Danny Meyer on Strategy: ‘I Spend 80 Percent of My Time Thinking About the Culture of Our Company’

The restaurateur reflects upon the strategy behind his company’s many successes

‘You cannot become a champion surfer in a bathtub,’ says Danny Meyer. 

In the June issue of WSJ. Magazine, six successful businesspeople from a range of industries were asked to weigh in on their approach to strategy.

Restaurateur Danny Meyer, who’s having a pretty great year, was a member of the panel, along with Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid, professional sailor Stephanie Roble, Settlers of Catan creator Klaus Teuber, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and professional matchmaker Amy Van Doran.

Meyer, the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, which counts among its businesses the ever-expanding Shake Shack enterprise and restaurants like Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, is well known for his particular talent for hospitality, and told the magazine that he spends about 80 percent of his time considering the culture of his company.

“Culture is our strategy,” Meyer told WSJ. Magazine. “At our restaurants we teach the motto of ‘constant, gentle pressure’ to master a world in which there are unexpected and sometimes very challenging variables tossed your way. It’s a technique for not getting knocked off your surfboard by the waves that are inevitably going to sneak up behind you. You cannot become a champion surfer in a bathtub. Some competitors are enormously motivated by whom they can beat — they want that knockout punch — while others are motivated by hating to lose.”

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Read Meyer’s full response and the panel discussion online at WSJ. Magazine.