Friday, April 3, 2009

Dinner with my Mentor at P.F. Chang's

Last week, my business mentor Darryl Glade took us out for dinner at P.F. Chang's restaurant in Metairie, LA.  When we were seated Darryl introduced us to his long time friend who is also the general manager.  We were treated to samples of all of the most popular items on the menu including my favorite appetizer, the lettuce wraps.

Our group had a chance to talk to the general manager openly and ask him questions about his experience in the restaurant business and the future of restaurants.  One piece of advice that he gave us was to keep in touch with people that you know in college or have done business with before, because everyone that you meet could potentially be a business partner.  Also, he told us that the key to being a good manager at a restaurant is to be able to understand that everyone has different personalities.  Some customers want to be entertained and others left alone.  This also applies to the staff.  What motivates one member of the staff may not motivate another.

The general manager sat down at the table with us to discuss the restaurant business and began by comparing a chain restaurant, such as P.F. Chang's, to a smaller family operated restaurant.  In a restaurant like P.F. Chang's there is a higher demand for more staff and food because of the constant flow of customers.  P.F. Chang's particularly is busy because of its location in Lakeside mall on Veterans Highway.  This makes Christmas time one of the busiest times of the year.  Each year the restaurant sets new records for their productivity.  There are 50+ members of the waitstaff and several managers.  The business makes its money from the high volume location and cost of a meal.

During this visit, I was surprised by the organization of the kitchen and the amount of people that prepare food.  There are different stations for each category of food with different people working at each station.  Everyone in the kitchen works together to make the meal for one order.  When we walked through the kitchen, it was apparent that management focuses highly on teamwork.  Also, I was impressed that everything in the kitchen is fresh and delivered daily.  Nothing comes to P.F. Chang's pre-cut or already made.  

Friday, February 20, 2009

Business Communication in New Orleans

Last week, my mentor took a small group of students to the Superdome for a private tour of with the head marketing director. This gave us a chance to talk to the director and ask him questions openly. We were given a brief history of the Superdome and learned how important the Superdome is to the city of New Orleans. The director knew every inch of the building and helped us notice how even the smallest details make a large difference in the efficiency of the building. Such as the ratio of men and women' s bathrooms, size of the escalators and numbers of banquet rooms. In any given week the Superdome can be transformed into a concert arena and the following week there could be truckloads of dirt filling the floors preparing for a monster truck rally.

The various events bring tourism to the city and the events that are broad casted allow advertisement for New Orleans in order to bring more tourism. For example, when the Saints NFL football team has a home game, it is inevitable that the announcers will talk about the soul food, jazz music, nightlife and all the factors that make New Orleans uniquely special. Larger scale events, such as the Superbowl, fill up some hotels months in advance. It is important to spread the word about New Orleans and give tourists the motivation to come visit New Orleans, especially because tourism is the city's largest income.

My mentor and the marketing director stressed the importance that for large events it is imperative to have excellent communication skills. There must be a way to delegate what needs to be done in order for the event to run efficiently. Because there are so many details that factor into the events, everything from pre event preparation to post event clean up is written down or charted on excel. When a schedule is made beforehand, there is less of a chance for error. However, if something does go wrong, being prepared offers more solutions to fix the problem.

I would like to work at a large business such as the Superdome because it is a job that is different every week. The different events and schedules allow for innovative ways to transform the Superdome into a new environment. Every time you visit the Superdome you experience something different. For the people that work at the Superdome, every event is a different job. I would like to work for a place that would allow me to keep me on my feet and make me think outside of the box. For every new problem that arises there is a new solution.

One aspect that is advertised around the country for New Orleans is Mardi Gras. As a Mardi Gras veteran, I realize that each carnival season is different. This is my first Mardi Gras in college and I would like to experience a way for my friends and my family to relieve stress in this time when the economy is in such a mess. This will give us all a chance to take a vacation in our own hometown. I hope that I see many tourists and for everyone to welcome each other and have a good time. Mardi Gras can be safe when you are surrounded by family and people you know and take consideration of your surroundings. I want to avoid the temptations of Mardi Gras and to stay out of trouble. The less people that participate in illegal things, the easier it is for the police to control our safety.

Mardi Gras is important to New Orelans because it is a tradition for the city. Other cities have their version of Mardi Gras, but only New Orelans has the original. For the people who live here, it is a time for family and friends to come together and have fun. Mardi Gras is also a great time for tourists to come and enjoy the great history, restaurants, bars, music and everything that

New Orleans has to offer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Business Communications Networking Event

The Business department at Loyola University hosted a networking event that included the professors of the College of Business, the executive mentors, and all of the students enrolled in the class Business Communications.  This event gave the students an opportunity to learn how to network with business professionals from our community.  Beforehand we practiced introductions, handshakes, how to dress, and proper etiquette.  

