Sow What Podcast Episode 22: Franchise Coffee Chat event 07.20.20

I was invited to join a fireside chat last week, hosted by my dear friend, HR executive, and service provider William Chiem of Trinet.

Also joining me were co-hosts Keith Koo of Silicon Valley Insider and Lauren Dodson of Trinet. Awesome people, all around.

The audio version can be found on my podcast show, here.

WARNING: Bill was hosting from a cabin with choppy wifi, so the reception is a little off during the introduction; but hang in there and it’ll clear up.

Topics spanned my decade-plus long career in restaurant ownership, franchising, investing, and advising. I was encouraged to share:

  1. The thousands of restaurants I’ve sold around the world;
  2. A case study of how my team and I grew a small mom and pop chain to eventually go public; and
  3. Other milestones that could serve as a template for young companies.

It was so much fun, and the post-event feedback suggested that many aspiring restaurateurs, franchisees, and franchisors got a lot out of it. That made the decision to leave my introverted shell to speak, worthwhile lol!

Enjoy! And feedback is always welcome.

Sow What Podcast Episode 21: Notre Dame Startup Accelerator presentation

Dean Soto (of Pro Sulum) and I were invited to speak to founders of a Catholic startup accelerator, hosted by the University of Notre Dame, called the OSV Innovation Challenge.

The topic we taught was about using VSAs (virtual systems architects) to automate all non-critical business tasks – to recover time meant for massive growth, innovation, enjoying the business, and pursuing quality of life.

The presentation doesn’t start until around 3:20, for reference!

The podcast, audio-version of the episode can be found here.

It was such an honor to meet brilliant, God-focused entrepreneurs; and share our experiences and insights on how to scale – in hopes that they make huge dents in the universe.

I also hope to do more of these events, as I felt so full of joy and purpose in doing so. If if I can any way add value to your platform (be it podcast, newsletter, or speaking event), or someone you know, let me know about it!

Sow What Podcast Episode 19: Case study w/ George Chen of UBest Packaging (OSV exclusive)

Dean Soto and I were invited to speak about small business systems, automation, and growth with finalists of the OSV Innovation Challenge – and it was so much fun being around such bright entrepreneurs and change-makers!

The audio-only version can be found on my podcast, here.

One of the resources we wanted to share with the audience was a case study with one of our best clients – George Chen, owner of UBest Packaging and G Supply Co.

Hope you enjoy, and more importantly – we hope it changes how you run your teams and/or organizations with more purpose and effectiveness!

Sow What Podcast Episode 18: Chat with entrepreneur/investor Andrew Chen

There was no planning for this episode. I had just finished a video case study with one of my clients, and had so much fun with it I had to release more of the same energy.

So I texted one of the few friends I knew who’d still be up at 12a in the morning – my friend and business partner Andrew Chen. He responded to my spontaneity with spontaneity, and now we have an awkward interview that does no justice to The Random Show with Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose #insidejoke lol!

Some parts of the interview are a little whacky because Andrew’s in Taiwan with patchy Internet, but if you can bear with through there are some funny moments and moments of great wisdom on a wide range of topics, including:

Quarantine in Taiwan; education being in trouble and a crutch on innovation and entrepreneurship; a $100 million business that got scrapped from COVID; Andrew’s foray into moving to New York and learning fencing, stand-up comedy, creative writing, and improv; a new show idea we’re tinkering with; Elon Musk’s revenge on the Russians; and most importantly, my delusion of thinking I’m the Asian Larry King.

There were two quotes that were mentioned on the show – one of which I messed up horribly, lol! Here they are:

“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

“He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.” – Seneca

The usual show – which is audio-only – can be found here. I hope you’ll subscribe and enjoy!

Ideas for restaurant chain owners to respond & stay ahead

I read this page in the June 2020 issue of QSR Magazine, and thought sharing it – along with some ideas I had below – would be useful to my restaurant owner friends.

If you agree, don’t keep this a secret. Forward this to any operators who are struggling with sales, or what to do next. 

And remember that knowledge is only POTENTIAL POWER. I’m going to try and make these ideas small and actionable immediately, in hopes that they improve your business by at least 1%.


In the top statistic, you benefit from Chipotle’s big budget spending money on research – so that you don’t have to. That’s a blessing and a freebie! 

In addition, because most of you are smaller in size, you get to respond quicker and win more customers than Chipotle might be able to. 

Regardless of your political beliefs – people are still scared of returning to restaurants and gyms, the fear of a second wave is real, people’s habits have altered, and there will be a stronger focus on eating better. And what’s always been true is that people are more starved for time than ever, so they also want eating to happen NOW. 

When there is an overwhelm of information on the Internet – it’s more valuable that you curate a delicious, affordable menu – and make it convenient, make the customer feel smart, and take care of their families. 

