Be the Show Not The Commercial: Shawn Walchef’s Recipe for Restaurant Success | Restaurants & Franchises Series

How can a restaurant owner leverage digital storytelling to transform a struggling business into a thriving media empire and successful restaurant chain?

In this episode, Shawn Walchef, founder of Cali BBQ Media and CEO of Cali BBQ, shares his inspiring journey from struggling restaurant owner to successful media entrepreneur. Shawn discusses how he built a thriving barbecue restaurant and media company by embracing digital tools and storytelling, driven by his desire to overcome initial business challenges and share valuable insights with other hospitality professionals.

Shawn highlights the importance of consistent content creation and building a personal brand to attract customers and talent. He shares insights on navigating the challenges of the restaurant industry, including overcoming lawsuits and adapting to changing market conditions like the rise and fall of ghost kitchens.

As the leader of a growing media company and restaurant business, Shawn aims to create opportunities for hospitality professionals to learn and grow through digital storytelling while providing high-quality food and experiences to his customers. He discusses the challenges of balancing traditional restaurant operations with innovative media strategies and shares his vision for building deeper global communities in the hospitality industry.

Resources and mentors that inspired Shawn:

💡David Meltzer, his media mentor since 2020

💡Gary Vaynerchuk, through his content and books

💡Tim Ferriss, through his podcast and books

💡His grandfather, who taught him to “stay curious, get involved, ask for help”


Tune in for valuable insights on transforming a restaurant business through digital media, overcoming industry challenges, and creating a positive impact in the hospitality community through storytelling and education.




Welcome to another edition of inspired stories where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing.

Anthony Codispoti (08:06.993)
Welcome to another edition of the Inspired Stories podcast, where leaders share their experiences so we can learn from their successes and be inspired by how they’ve overcome adversity. My name is Anthony Cotaspodi and today’s guest is Sean Walchuk, a man who wears many hats. He is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, where he helps hospitality brands and leaders tell better stories online. He’s also the CEO of Cali BBQ, a place where friends gather to eat slow cooked California barbecue.

drink specialty spirits and cheer on their favorite sports teams. They’ve won UT San Diego’s best brunch and best sports bar awards. They were named the Small Business of the Year in 2016. Sean also hosts his own podcast called Restaurant Influencers, where he highlights top leaders in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He’s a prolific content creator for entrepreneur media and toast, and we’ll hear more about his LinkedIn mastermind for hospitality professionals. It’s completely free.

and we’ll hear how you can take part in that. But before we get into all the good stuff, today’s episode is brought to you by my company, Adback Benefits Agency, where we offer very specific and unique employee benefits that are both great for your team and fiscally optimized for your bottom line. One recent client was able to add over $900 per employee per year in extra cash flow by implementing one of our proprietary programs. Results vary for each company and some organizations may not be eligible.

To find out if your company qualifies, contact us today at addbackbenefitsagency .com. Now, back to our guest today, the founder and CEO of Cali BBQ, Sean, I appreciate you making the time to share your story today.

Shawn Walchef (09:46.534)
Thank you for having me on. I’m excited to share all the, all the mistakes that we made. So hopefully the listeners don’t have to make those same mistakes.

Anthony Codispoti (09:53.52)
I love that, appreciate that. So you’re involved in several things, Sean. Let’s maybe start with the media company, Calibarbecue Media. Tell me how you first came to start this company and then explain what it is that you do for your customers.

Shawn Walchef (10:08.838)
Sure. So those that are listening, those that are watching, you might be familiar with a field of dreams. I’m an American classic baseball movie with Kevin Costner, that movie. There is a line. If you build it, they will come. And somehow, some way, I don’t know how, but it got into the folklore of business professionals, entrepreneurs that if you build it, they will come. Now there’s also a mantra location, location, location.

real estate mantra, restaurant mantra, open up in a great location and that’ll solve all your problems. Well, I went against the location, location, location mantra and I went, if you build it, they will come. And I opened in 2008, bad time, difficult business, difficult market and difficult location. Yeah. And because I, because we went there, we failed. I mean, to be honest with you, we failed.

