The Restaurant Loss Prevention and Safety Association (RLPSA) kicked off its annual conference in Dallas, TX, on Sunday with record attendance, starting with a golf event that was followed by a welcome reception for all attendees. With Monday being the first full day of the conference, and this year’s theme of “Game On,” even the opening comments gave a feeling of game day as the president of the association, Rocco Prate (The Wendy’s Company) took the stage like a head coach in the locker room, pumping up his “team” for the event ahead.
“Every year, we say we need to adapt to changing times, and this year is no different,” said Prate. “This year, the challenge calls for all of us to practice, to train and to lead—driving results by being game-day ready and meeting challenges head on with grit and determination. This year, we look change in the face and say bring it on. Game on!”
Because you can’t have a real game without a real referee, the opening keynote speaker was none other than Ed Hochuli, NFL referee—who also happens to be a lawyer seeking justice on and off the field, Hochuli offered an engaging perspective on “Managing a Crisis,” comparing the unpredictability of an NFL game with that of the challenges of nearly any business—sharing the common need for preparation as the key in addressing any crisis situation.
“When people do the minimum, and just do what they need to do to get by, then when a crisis happens, they don’t know what to do or how to react—that makes it a crisis,” says Hochuli, stressing that a situation is not a crisis if you’ve prepared for it. If you’ve planned and practiced ahead of time, you defuse the crisis. He then provided key takeaways for every leader and every reader:
PREPARE: Don’t just review a process, practice it. Train for it. Know the possible actions and outcomes and when they happen you’ll know what to do—you’ll be prepared to act, calmly and professionally. When you don’t know what’s going to happen next, if something happens, it becomes a crisis. But when you know how to handle it, when you prepare and practice, it’s no longer considered a crisis because you’re ready for it. It’s never talent that determines success. It’s practice and preparation.
ATTITUDE: Refuse not to be the best. Attitude is everything to winning. No one wins on raw talent. The “best” are those who prepare, practice, train, and bring the attitude that they won’t settle for second best. Make the decision that you will not be an Average Joe. Don’t accept average in yourself, and use that attitude to help inspire others.
FAILURE: We all fail—and it’s OK. The key is deciding what you do with that failure. Do you let it bring you down, or do you use it to drive you to do better? Failure gives us strength. Learn from failure. Use it to do better.
MOTIVATION: Motivation is important. People thrive on positive motivation and reinforcement. Think about how you motivate others. How often do you tell your team how well they did? Check yourself and make it a point to kick yourself in the rear and stay motivated to succeed.
RECOGNITION: Everyone deserves and appreciates a pat on the back. Remember that recognition for a job well done often means more than money.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Stand in front of your team, and stand behind them. Your team needs to see you’re willing to go to bat for them. Be creative in how you help your people. Don’t expect people will work as hard as you do—that’s why you’re in the position you’re in. You worked hard, you had the attitude, you practiced, and you achieved it. Now motivate your team to excel, and groom your people to want to do more, do better and succeed. Finally, recognize when your team isn’t working. Sometimes you need to change players, and that’s all part of leading a winning team.
Prepare and Practice
Prepare and practice was a theme throughout the day, underscored by the message delivered by Paul Johnson, chief of global security for Papa John’s pizza in a presentation on cyber security and how to mitigate the insider threat.
“Hackers get the headlines, but a data breach is more likely to happen inside your organization,” Johnson explained, crediting the significant exposure built on the unintentional threats stemming from carelessness or a lack of knowledge or skills within your workforce. “Outside actors take full advantage of trusted insider vulnerabilities. Hackers don’t need to break in through back doors when they have a username and password that will walk them right in the front door; where no alarms or bells or whistles will go off. Who needs a back door when you can steal the keys and walk through the front door unnoticed?”
To avoid and deter this, preparation and practice is critical. Training and awareness when communicating the message is only half the battle—you have to put the training into practice. Engage with mock phishing exercises that test your employees and teach them the process, using suspect emails that may be testing your vulnerabilities. This helps it become part of their everyday game plan.
Change up your plays and your passwords. Practice password security and force changes every 60-90 days. Identify and coach one-on-one with your weakest players to increase their skills in identifying potential threats and ensuring the whole team wins together. As echoed by Rocco and by Ed Hochuli, “Practice for game day to prevent and avoid crisis.” Paul also reinforced the importance of celebrating success, leveraging recognition to reward—and to motivate.
The afternoon breakout sessions continued to motivate and drive home the message of winning, and the sold-out exhibit hall was a win for practitioners and solution providers alike, providing opportunity for both to learn each other’s plays, recruit new players, and celebrate success. But there’s more to this series with day two coming tomorrow. Game On!
Photo caption: Rocco Prate, president of RLPSA, speaking at the event reception.