bold

Every marketer knows that no good conference could function today without a proper hashtag. This year, at the Women’s Foodservice Forum Annual Leadership Development Conference, #BeBold was plastered on every available surface and screen. It showed up in Twitter and Instagram feeds. It made its way into every presentation, panel discussion and group activity. Moreover, it certainly cemented itself as one of the biggest takeaways from the conference.

Be bold. It sounds simple to say it, but how do you actually live it? This question remained at the forefront as conference attendees learned how to incorporate boldness into both their personal and professional lives, and use it to ultimately help others.

Let’s get personal

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done in the past few years? Change careers? Move to a new city? Dye your hair blue? If you’re Ellen Brennan, try jumping off an 8,346-foot tall cliff. Brennan, a professional wingsuit BASE jumper, shared with the conference attendees how being bold and taking risks earned her the title of the “World’s Fastest Flying Woman.” She recently took her boldness to the next level and partnered with Dunkin Donuts to pull off one of the most unbelievable stunts ever recorded (you’ll have to see it to believe it – watch the video here).

Obviously, jumping off cliffs isn’t an activity intended for everyone. Yet, the underlying message is relevant to every man and woman. Growth isn’t possible until we learn to step outside of our comfort zones and scare ourselves a little bit. On a daily basis, this means exploring new activities and confronting your fears. Michele Poler, for one, is quite familiar with confronting fear, or rather, a hundred fears. She shared her experiences with her self-created “100 Days Without Fear” challenge in a breakout session at the conference.

This challenge forced Poler to actively address fears she had held onto for her entire life, from holding a snake to facing disapproval from her peers. She ended up ticking quite a few major activities off her list, like skydiving, traveling solo and zip lining. More importantly, though, she discovered that fear is not an obstacle, but rather an opportunity. “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” Leaders must embrace the unknown to discover their true potential.

The building blocks of a leader

In addition to mastering bravery in their personal lives, leaders have an obligation to be bold in the workplace. This applies to building relationships as well as innovating new solutions for the company.

Are you innovating new solutions for your company by filling your day with time-consuming meetings and pointless emails? Julie Funt, CEO and founder of WhiteSpace at Work, argues that you are not. “When talented people don’t have time to think, business suffers.” “White space,” according to Funt, is the strategic pause between activities to allow room for creativity and thoughtfulness. It requires a deliberate decluttering of your workday so that you have time to reflect on your company’s goals and address the big picture questions standing in the way of innovation and success.

Making room for “white space” also makes room for connectional intelligence. Connectional intelligence is “the ability to combine knowledge, ambition and human capital, forging connections on a global scale that create unprecedented value and meaning.” “It’s not about connecting more, it’s about connecting smarter,” explained Erica Dhawan, CEO and founder of Cotential. Put simply, connectional intelligence means connecting apples and oranges and getting involved with communities outside of your usual suspects. This could involve shadowing peers in different industries or participating in online forums that you don’t yet have a presence on (for example, check out Quora.

By breaking through your normal routine and strategic processes, you can open the door to creative solutions. There are many ways that a person can apply this to their personal and professional lives. The bigger question is, how can companies apply this to their mission and change the way they interact with the world?

Time to take it to the next level

Restaurants are struggling. Period. Any seasoned restaurant operator knows of the challenges that lie ahead. Recruiting and turnover have become living nightmares. Sales and traffic are consistently plummeting. Retail is floundering, which is dragging the restaurant industry down with it. This means that sticking to the traditional model and doing business the way it has always been done simply won’t cut it anymore.

It’s time for restaurant companies to step up to the plate and start coming up with bolder solutions. Start being bold in hiring, in innovating, in creating a better community. For example, the audience at the 2017 Global Best Practices Conference witnessed how Kristofor Lofgren, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Restaurant Group, has embraced boldness by becoming the first sustainable seafood restaurant. His solution of serving high quality, sustainably sourced food not only meets the demands of his customers but also leaves a lasting impact on the environment.

Yum! Brands has also found a bold solution by expanding family and medical leave benefits for all its support center employees. By doing so, the company demonstrates a genuine interest in their employees’ well-being, setting it apart in both the restaurant industry and the country as a whole. The company has now distinguished itself as an employer of choice as well as an innovative thought leader.

It’s high time for the rest of the restaurant industry to follow suit. As TDn2K™ Chairman and Co-Founder Wally Doolin has stated, “Big brands aren’t dead. Mediocre performance is.” It’s time to end the mediocrity and mindless operations. Restaurants must infuse their brands with energy from top to bottom, from corporate employees to hourly employees, and from first-time visitors to loyal fans. Identify a purpose, and serve it fully. #BeBold

Need help coming up with bold ideas? Check out all of the resources WFF has to offer here.