THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Leadership Coach and Strategic Advisor of Quiet Advisory, David Dressler
One of David’s starting business ventures was in the restaurant industry with Tender Greens. They worked to create a stable and good environment for workers as the restaurant industry can have a rough culture behind it. David explains that through working in the restaurant industry, he and his partners learned how not to be to their team members. They decided they would be whatever the team members needed such as a guiding hand or dad figure to promote interdependent relationships within the business.
David advises that working with everyone in a business and having a conversation about building a better business is something all industries could take from the restaurant industry. Strategy is an important aspect of business, however, culture can determine how well a strategy can operate. David explains that having a better work culture can help make the strategies work much better for a business. In many businesses, they will present their work culture in one way publicly and in a completely different way internally. David explains that when employees can agree with how the culture is perceived publicly, that is a positive for the business. However, many times employees disagree with how the culture is perceived as it is not accurate to how they are treated. David explains that conversation aids in honesty and transparency within a company because it gives an idea of what needs to be improved in a company. Quiet Advisory works with clients in many industries such as manufacturing, law, and restaurant industries. David explains he works with them in two primary ways as either a leadership coach to aid his clients as a whole or as a culture coach for the entire team of a business.
Key Points from the Episode:
- David’s impact in the world
- Restaurant culture
- Lessons from the restaurant business that could aid other industries
- The balance between strategy and culture
- The hypocrisy of culture
- Honesty and transparency
- Who and how clients are worked with at Quiet Advisory
About David Dressler:
David Dressler grew up in Montreal, Canada. From the age of six, he spent his summers in benign indentured servitude, washing dishes, hauling suitcases, and pouring coffee at his family’s hotel in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. At 18, he moved to Switzerland to study hotel and restaurant administration at the Ecole Hôtelière in Lausanne. Forming connections with fellow students from over 40 countries, he happily shared the cost of gas and travel throughout Europe. His catering pay financed “educational tours” of North Africa and Asia. After completing the 4-year program, Dressler moved to California and joined Hyatt Hotels. In his 4 years with Hyatt, he worked every conceivable food and beverage management position before moving to New York to open the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street. He soon became the Four Seasons’ go-to career guy, in key markets such as Dallas, Beverly Hills, Carlsbad and Newport Beach. After falling in love with the woman who would become his wife of 20 years, Dressler decided to plant roots in California. It was there, as Director of Operations at Santa Monica’s famed Shutters on the Beach, that he met and befriended his future business partners. The three restaurant professionals, close in age, tired of the rat race, and ready for an adventure, left Shutters in 2004. After cobbling together $900,000 in friends and family seed money in 2006 they opened their first Tender Greens restaurant in Los Angeles. Over the next decade, the partners built a market-defining, heart-centered, purpose-driven $100 million business. It has often been said about Dressler that he was “the company’s heart and its backbone”. Cofounders Erik Oberholtzer and Matt Lyman focused mainly on the yeoman lift of operations, enabling David to foster the company’s culture. The intent was to build “restaurants that people really love” – carefully creating the kind of place where he would want to work – a place that valued its team members, cultivated excellence and compassion, and favored win-win outcomes and servant leadership. Dressler brought his years of mentoring, self-study, and a suitcase full of hard-learned lessons to build, as Tender Greens’ current VP of Restaurants calls it, “a culture of love and discipline”. Of equal significance was his work on the company’s infrastructure – instilling a sense of thinking big and developing sturdy systems to enable the company’s expansion. Dressler’s business responsibilities encompassed all equity and debt facilities, financial management, compliance, management and employee training programs, human resources, and system development. To grow the organization, Dressler replaced himself with qualified executives, and mentored their development as well-rounded, insightful, and heart-centered leaders. He served as Tender Greens first Chief Financial Officer then as President while chairing both the Advisory Board and Board of Directors. In October 2017, as Tender Greens prepared for expansion beyond the California market, Dressler hired his replacement to run the day-to-day operations. He became the company’s first-ever Chief People Officer – steering the company’s culture, people strategies and the development of its incredible talent. During this time Tender Greens grew to 30 restaurants and roughly $100 million in revenue. Throughout his varied career, Dressler’s greatest joy has always come from being able to mentor others to enhanced leadership effectiveness or expanded personal development. His philosophy “happier at home is happier at work and happier at work is happier at home” became a mantra. Dressler’s heartfelt commitment to the team at all levels married with his gifts as a thoughtful guide and compelling speaker made his presence at company trainings and townhall gatherings appreciated and requested. He developed and personally taught mindfulness classes, emotional intelligence training, intentionality workshops, holistic time management, and full spectrum goal setting. He brought his learnings from years of exploration in shamanic plant medicine, spiritual psychology, and Jewish mysticism into his leadership style. “Go talk to Dave” became code for leveling up, and for professional support as well as personal growth. He and his co-founders created a rich culture that fully lived up to the company’s founding mission; to create “restaurants people really love” and that team members never want to leave. In January 2020, after 15 years of building and learning, Dressler felt ready for a new adventure. The company he helped create was on strong footing with a world class executive team at the helm., He left active life at Tender Greens to found a coaching and advisory practice serving purpose-driven entrepreneurs, founders, and executives and their teams. Taking a cue from the Sufi poet Rumi who wrote “the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear”, he named his company “Quiet Advisory”. His belief is that his clients are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. They simply need to be asked useful questions to discover the answers they’re seeking. In this role, Dressler brings his 30 years of business acumen, emotional self-development and spiritual work and leaves it in his bag! Instead of actively doling out advice, he partners with his clients to see what’s in their wisdom reserves and helps coax it out. Dressler knowingly wears two hats, Coach and Advisor. When situations demand it, he is more than happy to serve clients by sharing his hard-won wisdom and experience. His clients include founders and entrepreneurs, CEOs and people transitioning to their next mountain as he has done. Dressler serves on the board of directors of a non-profit and has held leadership positions in international mentoring organizations. He is married and has two children who he says are the nicest people he has ever met!
05:31 – “It's true that every business goes through a life cycle. In the beginning, it's us against the world.”
07:14 – “The message is no matter what that life cycle, no matter where you are in that continuum, a company needs to look after its own.”
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Links Mentioned in this Episode:
Want to learn more? Check out the Quiet Advisory website at https://www.quietadvisory.com/
Check out David Dressler on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/davidtdressler
Check out David Dressler on Facebook at https://facebook.com/davidtdressler
Check out David Dressler on Instagram at https://instagram.com/davidtdressler
Check out David Dressler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/davidtdressler
Check out David Dressler and Erik Oberholtzer’s book Ten Year Plan at https://www.tenyearplan.co/
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