Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer: "Excuses Are the Common Denominators of Failure"

Categories: Ask an Expert

A lot of people, when they see you in action on the show, often ask why do you have to be such a dick?
I'll tell you why. I have five days. (Normally in life I have 30 days.) I have five days, and one of those days is only one night, when I go in for recon, and one of those days are remodel. I have three days to change the way he thinks. If I come here and say don't do this do that, or don't do that, do this, then they'll do the same shit over again. I got to change the way he thinks. Right? So the way I do that is by getting in your face, challenging you. My job is to push until their brain opens a crack and I walk right in. In the Spirits on Bourbon episode, you see me scream at Steve, but you don't see us being productive ten minutes later and having a positive relationship. The fact of the matter is, yes I'm aggressive and I scream, but the reason why I can get away with it is because I have the ability to pull them back in. If I didn't have the ability to pull them back in, I couldn't have done it. That's really powerful.

In the book you consider the term "nice guy" as a code for patsy. Why?
I have a friend, Kevin, who was a carney for ten years. The guy used to travel with murderers. Somebody who was a murderer once said to him a murderer can be a nice guy for 20 minutes. "Nice guy" doesn't mean shit. The biggest asshole in the world can be a nice guy for 20 minutes. The guy who robs from you, stealing tips off credit cards, can be the nicest guy you ever met. Integrity means something. Ambition means something. Honesty means something. Compassion means something.

Is there room for real nice guys in this industry?
There's room for people who are honest, have integrity, and have compassion. That to me is a nice guy. But the term "nice guy" can be a thief; that's my problem.

You prefer personality over experience, but could you teach/mold somebody to have the right personality for the job?
Yes. You can be somebody who's never worked at a bar in their life. With the right personality and three weeks, I'll show you the best damn bar manager you ever saw. Teaching and training are two things. So, we as an industry say that we're going to train you. Bullshit; we don't train anyone. All we do is teach people to work in our business. Training is behavior modification; it takes years. We don't train anybody; we just teach people to work in our business.

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