During the event, I had the pleasure to meet five business professionals.  The first professional that I met was Mr. Jude Boudreaux, Director of Financial Planning for Bellingrath Wealth Management.  Mr. Boudreaux is an alumni of Loyola University, where he received his undergraduate degree and MBA.  He was impressed with our firm "business" handshakes and began to tell us how first impressions are extremely important.  The second professional I met was Mr. Eric Morgan of Morgan and Company.  Mr. Morgan owns his own marketing firm in New Orleans, LA.  We shared in common that we both grew up in the same neighborhood in New Orleans, however now he lives uptown in New Orleans.  The third professional I met with was Professor Thomas Hickman, the Assistant Professor of Marketing for Loyola University New Orleans.  Professor Hickman went to school in Iowa and just recently moved to New Orleans.  He encouraged us to keep an open mind about choosing our majors, because as Freshman, we have much to learn and life can lead us in many different directions.  The fourth professional I met was Mr. John Zollinger, Regional Manager and Senior Vice-President of Regions bank.  Earlier in the year, he had given us a helpful presentation on finance.  During this meeting he spoke of how important it is to be self-motivated.  The people who are self-motivated are the ones who are most likely to succeed in business.  He also pointed out that management is a psychology because you deal with many different types of people that are motivated in different ways.  As a manager, it is his job to satisfy his employees and accomplish work.  Mr. Zollinger strongly suggested taking a psychology class in order to understand many different people.  The final professional I met with that evening was Mr. Brian Gueniot, in the business of consulting.  Mr. Gueniot has a masters degree in mathematics and was previously a high school teacher in Houma, LA.  Now, Mr. Gueniot lives in Metairie, LA where he owns a consulting agency.  Mr. Gueniot meets with different people in business to teach them how to use their talents to achieve goals and maximize their potential in their industry.

During the networking event, one skill that I did well was having a positive attitude and confidence.  Although I was in the room with many professional men and women, I walked in the room with the mind set that I have the tools I need in order to succeed.  I learned in class and throughout life that if you have a positive attitude it is easier to accomplish more.  I was aware that these professionals want us to succeed and have much experience and valuable information to share.  With every professional I met I became more confident and comfortable.

However, in the future, one thing that I could work on is keeping a conversation going and asking more questions.  Each professional I met was unique, some were more open and willing to talk than others.  For the professionals that were not as open I need to work on keeping the conversation going and ask more questions in order for them to open up.

A business professional that I look up to is Steve Jobs (pictured above).  Steve Jobs is the CEO of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976.  Apple has revolutionized computers, the music industry, and its latest achievement the iPhone, which is revolutionizing cell phones.  I look up to him because he organized a creative team that has many accomplishments that can be backed up by many awards.  Steve Jobs is also the co-founder of Pixar animations, which has also earned 20 Academy Awards and has grossed over $4 billion.  Steve Jobs helped to create two innovative companies that think outside of the box in order to get results. 

I came across a website that is helpful for networking tips and discusses ways to have a positive attitude and helpful tips for networking.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Executive Mentor Program

In my first semester of college, I was a part of the Executive Mentor Program.  The objective of this program is for college students to have a successful, responsible, adult mentor from New Orleans to guide them though the world of business.  The mentors serve as positive, educated role models to the students.  By the end of the program, the students are more confident in decision making, and more aware of the obstacles that will be heading their way.  One job of the mentor is to provide the student with improving their communication and networking skills.  This is especially important for Freshman college students because they start their journey feeling confident and knowing that if they need help their is someone they can call.  One goal of the program is for the mentor and student to develop a relationship that will last beyond the program.  The student should know that during their college years, there is a mentor who is willing to share valuable advice with them.

In my opinion, the most valuable experience was going to dinner with my mentor.  It created a relaxed environment that as a group we could all share our ideas, goals, and values.  We discussed business and listened to important stories that our mentor had been through.  Also, we discussed current business issues such as the financial crisis.  My mentor gave us advice on how to spend money wisely, and safe ways to invest money.

After I spent one semester with my mentor, my outlook on the program changed slightly.  I went into this program very optimistic, but I still had no idea what to expect.  I came out of this semester feeling more confident and optimistic.  My mentor taught me how to be responsible and to not be afraid to ask questions and sometimes fail.  I am aware now that in order to succeed we must make mistakes.  These instances only make us stronger and more educated to make better decisions in the future.

I believe this program is effective and should be implemented in other universities.  For students at other universities seeking an executive mentor, my advice would be to find someone who is successful, willing to donate their time and advice to the student.  The mentor really needs to be committed.  Along with the mentor, the student must be equally committed to the project and take advantage of every opportunity the mentor provides for them.

