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How to create a fantastic work culture: “Work hard & play hard” with Bryn Butolph and Chaya Weiner

Work hard & play hard: Show them you lead by example, but also know the time to reward them. Throw an employee party, let them have a great night and also consider passing along any freebies you may come across. A wine key is like gold, make it rain with those (from vendors) and your […]


Work hard & play hard: Show them you lead by example, but also know the time to reward them. Throw an employee party, let them have a great night and also consider passing along any freebies you may come across. A wine key is like gold, make it rain with those (from vendors) and your staff will love you!

As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryn Butolph, CEO and co-founder of Eat Clean Meal Prep — San Diego’s largest locally owned meal prep delivery service.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My first job as a dishwasher is to thank for where I am today. I started by learning from the owner of operators, Rachel and Paul of Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. I remember my first week there I was struggling to finish up, Paul grabbed some dishes and helped me finish up while telling me how he got into the industry. His hands on approach was something that took me by surprise, and I have always remembered that. You can get further by helping your staff than you can by demanding your staff. Lead by example.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Most recently I hired my brother as the executive chef for our company, something I now wish I had done a while ago. Knowing that my husband and brother run our company with our long time staff allows me to relax knowing that it’s being looked after daily. There’s a level of comfortability that I have now because of the team we have, I recently realized that I should be more open to utilizing the strengths of my family in business and not just the strength of my employees.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes I am very excited to be growing our newest business that’s a consulting company. The hospitality industry is changing, costs are rising so I know we have been helpful to our current clients in navigating the complex environment. nothing brings more joy to me currently that helping a family run business stay in business and avoid closing.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

Because people take jobs that pay the bills, not jobs that are fulfilling. Sure, everyone has to pay bills, but take those jobs to pay your bills and be on the look out for the best fit for you. Do what makes you happy, while knowing you will have to work some weird jobs until you get to that point. Don’t give up and be unhappy in a job, look around because that negative energy is affecting everyone around you (pets included).

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

In every way, happy employees make a company go round. Unhappy employees drain a business in every aspect. Be sure to address those issues right away.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

Be present: Ask them non work related questions and really listen to their answers. “How are things going for you?” is a great start, but finish strong and show you understand by discussing their answer with them. That will show genuine interest in your people, and make them feel more comfortable.

Surprise them : Sure, you have to surprise them and keep them on their toes, but I mean surprise them in the way of doing something for them you usually don’t. Roll up your sleeves just like Paul, from Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, did and don’t punish them for that extra help you give them.

Listen to them : Ask their opinions and put it to work, nothing makes staff more proud than seeing their feedback end up in a new change within the restaurant.

Loosen up : Sure, you have a schedule to stick to and a checklist to manage your business. But at the end of the day it’s just food and beverage, so don’t have a heart attack when mistakes are made. Let them know you realize they are human and we all mess up, but express clearly that this is an opportunity for growth. Talk with your team and make a plan of how to learn from the experience.

Work hard & play hard : Show them you lead by example, but also know the time to reward them. Throw an employee party, let them have a great night and also consider passing along any freebies you may come across. A wine key is like gold, make it rain with those (from vendors) and your staff will love you!

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

Embrace workers, be nice and say thank you. Seriously, ground floor workers get beat up daily with grumpy customers. Show your appreciation for their hard work, it’ll make their daily life a lot more enjoyable at work.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

My leadership and management style is very hands on. I work non stop and stay in contact with my people. I make it a point to visit them and not work, sit there and enjoy a meal but don’t talk about work. It’s ok not to talk too, just stay off your phone and computer — show them you are human and relax sometimes.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely, my mentor Daren Barone is the hardest working, smartest and most generous person I know. He’s shown me through his leadership that every day we should aim to be more efficient than we were yesterday. Furthermore he’s shown me through example that it’s okay to be wrong, learn from it and move on. Be better tomorrow, and lastly my favorite part about Daren is that he’s a big advocate for mental health. So taking a day off to do what you want, sleeping in occasionally, taking last minute vacations…this is all okay, as long as you work hard and have your systems in place. It’s important to listen to your body and family, taking the time you need when you need it.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe in service above self and love helping others. Being the change is harder than it sounds, but it brings me great pride.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. Every day push yourself to be the best version of you, help those around you and lead by example.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love for society to realize we are more alike than we are different. Right now there’s a sensationalized level of hatred and acceptance of lies as facts, if we cut through the crap we could all get a long a little better. That movement would be huge for the world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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