Anthony Codispoti (10:56.046)
Great recession going on.

Shawn Walchef (11:04.358)
Running our restaurant. I couldn’t get people to come into the restaurant. We were trying to figure out what was our menu. What were we serving? And once we realized that no one was coming to tell our story, I thought if we made great barbecue, if we provided great hospitality that the local media radio stations, newspapers, magazines, I thought that they would start to care about what we were doing. They would send people down. Reporters would come interview me. We’d have a full restaurant. We’d be able to open up rest other restaurants.

The truth of the matter is no one’s coming. And I think that is the most powerful truth that we found. And that’s why we built a media company is because no one’s coming. And not only is no one coming, but we also live in the greatest technological revolution that’s ever happened to business owners in the fact that we opened in 2008 and in 2007, the iPhone came out. The first iPhone came out in 2007. Everything that’s happened since then.

web 2 .0, all of these apps. The reason why you and I are having this conversation that it’s going to get distributed on YouTube, on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok threads, all of these different places, all because of technology. We don’t have to go and build these platforms. They’re available to business owners. And once I realized they were available to me, we started telling our story.

Anthony Codispoti (12:25.871)
So you started the restaurant first. You thought, I don’t need a great location. I’m just going to build it. They’re going to come to me. We’re going to make great food. People will just start talking about it naturally on their own. And you learned the hard way. That wasn’t true. And so did you actually have to shut down that first restaurant? Or were you able to keep going and then sort of learn and apply the media lessons that you were picking up?

Shawn Walchef (12:49.735)
Thankfully, we never shut down the restaurant. We’ve been open for 16 years. We’ve closed two, three, we’re closing our third Ghost Kitchen location. So we tried during the pandemic to open up micro mini restaurants, delivery and takeout only 200 square foot locations. Those failed. And what we learned through those failures is what we hope those lessons to apply to our third location, which will be at the San Diego Navy base, which will be opening in the middle of July, 2024.

So what we learned operating a low labor model, a commissary kitchen, slow smoking meats, and then delivering them, we are going to apply. But to your question in the beginning, we stayed open, thankfully scratching, clawing our way to figure out how to pay payroll, how to pay for food to come into the restaurant, how to pay for insurance, how to pay for lawsuits when we got sued. and then understand that Facebook was available.

You know, eventually Instagram was available. Yelp was available. Google was available websites, email marketing, branding, figuring out that if we could learn how to use these tools, we could figure out how to actually have a successful business where people came from all over San Diego to come and see us. Do you hear that?

Anthony Codispoti (14:04.366)
Are you getting some feedback?

Shawn Walchef (14:05.958)

Anthony Codispoti (14:09.229)
What does it sound like?

Shawn Walchef (14:11.622)
like feedback exactly that echo cancellation can’t be changed.

Shawn Walchef (14:23.846)
We’ll just go with it. I’m good. I’m a professional.

Anthony Codispoti (14:25.07)
Okay, hopefully it won’t show up or it can be edited out. Okay, so we’ll cut that part out. So Sean, I’m curious, how was it that you ended up becoming familiar with these digital tools that were available? You weren’t using them initially when you first opened. The first iPhone had only come out a year before. How was it that you started to cut your teeth on all of this?

Shawn Walchef (14:52.806)
I think just out of sheer necessity, I made fun of my business partner and best friend when we opened up the restaurant in 2008 because he was on Facebook. I thought he was just using Facebook as a way to find dates or to look at women. And it turns out Facebook was a place that you could claim a business page and not only claim a business page, but you can talk about your menu. You could talk about the events that you have, the local charity things that you’re doing to support little league teams and

and football teams. And once we started owning Facebook, people started to take notice. And I think so much of our struggle was understanding that I needed to go in and learn how to use the tool that was available. So if it was Yelp, a lot of restaurant owners still don’t like Yelp.

