Being a courageous problem solver in times of uncertainty

One of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People shares wisdom at Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute event in Baltimore

By Matt Palmer on October 20, 2022

Danny Meyer has a simple philosophy for those working in the business world.

“No matter what your business card says, it should read Chief Problem Solver,” the New York businessman and hospitality executive said. “The best teams enjoy solving problems with each other.” 

Meyer conveyed that message on Oct. 18 to hundreds of enthusiastic audience members at the Columbus Center in Baltimore at an event hosted by the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute titled “Uplifting a Region Through Courageous Leadership — A Conversation with Danny Meyer.” The event format centered around a chat between Meyer and Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute Executive Director Erin Moran.

“We had the opportunity to learn from one of the most influential leaders in the country, Danny Meyer, as he spoke about the courageous decisions he made as a business leader to help uplift New York City,” said Moran. “Such values-driven courageous decisions made by leaders can have incredibly positive, meaningful and lasting impacts on communities.”

Meyer is the founder and executive chairman of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG); co-founder of hamburger chain Shake Shack; and chairman of USHG Acquisition Corporation. Moran served with Meyer for seven years at USHG as its chief culture officer. There she provided oversight for all aspects of the employee experience for the company that created Shake Shack, known globally for its culture, before being selected to head up the Institute anchored at Towson University.

The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute, founded in 2021, is building a community of values-aligned people passionate about investing in developing competent and ethical leaders. The Institute provides thought leadership in the field of leadership development and hosts engaging events and experiences for individuals and organizations to move the region forward.

Two people sit on stage with audience in foreground
Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute Executive Director Erin Moran in conversation with Danny Meyer, founder and executive chairman of Union Square Hospitality Group at the Columbus Center in Baltimore.

Meyer shared his leadership vision, having opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, at the age of 27 in New York during the 1980s. Union Square Hospitality Group has since launched several other beloved restaurants to help uplift neighborhoods in the Big Apple. Meyer has since transitioned to executive chairman and is more engaged with the creative aspects of Union Square Hospitality Group.

Recounting a story Meyer told a journalist, he said, “I’m stepping up because I can do a better job if I’m on top of the tree looking at everything. It’s basically giving me optionality. I’m doing the stuff I love doing the most.”

Reflecting on his career and what he’s learned about leadership, it’s mistakes that have been his biggest teacher.

“Mistakes are like waves,” Meyer told the crowd gathered in Baltimore. “It’s the greatest renewable resource. There’s always another one. You just don’t know how big it’s going to be or what kind it’s going to be. As long as that’s the case, what if you could actually use mistakes to your advantage as opposed to pretending, they never happened?

Helping to grow the next generation of leaders, the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute offers customized leadership development and programming for individuals and organizations. In addition to opportunities like the conversation with Danny Meyer, the Institute offers “one size fits one” solutions for all levels of leaders, from new supervisors to seasoned executives. Regardless of the industry, business model, size or geography, the Institute provides proven skills rooted in values and focused on results.

“The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute was founded to help uplift our region by investing in the development of competent, ethically-driven leaders,” reflected Moran. “We hope this conversation provided practical advice and inspired leaders in our region to make courageous decisions that will benefit our community.”

Join the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute for an upcoming leadership development event or experience.

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