Thunder on the Mountain

Friday, 27 March 2009 - San Diego, USA

Thunder Weather

Presentation Summary

Although the food service industry is solid, nothing is guaranteed as we face tough choices in testing times. In this presentation at Boston Pizza’s annual franchisee conference in San Diego – themed “The best you can be” – Kevin Roberts shares six key ingredients to rise to this challenge.

It’s fantastic to be here with you all. Whether you’re with Boston Pizza or Boston’s Gourmet, you’re all entrepreneurs, creators, inspirers.

Your Conference theme: “The best you can be” resonates deeply. This is an idea I’ve built my life on.

I’m a radical optimist. Every entrepreneur has to be. I believe the role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone.

  • Business connects the flow of goods and services, ideas and experiences.
  • Business creates jobs, choices, opportunities and self-esteem.
  • Business unleashes innovation. The purpose of innovation? To improve lives.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett said the secret of happiness is to find something bigger than yourself, and then devote your life to it.

Business expansion and growth so you can be the biggest are important. But being the best counts most in the long-term. Being the best you can be is how you survive and how you win.

The food service industry is solid, but under constant pressure:

  • Pressure from the sheer number of competitive outlets.
  • Pressure from soaring commodity costs.
  • Pressure from exploding choice. From cheap and basic burgers and sandwiches on one side to niche players offering everything from Gastropub cachet to smaller plate options.
  • Pressure from guests who love innovation. Do they want Wi-Fi or online sales or entertainment or more for the kids?
  • Pressure from relentless discounting, deals and offers.

Boston Pizza and Boston’s Gourmet have played a brilliant game. Continuing to grow in 2008 was a fantastic achievement.

And it all largely comes down to one competitive advantage – your PASSION.

Business in the 20th century was built on the ‘er’ words: bigger, faster, cleaner, cheaper. More mattered most.

Business in the 21st century is being created out of emotion: health, value, happiness, partnership, experience, being socially and culturally responsible, fun.

In this new world being the best has changed. Ask three big questions:

  1. What’s my 5-year dream?
  2. When am I at my best?
  3. What will I never do?

These three questions take you to the heart of Purpose. That’s where the best of the best takes shape.

To be the best now is not about management and doing things right. Boston Pizza has been doing that for decades.

Fact. Boston Pizza has been recognized as one of Canada’s best-managed businesses for 13 consecutive years.

And it’s not about leadership and doing the right thing.

It demands inspiration. Inspiration and imagination are needed now more than ever as we face tough choices in testing times.

As James Dean said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

Dreams are where you start.

Missions and visions describe where to go. A Dream explains why.

P&G’s Dream – “We make every day a little bit better by creating and building brands that people love.”

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Dream – “To be revered as the hothouse for world-changing ideas that create sustainable growth for our clients.”

What is Boston’s Dream?

I know your mission is focused on people and achievement.

Boston’s mission is – “To be a world class franchisor through selecting and training people to profitably manage an outstanding foodservice business.”

But what do you dream this company could do?

The youth of much of your frontline is a constant challenge to consistent execution. My advice? Forget managing them: inspire them.

What ‘impossible’ could they make possible? Perhaps they could redefine quality for their generation, take digital to the next level, commit to personal sustainability.

The bigger your dreams, the higher you’ll fly.

The world is transforming around us. No longer can companies look inwards, pay lip-service to consumers and focus on their own short-term goals.

It’s Power to the People.

This is no longer the Attention Economy. Welcome to the ATTRACTION ECONOMY.

Interrupt Engage
Inform Inspire
One-to-many Many-to-one
Reactive  Interactive
Return on Investment Return on Involvement
Price Priceless
Brands Lovemarks
  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Love and Respect.
  • Brands create Loyalty for a reason. Lovemarks create Loyalty Beyond Reason.
  • Brands are owned by managers, marketers and shareholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands are Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

The Lovemarks challenge is to discover motivating and relevant insights into our customers. This is the only way we can connect more effectively, more deeply and more emotionally.