Anthony Codispoti (15:40.748)
Why is that? Why don’t you tell our audience?

Shawn Walchef (15:43.974)
Because no one likes to be told their food sucks. This is our baby. Like this is the thing that you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into and somebody comes in and they don’t like it and they complain and they leave a one star review, which affects your overall rating, which affects your ability to drive in revenue. It hurts. It hurts. And instead of realizing that it hurts, you could actually do something about it and respond. And we started prioritizing how fast can we respond? We will respond to every single

Yelp review, every single Google reveal, every single Facebook post. And by doing that, we started owning our narrative. We started owning our story. We did what other businesses were unwilling to do. And that was back in 2008, 2009, 2010. It took to the pandemic for people to wake up and go, wait, the internet matters. I need to have a business that’s online. I need to care about my website. I need to care about my email. I need to care about social media. I need to be on LinkedIn. Like, yeah.

100%. I mean, you don’t need to be, but if you don’t, someone else is going to be, and they’re going to find much better, deeper business connections. I mean, I learning about you and what you guys do just because you’re willing to reach out and have a podcast. And that’s a powerful lesson to anyone that’s listening to this. Everyone’s trying to go to a networking event, go to a trade show, go to a conference, go to a golf outing, a happy hour. There’s deep ways to build deep connections and their tools are right in front of us.

Anthony Codispoti (17:09.707)
And so you just learn by doing. Were there courses that you took along the way? Were there people, there mentors that kind of helped guide you in this process? Or you just strictly learned by doing and bumping your toes?

Shawn Walchef (17:12.166)

Shawn Walchef (17:23.782)
I mean, obviously there’s mentors. I have lots of mentors. David Meltzer is one of my media mentor. I’ve been working with him since 2020. Gary V is somebody that I’ve never met, but obviously huge fan of the content. I remember in 2017, which was the year that we officially launched our media company, started our first podcast. I remember sitting at my desk and getting a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine with Gary V on the cover.

And I was reading the article about VaynerX and about what they were doing. and I couldn’t believe that someone in his position at his, you know, running an ad agency believes so much in social media because everyone else didn’t care about it. Anyone that was in building a significant business laughed at YouTube, laughed at Instagram, you know, laughed at that Twitter. Those are all just side benefits, but he was using it as a primary communication tool.

I was like, maybe this is somebody I should listen to. And I listened to his podcast, read his books and whether it was, you know, Gary V or Tim Ferris or like it said, David Meltzer. so many of those people I admire and look up to that. That’s the beauty is like, I don’t need to go to university to go sit and, you know, listening to professor Gary V. I can literally just turn it on when I’m driving on my way to the restaurant.

Anthony Codispoti (18:41.611)
It’s an amazing age that we live in. So, okay, so you started this restaurant, ran into troubles. You’re like, okay, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to change our approach here. So you started to learn how to use these digital tools. And then at what point did you decide, hey, this is working really well for us and our restaurant, which would later become Restaurants. I want to open up a media company to offer these same ideas and services to other people.

Shawn Walchef (19:16.557)
content where we weren’t getting paid. I was spending my own money, restaurant money on this crazy idea that having a weekly podcast, weekly video podcast, long form content, short form content, professional article, website article, newsletter, all of those things would pay off. And I had people close to me that I love and care about and respect that are like, Sean, like, we can’t keep spending money on doing this. I’m like, this works.

Like, well, what are the numbers? What are the analytics say? Like, well, nobody’s listening. That’s the problem. When you first start, nobody’s listening. Nobody’s watching. Nobody’s reading. And when that happens, it’s a real gut check to the person that’s the actual creator to go, is this worth it? And most people will quit. I mean, there’s a statistic that there’s 2 million podcasts on Apple podcast, 2 million podcasts, 25 % of those are one episode.

meaning 25 % of those two million, 500 ,000 people publish one episode and go, this is too much work. I didn’t get all the benefits of starting a media company or started a podcast or launching a show. 60 % of those people don’t even make it to 10 episodes. 60 % of 2 million don’t even make it to 10 episodes. It tells me everything that I need to know.