Take inventory of your offering, right now. Does it check all the boxes in the above paragraph?

If people are limiting their trips to the grocery store, like the first statistic states…

Offer food items that you purchase from your distributors, and offer them for sale. One of the brands I’m a shareholder in – Paderia Bakehouse – did a brilliant thing. 

When COVID-19 hit, people were sheltering in place and made food at home more. Many of them decided to bake more for sustenance, returning to their passions, and/or taking up new hobbies – and owners Davion and Nathan kept their core business running, but added another opportunity for customers. 

They offered restaurant-grade bags of flour, yeast, and other baking ingredients for direct-to-consumer sale. They used their existing social media platform and announced it, and they sold out almost every time they did. While supermarkets were running out of supplies during the panic of the first few weeks of lockdown, food distribution centers were still delivering them to restaurants – and Davion and Nathan heeded the call. 

They didn’t have to move mountains to do anything extra. They didn’t dilute the quality of their main business – only created more cash flow and met more consumer demand. They didn’t spend any labor hours processing orders. Their customers now see them as a convenient choice for all things baking. And their sales increased during COVID-19.

Not only did they find another way to serve their customers, they found a way to serve their community as well. They used their proceeds to bake and committed to deliver over 10,000 cookies to hospitals throughout Southern California.

Although they are a small chain, that’s temporary (they’re opening two more stores in the next 12 months), and they are a leader. 

Take inventory of the inventory you have in your BOH, and what your current suppliers could offer. Consider emailing or texting your customers (and if you aren’t communicating with your customers regularly, that’s another opportunity right there) – or when they’re in-store, in-person – that you’re thinking of offering wholesale/bulk groceries, in an effort to serve your customers better, and ask if they’d like to buy any items directly here. 

Partner up with a fitness expert and offer tips to exercise while in a hurry, and in the convenience of their own homes. Customers will appreciate that you go above and beyond in not just taking care of their food needs, but show that you care about their health. 

Create workout videos or diagrams; or an easier and more effective approach – recruit a fitness trainer to give free virtual or in-person sessions. 

Most restaurants want to be a lifestyle brand, but they only say it in word. This is an opportunity to walk the talk, and differentiate from the short-sighted, reactive competition as well.

Ask your food supplier for a list of healthy snacks, or look outside. If people are struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle and are defaulting to the candy bar or cup of ramen noodles nearby…intercept them while they’re ordering your food by offering healthier snacks that will make them feel good, eliminate their guilt, and again – be focused on serving customers’ needs. 

Again – like the first point, it doesn’t take any extra labor hours, it helps you differentiate, and it’s a huge display of going the extra mile and caring about your customers. 

Mobile marketing. Sorry that I cut off the bottom part of the page, but it’s still important lol! 

People are always on their phones, so why aren’t you there (only talking to the non-mobile owners)? 

Maybe you’ve never had the time to compile all of your customers’ contact information in an actionable format.

Maybe you don’t know how to best organize it. 

Maybe you think it’s too expensive to manage communications by text or an app. 

Or maybe you’re worried about being intrusive.

Regardless – those above beliefs are unhelpful and wrong, and I’d love to share a few ideas on how to best have a system of communicating with the people who give you purpose, that pay your bills, that help you grow, and that depend on you to serve them (your customers). 

Shoot me an email and we’ll talk about them. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many ideas right here and debilitate your efforts.

That’s it for now. Have an incredible week ahead, my friends. Do your best work, take massive action, and be the leaders that help with the recovery.

Affirmations – 08.21.19

I’d like to thank Tom Ferry for returning me to affirmations. This, in addition to meditation, was one of the morning routines I was religious about for a year, but let go over time. I stopped, because I thought that reading the Bible was enough – but I forget that God speaks to me through other avenues as well, and I can manifest God through affirmations, too.

I also forgot how good it felt to do this exercise. Back to priming myself and insuring for a great day!

I actively break bad habits, and replace them with new, God-driven ones. I understand that success by heavenly, eternal standards (I’m not interested in short-term, flavor-of-the-day, worldly success) isn’t caused by big moments, but the result of letting God lead and from the things I do, say, and program into my mind and heart consistently every day.

I filter all phone calls, meetings, and projects first with God before deciding to jump in. I avoid all endeavors where God isn’t present, and am okay with waiting or going a different direction – and aspire Moses’ commitment to only go where He does. I don’t justify, I don’t rationalize, I don’t try to convince myself falsely; I just listen, observe, and obey.

Devotional – 08.21.19 “Not going in without my Partner God’s vote”

“How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.””

Exodus 33:16-17 NIV

Let this verse guide me into all the emails, calls, meetings, journal entries, and initiatives that I partake today. I want to ask, before I dive in: “Are you going into this with me?”

