5 Quotes from Shakeshack CEO Danny Meyer to Inspire Your Professional Journey



Shinya Suzuki; Shake Shack (Times Square)

Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns and manages many of the beautiful, iconic restaurants that stud the New York, New York skyline: Shake Shack, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, and The Modern among them, serves as an inspiration to business owners and employees of all levels.

It’s clear he has risen through the ranks of his industry without sacrificing his values. While he focuses on the hospitality industry, here are five quotes you can takeaway from his experience to guide your own:

1. “You can’t let challenges argue you out of doing what you know is the right thing.” 

Often times when you’re trying to move up in a company, aiming for those bonuses, or just job hunting for your dream job, you’ll get quite a few naysayers — many of whom are in your head, but some might have sat with you over coffee or changed your diapers at one point.

Just because there are people telling you to stop because they don’t understand your passion, because your desired path is difficult, or because the situation at hand is hard to manage, doesn’t mean your calling is to do something else. If you know that what you want to do is a good move for you and for those around you, then conquer those obstacles and fight for what you want.

2. “I just think the best way for me to be greedy is long-term greedy.”

We all know that we should finish that report and take those calls instead of using the free WiFi to browse Instagram for just a second, but sometimes you just feel like you’re missing out on some gossip. Newsflash: you’ll still have opportunities down the line for some well-earned social media hedonism, and it doesn’t pay to break deadline or a promise to an employer. Sacrifice that short-term fun for long-term success.

3. “Sometimes, early in their careers, chefs make the mistake of adding one too many things to a plate to get attention. If a chef is just coming up with wiz-bang gimmicks on their plate, that has nothing to do with bringing real pleasure to people.”

Outside of school, extra credit doesn’t always count towards your total score. If you got that fancy resume and portfolio down, but you’re not familiar enough with your dream position’s skill-set: coding, SEO, leadership skills, work ethic, etc, then you won’t seem like a good fit to the company. You need a good base to a cake or the whole thing crumbles when you ice it. Work on yourself and make sure that you’re demonstrating not only what you’ve learned, but your willingness to continue learning. Which brings me to:

4. “It’s always imperative to improve and to remain dynamic – or you’ll become lunch, as opposed to serving it.”

Even the most successful people have run into walls after they’ve stopped learning. One of the most important things things to do out of school is to continue growing with every new experience and every new opportunity. Don’t let complacency take over. Make sure that you’re acquiring new skills and are still as quick on your feet as that one time you weren’t really paying attention to the professor but gave a fantastic answer anyway.

5. “When the economy goes sour, there are three different kinds of restaurants that do well: the smaller-scale neighborhood restaurants that don’t ask much of you; those that have banked enormous goodwill by offering great value during the boom; and those with proven records of excellence, a sure thing.”

Not everyone becomes unemployed in a bad economy, and not everyone stays that way. Figure out how to best showcase your value and build your reputation as someone who can not only do the job, but keeps deadline and promises, and shows leadership potential, even if it’s just on your own time with your own projects.

The people who show that they can not only take on a workload but manage it without hiccups are the people that companies will want to hire and promote.


Let us know in the comments some other leaders who inspire you, and how have you used their words to guide your professional path!

About the Author

Partner Sales & Community Development for FindSpark. I am also The Pomelo Girl at elemonated.wordpress.com. The Silicon Alley made and raised me, but the Silicon Valley is my next frontier.

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