That if I’m willing to consistent, persistent pursuit of the thing that I believe in, of knowing that there’s someone somewhere in the world that’s just as crazy as I am that loves restaurants and loves hospitality, loves technology. That if I have great conversations, if I follow my curiosity and bring on people that I respect and I admire and ask them intelligent questions that I want to learn from, then maybe they’ll tune in next week. And not only maybe they’ll tune in, but maybe they’ll reach out.

If they’re in London, if they’re in Australia, if they’re in Canada, if they’re in Mexico. And sure enough, now here we are seven years later, we’ve got a community of people all over the globe that meet on a weekly basis that connect that follow me on TikTok, follow me on LinkedIn, connect on Instagram. It’s an amazing thing.

Anthony Codispoti (21:30.153)
And why do people tune in? What can they expect to learn and hear from you?

Shawn Walchef (21:34.42)
So I think every show that we do is different. We want to have specifics of what what does someone get to learn the digital hospitality show, which is a show that we’ve been doing for seven years is much more focused on four things. The four C’s, which is content, commerce, communication and community. What is the intersection of all of those four C’s between content, between commerce, between community and between communication? All of those things, they all happen on a smartphone.

That’s the magic. We have the greatest tool that’s ever been given to a business owner and we take it for granted. All of us, myself included. And all I do is talk about it. How powerful the tool is. You know, I am, I’m a man that is the worst man there is when it comes to, go and fix the car, go and fix something in the house. My wife has the toolbox. Like I can’t fix anything, but my tool is a smartphone.

And she knows that we make fun of each other. We do it all in love, but I can do anything with a smartphone. And why, because I use it every single day. I use audio, video, words, images. I use all the apps. I don’t discriminate. I don’t care. I’m curious. I go down the thread of figuring out how do I build community? How do I connect with people? And because of that, we have opportunities to work with the greatest technology brands in the restaurant space. You know, we work with companies like toast restaurant, three 65, seven shifts, Uber.

Yelp. I mean, we have this laundry list of the best in class of digital hospitality tools for restaurant owners and they count on us to be part of their content team.

Anthony Codispoti (23:12.233)
So when you were first getting started on this media journey for your own restaurant, what were some of the biggest levers that you pulled that were moving the needle for you?

Shawn Walchef (23:21.677)

Anthony Codispoti (23:22.729)
and what were you doing, what kind of video were you creating and where were you posting it, how were you making use of it.

Shawn Walchef (23:28.525)
The most important thing that anybody that’s listening to this, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, but the internet wants a video. I mean, we’re in 2024 moving forward. There’s a reason why tick tock is as popular as it is. There’s a reason why Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app. You go on there. It’s all reels. Facebook does the same thing. YouTube shorts is as popular as it is. Video is showing versus telling. You know, we at Cali barbecue media, we say be the show, not the commercial.

You know, back to my children, I have a seven year old boy and a five year old girl. And I remember when they first started using a tablet and watching YouTube kids, the first digital button that they learned how to hit. Do you know what it was? Skip.

Anthony Codispoti (24:07.976)

Anthony Codispoti (24:12.392)
We’ve had enough of this. Move on to the next one, huh?

Shawn Walchef (24:14.701)
Like they’re watching a cartoon, you know, my son watching it about dinosaurs and then YouTube plays an ad about something, you know, driven towards his audience. So it’s not, you know, some, but, but his story is getting interrupted. He doesn’t want his story, his content interrupted. So he learned how to hit skip my daughter watching somebody, you know, a girl playing with dolls or playing with makeup, skip. We’re adults. We still don’t want to see commercials.

