Interview – Voices of Impact with Ryan France



(from the original Voices of Impact podcast)

How to Manage Yourself Out Of A Job

Of all the guests I’ve had the privilege of interviewing for Voices of Impact and of the hundreds of entrepreneurs & business owners I’ve met, not a single one has confessed to growing up with an eye on one day occupying the Oval Office.

That is, until I met and interviewed Harlan Scott.

“We all have our plan,” he told me. “I wanted to be President. I remember when we were getting our first email addresses in the 90’s, mine was ‘Pres-HMS,’ my initials. Kinda ridiculous right?”

Sure, these types of admissions sound silly, in hindsight. But truth was (and still is), Harlan not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. Corp of Cadets at Texas A&M University, military appointment, plans to become a pilot and an eventual Naval Officer.

However, as it’s prone to do sometimes, life intervened during his junior year at Texas A&M. According to Scott, his “financial and emotional apparatus started to fall apart.” As a result, his path shifted beneath him.

Fortunately, though, his eggs were not all lain up in one basket. He’d developed a love for the restaurant business from a young age. So, when life threw Harlan a curve ball, he took it in stride, turned left and hasn’t looked back.

More than that, he paid his dues. Working his way from busboy to Assistant Manager to Director of Operations, Scott helped open eight new restaurants along the way. In a few short months, he will officially add the title of ‘Owner’ to his resume as he and two partners are set to open up a new restaurant, Industry, appropriately named to pay homage to a culture that has fundamentally shaped his outlook on life.

“I think the service industry has defined my personality,” he explained. “My philosophy is that I’m going to treat you like a good person unless you don’t treat me as one. I am going to be honest. I am going to be no-bullshit. I am going to be friendly as hell and unpretentious.”

It’s a philosophy that served Harlan well when two years ago, he ventured out on his own, for the first time, to start Harlan Scott Hospitality. A consulting business meant to help operators who are struggling with “first world problems,” to systematize their day-to-day and improve their quality of life.

And with that, some twenty years later, Scott now recognizes he’s on the path he was destined to walk all along. 

In this episode of Voices of Impact, Harlan and I discuss the importance of building a community, networking by accident and how consistency is an extremely undervalued character trait. We talk about how, counterintuitively, his goal has always been to manage himself out of “a job.” And Harlan gives a colorful rendition of what “owning a restaurant” actually means. You’re not going to want to miss it.