Carl Behler

The restaurant development community is a small but tight-knit group of chain executives, suppliers, vendors, and design and construction professionals. What makes this community so dynamic is the simple fact that each organization comes to market with a unique corporate culture that shapes their view of the industry, including where they look for inspiration, how they collaborate internally and externally, and their approach to innovation.

From the perspective of the Chipotle culture, which I have the pleasure of living in, everything our team does evolves from one simple idea: we all are top performers who create empowered teams that do extraordinary things. Monty Moran, our co-chief executive officer, recently defined empowerment as "feeling confident in your ability and encouraged by your circumstances such that you feel motivated and at liberty to fully devote your talents to a purpose."

This empowerment culture promotes new thinking, collaboration with others in our restaurant community, and the desire to find new opportunities and partners to be the best of the best.

One common trait we all share, no matter what side of the transaction equation we sit on, is everyone continues to search for solutions to meet the restaurant development community's big-picture challenges. Individually, we all have specific challenges that relate to our companies and, as such, we look to make connections to help broaden our own professional networks.

One way that I embrace the opportunities our company's empowerment culture provides is by taking an active role within the restaurant development community. Given the pace and demands of our business, it's easy to find reasons to decline to participate in an association or serve as part of an advisory board, like the one at RestaurantPoint, but I find that the returns are greater than the investment. You have most likely witnessed the scene at many restaurant industry conferences and conventions: a group of folks gathered in conversation on a common topic affecting the industry sharing ideas and experiences. From there, enthusiasm builds through the discussion of ideas which inspires change before collaboration eventually kicks in to help produce a solution-centered innovation. I find that cultivating connections at such events leads to lasting relationships that aid in innovative thinking.

In general, our company sees value in the community coming together in venues such as RestaurantPoint. It provides a great opportunity to stir our passions, share best practices and band together to help move the industry forward.