  • People want value.
    True value rather than false economy. Boston’s is strong on value.
    Example. KFC’s challenge to prove the food they served was cheaper than home cooking.
  • People want simplicity. The question for Boston’s: Is 100 items on your menu too many?
    Example. Haagen Dazs launched Haagen-dazs-five this year. The ice-cream with just five ingredients (vanilla, skim milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks). White, fresh design.
  • People want local. This trend is huge and growing. You connect with local communities. What about local producers?
    Example. Chipotle is purchasing 25% of at least one of its produce items for each of its stores from farms within 200 miles of the store; in Miami Loews Hotels use a van rather than a truck to make deliveries and only work within a sixty mile radius.
  • People want certainty. Boston’s has built its business on this knowledge. But in tough times certainty can be reinvented.
    Example. Hyundai’s new offer. “We will buy back your Hyundai if you lose your job.” Hyundai is up 14% while the U.S. auto industry is down 37%.
  • People want help and hope. They need Lovemarks. Once you’re close to customers, you can inspire them to action.
    At Saatchi & Saatchi we believe in the power of Ideas.



You don’t leave your emotions at home – make sure your people don’t either.

Emotion drives about 80% of how we think; reason, 20%.

Emotion accelerates our decisions; we evaluate everything as good or bad in 0.25 seconds.

Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to action.


The best companies are like the best families: empathetic, friendly, nurturing, demanding, passionate, and working together with a shared love for the purpose of the family.

It’s “feel like a family, perform like a team.” Family means working together by:

  1. Belonging to something special.
  2. Creating a positive, trusting atmosphere.
  3. Emphasizing security and safety.
  4. Inspiring people to be the best they can be.
  5. Making people feel loved.
  6. Expect and give: Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy, and have fun!


Lovemarks create premiums with Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. These three are what make experiences memorable.

To be the best, give your guests more than they ever thought possible.

Franchises are judged by their focus and consistency. You are ready for more. Reach up with creativity and ideas.

Mystery – mixes dreams, icons and stories to create the attractions of the unknown.

Sensuality – excite all five senses. Sight, scent, touch, taste and sound are the portals to the emotions.

Intimacy – Empathy, commitment, passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture that takes Loyalty Beyond Reason.

Intimacy is at the heart of the Boston’s experience. Sure the wider community is important, but what matters most is the pleasures of eating together, the celebration of good company, sharing.


The Love/ Respect Axis sorts winners and losers. It’s tough, accurate and fast.

We’ve located everything on the Axis – from products to politicians.


  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities without differentiation. US Airlines are here. Pizza chains competing on price alone are in this race to the bottom.
  • High Love. Low Respect. Fads and infatuations. The creative zone of “new” and “now”. Some fads break through to Lovemarks: Text messaging, once a kid’s fad, now generates $100 billion a year in revenue for telcos.
  • High Respect. Low Love. Most brands are here fixed on the “er” words: faster, bigger… cheaper.
  • High Love. High Respect. Lovemarks – authentic, true, sustainable and loved.

So what about Boston Pizza? Where do your customers locate these restaurant options?


Sight, Sound and Motion on screen. The digital revolution is transforming marketing, entertainment, communications, technology.

People today live on screens. Screens that are connected.

Boston’s gets it right marrying screens and sports.
EXAMPLE: Part of the two-part Boston’s concept is a sports bar with TV screens showing the latest games.

But for emotional connectivity now, sisomo has to be connected. Friends and fans want to participate and play.


The foodservice industry is getting on board with green.

Time to leap further and go TRUE BLUE.

  • Green is about the planet. Blue is about the people who live on it.
  • Green is about fear. Blue is about radical optimism.
  • Green is about obligations. Blue is about opportunity.
  • Green asks, “What’s to be done?” Blue asks, “What can I do?”

Idea. Boston’s are franchise gurus. How about fresh challenges for your expertise in structure, systems and processes? Help develop entrepreneurial franchise businesses in developing countries. With microfranchising you can be agents for transforming change. E.g. Living Goods set up a network of door-to-door Health Promoters who sell products to treat preventable diseases like malaria and TB.


  1. Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.
  2. Expect the unexpected, and revel in it.
  3. Stand for your local. Business now demands ideas that are real, truthful and authentic.
  4. Be passionately curious. The average four-year-old asks 437 questions a day. How many do you ask – where you really want to know the answer?
  5. Be an Inspirational Player. Inspire people to be the best they can be.

Act now, before it’s too late.

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Spanning creativity, leadership and execution, Kevin Roberts’ presentation to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Wellington Chapter is an inspirational primer in: Wanting to Win, Ways to Win Now and Ways to Keep Winning – the secrets of Peak Performance so that winning becomes a habit.

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