Lessons learned along the rocky journey can prove all that more enriching in time.

I turned 60 last week. That would freak a lot of people out. But not me. The reason it doesn’t freak me out is because I have a perspective of gratitude. I see the decades before as time that built on time and life that built on life and a career that built on career. Not every experience, job, or relationship was great. I worked for some jerks. Sometimes I was a jerk. Not every job change was a positive experience. However, every outcome was. Here are a few examples from each decade of my life starting with my 20s.

In my 20s I worked as a server and bartender. I lived in Northern California and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was single and traveled playing two-man beach volleyball, scuba diving, sailing, and living life. Looking back, I am very grateful for those experiences.           

At 30, I started my restaurant management career in Southern California and was lucky to have my first mentor Tom Bryan. Within four years, I was a general manager for Wolfgang Puck. I married and then divorced. At 36, I burned out and moved to Las Vegas and went back to waiting tables. My 30s were better than my 20s. Looking back, I am very grateful for those experiences.

In my 40s, I moved to Nashville where I worked for some great restaurateurs including my second mentor, John DeNapoli. I became one of the best restaurateurs in Nashville and was featured in numerous local and national publications for my success in running restaurants. More importantly, I met my wife, Anita, and we started a life together. My 40s were better than my 30s. Looking back, I am very grateful for those experiences.

In my 50s, after my success as a GM and a brief year and a half in Cincinnati, I moved back to Nashville and became the director of operations for a restaurant group in Nashville. Anita and I became parents to our son. He is our greatest joy. COVID-19 interrupted my career and I became a restaurant coach. We moved to Florida where I am now an author, speaker, and restaurant coach. My 50s have been better than my 40s. I am very grateful for where I am today.

These experiences have allowed me to help many restaurant owners grow their restaurant business and create very successful brands. I am grateful for some of those restaurateurs I work with today. Thanks to people like Nick Fosberg and David and Tashia Bailey, my life is enriched by friendship. Our working together has been great, not only for their success, but to help create a better industry as well. When a client hires me to coach them, they aren’t paying for my hourly time; they are paying for a lifetime of experiences—both my failures and my successes.

So, you see, since every decade has been better than the one before, as I start my 60s, I can’t help but think about Colonel Sanders who didn’t open his first KFC until he was in his 60s; Ray Kroc who didn’t purchase his first hamburger stand until he was 59 and didn’t start franchising McDonalds until he was in his 60s; Judi Dench whose first major role was M in Goldeneye in 1995 at age 61; or Nelson Mandela who became president at age 76 of a country that previously put him in prison.

What will I accomplish this decade of my life? Maybe not the president of a country, an award-winning actress or an iconic founder of a restaurant chain. But here are some ideas I have. Finish writing my first book and write three more, collaborating with some of the best people in our industry; speaking at more conferences; creating the No. 1 restaurant training company in the world; and continuing to help anyone I can through workshops, coaching, masterminds, books, and videos.

If I can accomplish half of this, my 60s will be the best years of my life. Most importantly, I am committed to spending more time with my wife and son and to travel to some amazing countries with them, creating memories and a life worth living.

Editor’s note: This is the 21st 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. And the 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earned, is here.

Expert Takes, Feature