Although I have gone through one semester of this program, I will continue this program next semester.  I am excited to learn more from my mentor, and learn more about business.  I would like to establish better relationships with my mentor and my classmates.  Next semester, I am eager to take more business classes and take advantage of all open opportunities.

Over the winter break it is important that us business students do not loose touch with current events.  By staying in tune with current events we will have a sharper idea of what is going on in our world.  As students who have so much to learn we need to observe all that we can.  We can check on websites such as and the New York Times online to get a global perspective on business.  To get local information in New Orleans about business we can visit and New Orleans City Business.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wolves on the Prowl Community Service

"The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others."   - Gandhi

Last Saturday I attended
Wolves on the Prowl, which is a community service day sponsored by Loyola University New Orleans.  It gives the students of Loyola a chance to get involved in different activities of community service.  There were activities for retirement homes, park clean up, and building restoration.  The activity that I participated in was helping the kindergartners of the Good Shepherd School have their annual field day.  The Good Shepherd School is a Jesuit, Catholic school that gives children of lower income families the opportunity to go to a catholic school free of tuition.  The parents of the children participate in community service to pay for their children's tuition.

The volunteer work that I helped with at the Good Shepherd School was to supervise the children's field day and organize their games.  I got to know the kids and tried to make them have a good day that they will remember.  I enjoyed getting to know the kids and it made me want to do more community service with children.  A non-profit organization that helps young children in New Orleans I have heard about it Big Brothers Big Sisters.  This organization gives children of low income families a mentor to watch the children and spend time with them.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Finance and Credit

"If God only gave me a clear sign; like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank"   - Woody Allen

On Thursday, I attended a presentation by an employee from Regions bank on finance and credit.  He stressed the importance of managing our money and how to keep a good credit score for the future.  Before the presentation, I never thought much about my credit score or how it even works; however, now I am aware how a credit card works and the importance of paying bills on time.  There is a 30% rule when managing your credit cards, and this means to try not to spend more than 30% of your maximum limit.  This helps to be able to pay off your credit cards easier and to allow for money to be spent in case of an emergency.

After the presentation I met with my executive mentor Darryl.  Darryl gave us real life instances of how important it is to maintain a good credit score.  Although we are just beginning college and it may not be the first thing on our mind, when we graduate it will be helpful to have a good credit score.  This is most likely when we will begin job searching, buying a house, or even a car.  For all of these things it is beneficial to have an excellent credit score in order to be able to get the best prices on loans.  If we can manage our money now, and not spend it on frivolous items, it will lead us on a successful path for the future.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CareerBeam Values and Vision

Ten years from now, I see myself as a confident and successful business leader.  With my education from Loyola I know that I will be able to make critical decisions and be fully prepared for whatever obstacles I may face.  In the future, I want to use my degree in marketing and work for a corporate company that will open many doors.  I want to be involved in my community in New Orleans to help preserve all of its historic aspects and traditions and also make it a safer place to live.
"Knowing your destination is half the journey" - Unknown Author.

A vision statement is useful to help you focus on your goals and prioritize what is important.  I believe that if you have a vision it is easier to reach your goals because it serves as a reminder of the impact you intend to have on the world.  Like the quote, if you have strong will and determination it will help to make you work that much harder in order to achieve your personal goals.  However, the challenges that come with writing a vision statement is uncertainty of your own future such and global changes in the world.  The world is constantly changing and over the years your priorities shift.

On the online CareerBeam test that I took it said that I am a pursuer.  The traits of a pursuer are thinking, learning, reasoning, probing, analyzing, and explaining.  I believe that this is a true representation of a pursuer and of myself.  Because I believe in making a plan and following along its path.  I think before I act and analyzing a situation beforehand only makes you think harder to realize what the outcome will be.  
Everyday we make choices that will impact our future, such as going to class, studying, keeping in touch with friends and family, money management.  All of the choices we make daily are the answers to what our future will become.  You cannot just wish for a better future you must act.  This is why I believe I am a pursuer because I can outline my future and leave room for adjustments along the way.  I can picture my goals and with my determination I believe I will achieve my goals.

Product Mission
To make, distribute & sell the finest quality all natural ice cream & euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.
Economic Mission
To operate the Company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our stakeholders & expanding opportunities for development and career growth for our employees.
Social Mission
To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally & internationally.

In Ben and Jerry's mission statement they want to have a product that will make an impact on the world and make an impact on the customers.  They want to be profitable and keep their employees in mind as they develop and expand opportunities for them.  Environmental health is important to the company and this is important at a time where we are seeing changes in the environment and the impact that global warming is having on Earth.  I believe that working for a company like Ben and Jerry's would be beneficial to one's career because they are an innovative company that is always producing new flavors and products.  Also, they seem to be a company that cares about their employees.