If Your Word, inspiration, and circumstances dictate, I will obey and do it with joy, love, servitude, and grace. And if it’s not, I need that strength to refrain, despite the temptation – be it a desire to please people, avoid deep/important work, or just reactivity.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:6-9 NIV

How would I define the “eternal ROI” of my business

According to, a traditional ROI (Return on Investment) is “a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.” It’s basically measuring the amount of return on a particular investment relative to the investment’s cost.

“Eternal ROI”, on the other hand, is counterculture (just like Jesus’ style). 100% of the investment decisions I make for His Kingdom has an infinite and positive return. So I can take comfort in that there is no wrong investment of resources if I am doing it in His name. No sunk costs, no regrets, no ponzi schemes, no greed, and no taxes nor fees that deteriorate the gains.

Whatever I am evaluating, it’s a no-brainer, guaranteed, secured, immediate, compounding, and paying dividends well past our lifetime.

Another advantage is that I just need to make the investment – take the action – and leave the outcome to God as the fund manager, as the steward, as the CEO/COO. We can trust Him; our eternity is secured; He knows the future; and He is not susceptible to greed and wrong decisions.

And some of the outcome may not be seen now, for a long time, on this side of Heaven, in this realm (remember, there are spiritual strongholds that we need to invest resources in breaking down), or even in ways we expect – but it makes massive impact regardless.

Some forms of ROI include abundance in blessing – material and non-material; people coming to know Christ; supernatural transformations in industries that I operate in and those adjacent to my line of work; and the senses of joy, peace, and purpose in all that I do.

So what are a few of these investments I can make in my company?

• Tithing

• Automating as many activities as I can so that I can tend to family as my first ministry; avoid worry; be present for clients; and create white space to think clearly, do deeper work, create better products and services, serve people more, and serve more people.

• Helping clients automate as many activities as possible for their benefit, too.

• Coaching and encouraging business owners and salespeople to sell more effectively so that they can serve and love more people.

Affirmations 08.18.19

I raise my expectations, because miracles are what God specializes in. Forget 2X or even 10X – I want infinite ROI.

I surrender all of my activities today to You – because worrying, the burden of providing, and producing outcomes are not my responsibilities in this partnership.

I simply need to remember Whose business this truly is; consult with You and have joy in everything I do – big or small, complicated or easy, fun or not; meet and serve everyone with love, grace, and servitude.

Opportunities, inspirations, and blessing will be the automatic byproducts.

Do you how the story ends?

You HAVE to listen to Pastor Steve Furtick’s message here.

Listening to this today was totally a God thing. With the exception of Daily Hope years ago, I never listen to Christian podcasts; nor am I subscribed to any. All of my podcasts are either comedy or business-related. But something came over me to look for Pastor Steven.

It’s crazy, because I didn’t even remember his name at that time and had to marinate on it for a bit before I found it. And I looked for “Elevation Church” and backed into it.

I would’ve normally given up at a little bit of resistance; and I was close to defaulting to my usual business episodes or music. But again – something came over me. And I’m glad I submitted. This morning was so enlightened and impactful.

Pastor Steve gave me a message that I believe You really wanted me to hear. Here are my takeaways.

It’s comforting that I know God wins at the end. I don’t have to know the details of how things go down – because that’s not for me to know; but I am encouraged to remember Who is writing my story, I know I am not alone, I have increased patience, and I can rejoice – even in the valleys, pits, outnumbered enemies, and other undesirable moments.

I can also be present, and not be so distracted – worrying about the future. God’s got me; so now I can just enjoy the purpose and ministry He’s placed in my path, and laugh at the obstacles that show up.

Sometimes, the devil puts decoys to thwart me from fighting the real enemy, and risks us fighting with someone whom we should be fighting for. Pastor Steve talked about how things could’ve ended differently, had a teenage David refused to go drop-off food for his brothers, not obeyed, and showed up for the mundane; had David continued to argue against his brother and not focus on the real issue at hand; had David relied on King Saul’s advice to wear his armor instead of using the protection God had provided for him; had David focused on what he didn’t have (formal training, army weapons, armor, etc.), versus what he did have (the power of God, a sling – which he knew how wield and kill lions, bears, and other powers that threatened his sheep).

Am I stuck in my own disfunction? When David came to visit his brothers, his brothers have been fighting and been taunted by Goliath for forty days. They were tired, discouraged, and paralyzed.

I need to be mindful of this, as I also feel debilitated by worries about finances, my comfort zone, video games and other toxic behaviors, and a groove that I’m not happy with. Time to break out. I think today’s little scuffle with Christine did the trick. Well, it better…

There are many other lessons taught in here, and I plan to listen to it again. Pastor Steve made the lesson so funny, fun, relevant, and impactful.