Music City and Lou Holtz Highlight RLPSA’s “Amped Up” Annual Conference

RLPSA incoming president Octavio Jara of McDonald's (left) with keynote speaker Lou Holtz

Nashville was the place to be this week as the Restaurant Loss Prevention & Security Association (RLPSA) celebrated its 40th annual conference with great networking, education content, food, fun, and a few birthday surprises.

Music City was the perfect backdrop for this year’s “Amped Up” themed event kicking off Sunday night with a networking reception at the Renaissance Downtown Nashville in the heart of the city. Typically billed as a “smaller conference,” it is getting hard to use that label with record attendance this year and more restaurant, quick-service, and even traditional retail attendees than ever. The draw? An agenda packed with valuable sessions, great speakers, and content that impacts just about everyone, whether in the food service or hospitality industry or beyond.

In what was probably a “first-ever” for a retail loss prevention-related event, Monday morning’s kickoff session started with the typical opening comments but quickly broke into an all-out party with musical group Industrial Rhythm taking command and control of the room with a raucous, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, drumstick smashing, mini-concert that even had RLPSA President Rocco Prate on stage in disguise with a drum percussion solo that wowed and surprised the crowd when the disguise was removed.

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US Navy Commander Scott Waddle

Scott Waddle

The opening keynote speaker was retired US Navy Commander Scott Waddle who was the captain of the naval submarine Greeneville, and a rising star in the US Navy, at the time of a tragic incident where the submarine hit a Japanese research vessel, sinking the ship and killing nine passengers on board. With a diverse message of leadership, loss, and redemption, Waddles shared his top elements of leadership and command:

  • Lead by example, invoke exacting standards, listen, communicate effectively and with a sense of purpose and meaning;
  • Foster a climate of trust, build up your people, improve the quality of life for those around you; and lastly
  • Be accountable for your action.

And accountable he was, as following a tragic loss of life under his command and control, Commander Waddle stood up to take responsibility of the event and the loss in leading by example. As he has worked to move past the tragedy, make amends, and continue forward in life, his closing, poignant message—in life, you will have set backs and some of them may be great setbacks, but do not let that define you.

Family Feud Focused on Disruptive Behaviors
After a quick networking break, the conference took a much lighter tone as LPM’s own Kevin McMenimen took the stage as game show host in a spoof version of The Family Feud, designed as a fun and light-hearted means to deliver the recent RLPSA survey on disruptive guests and “Survey Says” it was just that. With teams of practitioners and solution providers matching the Team 1 Disruptive Family against the Team 2 Dysfunctional Family, the survey data was relayed along with a few fun responses sprinkled in for a few laughs before the transition to a strong, and more serious panel discussion on disruptive guests.

McMenimen moderated the engaging panel with industry leaders Rocco Prate from Wendy’s, Dan Moren from Starbucks, Tim Hall from 7-Eleven, as well as with subject-matter expert Jesse Stanley from Strongside Principles, as the panel defined and discussed disruptive behavior and shared best practices, active solutions, and test pilots in the continuing efforts to impact behavior. The common theme for all these companies in working to address safety and positive customer experience is a focus on impacting customer behavior by first impacting employee behavior through training and awareness efforts with programs designed to effect attitude, self-awareness, and positive interaction with every customer.

Exhibition Hall Feature Over 70 Vendors
The exhibit hall was a big focus at this year’s event, with breakfast, lunch, and evening hours across two days giving more time with exhibitors than ever before, which was much needed time given there were more exhibitors than ever at this year’s event. Solutions provider interactions, networking, and great food was interrupted regularly with a few birthday surprises with the celebration of RLPSA’s 40th birthday with cupcakes and even cash giveaways.

Breakout sessions and general sessions focused on security and safety including a great panel discussion on active threat and workplace violence, which was all-too timely with the recent heart-breaking events in Dayton and El Paso.

Lou Holtz’s “Game Plan for Success”

Lou Holtz

A major highlight on Tuesday was a keynote session delivered by the very dynamic Lou Holtz, coach, motivator, and all-around great guy. Speaking to a packed room as one of the most successful college football coaches of all time, Holtz held the crowd with his “Game Plan for Success” presentation, a lesson in overcoming challenges while focusing on both setting and achieving your goals in life. No matter whether you are a college football fan or not, or how many times you’ve heard Lou Holtz speak, there is always many practical takeaways delivered with all of the passionate, intentional, meaningful, and heartfelt delivery that is Lou Holtz. Following are a few words of wisdom from his presentation:

  • He said he was born with a silver spoon and it wasn’t for the type of house he lived in or the materialistic things that he had because he had very little. It was because he was what he was taught by his parents.
  • “Life is not about having problems, it’s about how you handle them.”
  • “Players will determine if you are a leader.”
  • “Don’t go through life being a spectator.”
  • “Everything starts with a dream.”
  • “Believe in the fundamentals.”
  • “Attack the performance, not the performer.”
  • “The madder you get the softer you should speak.”
  • “Don’t maintain; you are either growing or you are dying.”
  • “You either stay down or you pick yourself up. Quitting is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.”
  • “Ask yourself, ‘What is important now?’ even if its 25 times a day.”
  • Everyone needs 4 things in life: “Something to do, someone to love, someone to believe in. and something to hope for.”

No surprise that Holtz said his greatest accomplishment in life was his family. In dealing with his wife he learned he must say, “Honey, I was wrong, and you were right. I am sorry, please forgive me, and I love you.” He also said, “Make sure your kids know how much you love their mother.”

As far as his take on what makes a leader, Holtz said, “A leader has a vision where they want to take the organization. A leader has a plan on how they are going to get there. A leader leads by example and hold people accountable for the choices they make.” Here are Holtz’s three rules in life:

  1. Do what is right and don’t be bitter.
  2. Do everything to the very best of your ability with the time allotted.
  3. Show people you care.

Holtz’s presentation ended with a standing ovation.

2020 Event to Take Place in Orlando
The Tuesday evening networking event, sponsored by Fire King, was at the George Jones Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, a multi-leveled facility offering a variety of ambiances depending upon your mood. There was excitement and energy in the air as well as great food, great music, and a great atmosphere.

With the RLPSA president tenure only lasting one year, the conference ended on Wednesday with the announcement and passing of the torch from incumbent Rocco Prate to Octavio Jara of McDonald’s. Jara will lead the organization toward next year’s event at the Renaissance SeaWorld in Orlando Florida, August 2–4, 2020. For more information about the RLPSA, visit their website.

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