Video Transcript

00:12 Scott Gerber: You put a lot of not just effort into training, but also into finding the right folks. You call them 51 percenters. So, what is a 51 percenter and what do they bring to the experience?

00:22 Danny Meyer: Well a 51 percenter is somebody whose greatest pleasure in life is doing a job really well in a way that makes you feel good and that last part is not common to a lot of people.

00:38 Gerber: Give me an example of that. How does somebody go above and beyond to make someone feel good?

00:42 Meyer: Well, you have somebody who's got a good work ethic, who first and foremost cares about doing a job well. And somebody who goes further and does something over and beyond what's expected is somebody who is probably thoughtful. They are able to combine thinking and feeling, that's what the word thoughtful is, so that they empathize with who you are. They see you, they understand that each experience, if it's going to be hospitable, has to be one size fits one as opposed to one size fits all. Service and performance, a recipe that we cook in one of our restaurants, should be one size fits all. You should do a Shack Burger the exact same way for everybody unless they ask for it specifically to be done differently. But people who have a high HQ are people who tend to be kind, optimistic, thoughtful, curious, have a heart, they've big work ethic, they're highly empathetic, they have integrity, and they've got self awareness. And when you combine those six emotional skills together, you've got somebody who stands a really, really good chance of being the kind of person we want to hire.

01:58 Gerber: How do you identify a 51 per centers? It sounds like such a unique series of skill sets to find the kind of person you're talking about that also has to learn about the company culture beyond just being the right find. So take us through the kinds of questions in an interview, somebody who wants to find a 51 percenter, how are you identifying that individual?

02:14 Meyer: What you don't do is to say to somebody, "Are you friendly?" or "Are you empathetic?" or "Do you have integrity?" because anyone in the world in an interview should be giving it their best and they're gonna say, "Of course, I am. I'm great at all those things." But I think what I'm telling you right now goes for any kind of an interview. I think that when you're asked yes-no answers in an interview, you're not gonna learn a thing, no matter who you are. So the best thing that we've learned is to say, "Tell me about a time that you used your natural empathy on the job." And six out of 10 people look at you like you're crazy, like why would you ask me about my empathy, and four out of 10 people will give you really, really thoughtful answers and to the degree that those thoughtful answers make me feel better, chances are, that person's gonna make my customers feel better as well, and is gonna make our staff members feel better as well.

03:15 Meyer: The other thing that's on our mind all the time is that hospitality is a team sport and I'm not just talking about the restaurant business. I think that when you tell a kid it's a good idea to play team sports in grade school, and in high school, and in college, those are really good skills for getting into the business world as well. And one of the things we're thinking about a lot when we're interviewing people is how are they gonna play in the sandbox with the rest of our team members? Are they gonna be the kind of person that is not only great with our guests, but are they gonna help bring out the best in the rest of our team?

03:54 Meyer: And you hear about this in baseball all the time, you'll have these free agents who command huge dollars and you look at their statistics and their statistics look really good, but then you also look at their left hand and there's no World Series ring on the hand. And they are not necessarily the best in the dug-out that bring out the best in the rest of the team. And meanwhile there are other players, and I'm a pretty good student of baseball, whose batting average, whose fielding average, all these statistics may not be as high as everybody else's, but they've got World Series rings all over their fingers and wherever they get traded they seem to be playing on a winning team. They're impacting that as well.