That’s exactly what maitre d’ and sommelier Michael Jordan thought when Disney offered him a chance to run a new restaurant at its California Adventure theme park. Jordan figured he’d already eaten enough space burgers to last a lifetime.
Disney persisted, though, and when Jordan finally agreed to take a look, he saw construction under way for a big open kitchen, a custom-made wine cellar and a view of the Sierras.
But before he signed on, Jordan made Disney agree to his own ground-breaking concepts: A wine list of more than 1,000 vintages, and every employee—from bus persons to chefs—would train to become certified wine stewards.
Jordan designed a six-month course to prep up to 35 employees at a time for the Level 1 test given by the Court of Master Sommeliers. In six years, more than 200 employees have passed the exam and the restaurant has 42 sommeliers on staff … more than any restaurant in the world.
Jordan’s vision turned win/win.
- People want to work for him because they’ll have a future.
- Disney develops a reputation for dining that is anything but “Mickey Mouse.”
Lesson: If you have a grand new idea, don’t turn away from opportunity without first looking. Keep your eyes open.
—Adapted from “Oenophile in a Strange Land,” Mark Borden, Fast Company.
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