David Schneider

David Schneider

VP of NY Operations for Toptable Group

My teammates and their commitment to excellence inspire me to work hard and put my best foot forward each day. I am in a position in my career where a lot of employees are counting on me. My actions and decision making will inevitably affect our business and team members for better or worse. It is my aim to set my teammates up for success and help to create a work environment that feels purposeful. It is important that the team take pride in what they do and know that our work matters and has a significant impact on so many people. While we might not be saving lives, we are certainly in a position to bring greater meaning to them.

It is important to have specific and targeted goals in mind for your career or business’s development, but, more importantly, you must have a well delineated system in place to bring your goal to fruition. If you design a structured and organized system with realistic measurables, you will create the path to reach your goal. The process will likely be slow and rigorous, so be patient and resilient. However, it is incredibly rewarding to eventually see that your dedication and efforts have paid off. Make a point to reflect on the innumerable wins and gains along the way. They will keep you motivated and compel you to keep forging ahead.
Make sure your team knows that you are invested in them and care about them. This cannot be faked. Get to know your teammates and their stories. Establish trust, show support, and be generous in sharing your passion. Lend a helping hand whenever you can. It is essential that these elements be in place if you want your team’s culture to thrive.
I feel fortunate to have worked as a cook for a couple of years early on in my career. That experience has allowed me to connect with chefs and cooks more deeply. I have the utmost admiration for my back of house counterparts based on knowing the myriad challenges they face each day. Having once been in their shoes helps me relate to them and the struggles they endure. I tend to be a big fan, in general, of restaurant professionals who have worn various hats along the way. Not only do these experiences help shape the person and provide an amazing skill set, but they allow someone to develop a genuine understanding for the various roles that make up the team. The byproduct of that diverse understanding is greater respect for teammates.
I am always looking to hire people who exude a sense of joy and warmth. If I can hire someone possessing those qualities, my goal is to have that individual’s enthusiasm and energy permeate through their work and spread to all our teammates and guests. On that note, I am only interested in working with friendly people who are team players. If someone is unfriendly or arrogant, it isn’t worth having them around even if they have an impressive resume. I am disinterested in individuals with those character traits because I find that both guests and teammates typically do not enjoy their presence. Also, I highly value curious individuals with a keen interest and appetite for learning. Our team places a real emphasis on education, so inquisitive and studious individuals will be a natural fit and help to reinforce our culture.
It is important to consistently be poised, positive, and professional. I feel these characteristics are important to have in place for leadership positions where you are trying to set the right example. If you conduct yourself in this manner, you will have a much better chance of earning your team’s trust. It boils down to having strong character and being reliable.
A few books that I highly recommend for restaurant professionals: ‘Setting the Table’ by Danny Meyer, ‘Think Like A Chef’ by Tom Colicchio, ‘Windows on the World Complete Wine Course’ by Kevin Zraly, ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, and ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday. While there are so many more books to recommend, I believe that these 5 books are a good place to start because they will really help someone develop a better understanding of hospitality, food, wine, discipline, and perseverance.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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