Dan Sachs is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, a Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, and the President of Meerkat Restaurant Advisory. Beyond all of that, Sachs was the owner of the restaurant group BIN 36. In turn, it is very fitting that the Chicago-based Harvard alumnus penned The Million Dollar Greeting: Today’s Best Practices For Profit, Customer Retention, & A Happy Workplace.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Dan Sachs — who has worked a variety of established restaurateurs, including Danny Meyer, Drew Nieporent and Paul Bartolotta — about The Million Dollar Greeting and more. Additional info on Sachs can be found on his website.
How long did you spend writing The Million Dollar Greeting?
Dan Sachs: About 6 months writing and another 6 months editing, rewriting and more rewriting…
Did you have the title all along? Or did that come to you while writing the book?
What was the most challenging part of writing the book?
Dan Sachs: Finishing! There’s a big difference between having a good idea and dedicating the time and focus on completing a book. Like most things in life, it’s easy to start but harder to finish.
Is there a takeaway you hope for readers to come away with after reading The Million Dollar Greeting?
Dan Sachs: Try adding the “tools” of hospitality to your leadership style. It creates a happier and more productive workplace. There are 5 key values all leaders share: Authenticity, Accountability, Community, Culture, and Vision. The Million Dollar Greeting provides a roadmap with industry leaders as guides to help show you the way.
Do you have plans to write another book?
Dan Sachs: In the works right now! I’ve partnered with a colleague at DePaul [University] where I teach to write about the role of empathy at work. There’s a familiar theme, I know, but it’s all about getting the most out of being on the job.
What does the rest of 2019 look like for you work-wise? I’d imagine that Meerkat Restaurant Advisory is a 24/7 sort of company…
Dan Sachs: Yes, I am keeping busy. I do provide a lot of hands-on consulting and training services as well as teach at DePaul and serve as the University’s Entrepreneur In Residence. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to do my part in making the world — at least the work world — a little bit better. We invest so much energy in our work, so why not try to make it as rewarding as possible?
Given the harsh winters, what is it that keeps you based in Chicago?
Dan Sachs: (laughs) That’s a question my wife and I ask every December. The truth is we love the diversity and energy of the city. I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I am ALWAYS happy to be back in Chicago.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood for dining within Chicago?
Dan Sachs: Definitely not. One of Chicago’s greatest strengths is the range of food and style that is distinctive of each neighborhood, from north to south.
What do you feel are some of the more underrated spots to dine at within Chicago?
Dan Sachs: I think people tend to miss some of the great ethnic restaurants in the city — family-run spots that don’t get the fanfare of big name, chef-driven concepts but deliver on all fronts. Recently, I had a great meals at Zizi’s Cafe in Lakeview, Chiya Chai Cafe in Logan Square, and XOchimilco Mexican in Ravenswood.
What was the last concert you attended in Chicago?
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.
Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Downtown Magazine, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.
Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.