If you aren’t making time to grow you, your business won’t grow.

Why isn’t your restaurant business growing? Are you, as the owner, getting in the way? John Maxwell, arguably one of the greatest leadership experts in the world, talks about the “Law of the Lid.” He says that any organization can only grow to the level of their leader.

Why is it that most restaurateurs don’t make time to read books, listen to podcasts, or do anything related to their own personal growth? I’ve heard a lot of excuses about how they don’t have time. I don’t buy it. Saying you don’t have time to work ON your business (yourself) is as chaotic as when a server in the weeds says they don’t need help, or they are too busy to stop for five seconds and tell you what they need so that you can help.

John Maxwell is 100 percent right. If your business isn’t growing it’s YOU! If you aren’t making time to grow you, your business won’t grow. In this edition of my Shift Happens Column, I’m going to share with you things I’ve done to grow myself, and ultimately grow the restaurants I’ve managed and my coaching business.

  1. READ

I read between six to 10 books a year to help me be a better restaurateur, boss, coach, leader, businessman, husband, and father. For leadership, read anything by Maxwell. Here are 15 industry books I’ve that I highly recommend:


  • Unreasonable Hospitality, by Will Guidara
  • You Can’t Do it Alone, by Matt Rolfe
  • Delivering the Digital Restaurant, by Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland
  • Bullhearted Brand, by Joseph Szala
  • The Restaurant Marketing Mindset


  • Overcoming Impossible, by Robert Irvine
  • My upcoming book, Shift Happens


  • Setting the Table, by Danny Meyer
  • Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
  • Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter, by Edward Lawler
  • Restaurant Man, by Joe Bastianich
  • The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg
  • Beverage Biz is Show Biz
  • Ten Restaurants that Changed America, by Paul Freedman
  • The Starbucks Experience, by Joseph A Michelli


For those who say their too busy to read can either listen to the audible book while they drive or to one of these nine podcasts I recommend.

  • Restaurant Unstoppable—Eric Cacciatore
  • Best Served Podcast—Jensen Cummings
  • Tuesday’s Thanks—Brian Proctor
  • QSR Uncut—QSR magazine
  • Hospitality Hangout—Michael “Schatzy” Schatzberg
  • FSR’s The Restaurant Innovator
  • Digital Hospitality—Shawn Walchef
  • The Restaurant Show—Jay Ashton
  • The Hospitality Leadership Podcast—Andy Jones


I recommend the following coaches (excluding myself)

  • Bryan Meredith
  • Alison Anne
  • Scot Turner
  • Jim Taylor
  • Matt Rolfe
  • Adam Lamb

If you want to grow your restaurant empire, you have to start by growing you as the leader. Once that is happening, pour into the leaders that run in each operation and then help them do the same for their teams. If you do this, you will experience unbelievable growth and success.

If you would like to speak with me about how I can help you as a restaurant executive coach book a FREE call with me by clicking the link below


Editor’s note: This is the 29th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earnedis here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatnessis here. The 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Openis here. The 23rd, on The Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage—It Has a Leader Shortageis here. The 24th, Are Restaurant Employees Today Entitled? is here. The 25th, Should Hotels Rethink How They View Restaurants?is here. The 26th, Five Priorities Operators Must Follow to Successfully Run a Restaurant, is here. The 27th, Why Your Restaurant Needs an ‘Abundance Mindset’ in 2024, is here. And the 28th, You Can’t Run a Successful Restaurant Without Persistence, is here.

Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees, Leader Insights