is hot, fresh, and that whatever you’re selling is delivered on a consistent basis.”

•    Stay current with technology. “Make sure you’ve got the latest and greatest technology. Everything that comes out, I’m always grabbing it if it’s going to make me quicker, faster or able to deliver great customer service or whatever I’m dealing with.”

•    Don’t grow too big too fast, and measure how much to handle. “Look, we all want growth and sustainability, right? Don’t grow too fast and don’t take on contracts that you can’t deliver. If you ever take on too much and you can’t handle it, you’re going to be in trouble because the word is going to get around. Grow at a slow, disciplined rate and don’t forget that with those new contracts, you’ve got to add more people.”

•    Give staff the ingredients for success. “Make sure your people are quality experts at what they do.”

•    Don’t hire family members unless they’re experts at what they’re doing. “If you don’t have the right people running your business, you will fail. I’ll say it one more time: no family members.”

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