Yet here we are, you know, advertising agency spending all this time to make commercials. What we do and what we teach is use the tool that’s in your hand. If you own a restaurant, every single person in your restaurant, yourself included has a phone. 4k minimum 4k quality phone that you can publish. You can live stream to the internet to show how do you make what you make. Open up your kitchen. You know, if you go on Cali BBQ’s TikTok or our Instagram,

you’ll see pictures of our pit master making barbecue. Literally, I bring people into the kitchen, I take my iPhone and I hit play. And I watch Bernice fabricate 150 racks of ribs. No high editing. I have multiple video editors, but that’s not what I publish. We make all different types of videos, but the ones that perform the best are just raw. Bernice making ribs.

Anthony Codispoti (25:38.728)
So you’re showing sort of the behind the scenes. Here’s what’s going on. Here’s how we do what we do. And then how are you getting the eyeballs? Build it and they will come. Doesn’t always work online. You put the content up there, and now how are you putting it to work for you?

Shawn Walchef (25:55.917)
I mean, I think that’s, that is how you put it to work by putting it online. The problem is most people don’t put it online. So what we say is the problem that most business owners, myself included, is that we see the internet. We want quality. We want that commercial quality. We see the people that we admire, the brands that we admire and we go, I want that video. The problem is that brand or that company or that creator, they’ve spent thousands of videos before they made that video.

Go back to their first videos. They were terrible. So the answer to quality is quantity plus speed plus consistency. Quantity, speed, consistency. You need more reps. You need more shots on goal. And if you don’t press publish because of your fear of what is someone going to think? My kitchen’s dirty. The lighting’s not good. The knife doesn’t look right. I didn’t put my hair up.

Anthony Codispoti (26:39.943)
You need more repetitions to get better.

Shawn Walchef (26:55.341)
I don’t like the way that I look. I’m overweight. Like all of those insecurities that every single human has, including myself, prevents people from hitting publish. I mean, what’s the number one fear? What’s humans? Number one fear.

Anthony Codispoti (27:07.367)
Failure, rejection, judgment?

Shawn Walchef (27:09.453)
speaking in public.

People would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy for the funeral.

Anthony Codispoti (27:17.895)
I haven’t heard it put like that before. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.

Shawn Walchef (27:20.301)
It’s a legit, it is a legitimate human fear. They would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy for the funeral.

Anthony Codispoti (27:28.838)
And so you’re saying that’s what holds a lot of people back from pushing record is. Yeah.

Shawn Walchef (27:32.397)
It’s the same reason on social. I do this all day long, every day, CEOs of publicly traded companies, startup tech founders, people that are very brilliant in sales, very brilliant in marketing, but we all are humans and we’re all scared of judgment. Myself included. I was terrified to go on the local news. I, once we started doing social media and started posting on Instagram, doing videos, all of the things that I wanted for our business started happening.

the local news, the local magazines, national news. We had all of these different legacy media outlets reaching out to us to do stories. And I was terrified because I didn’t want to sound stupid talking about barbecue in San Diego on the West Coast. Why? Because there’s people from Texas, there’s people from the Carolinas, there’s people from Memphis, from Kansas City, where barbecue is religion. But what does this guy from San Diego know anything? Cali barbecue. Get out of here. What a joke. Big time.

Anthony Codispoti (28:26.629)
You’ve got imposter syndrome. It’s very common, yeah. And so you’re publishing the content, are you running ads to it or you’re putting it up there and just kind of letting nature take its course and hoping the algorithms shine brightly upon you?

Shawn Walchef (28:30.125)
Big time.

Shawn Walchef (28:41.165)
We do both. So we test with ads, but we are more focused on organic than anything. And we care more about building an organic machine so that we can find which type of content performs the best so that we can put ads against that type of content.

Anthony Codispoti (28:57.285)
And so this is the service that you’re not only doing for your own restaurants, but you’re doing for your clients as well. You’re encouraging your clients, hey, just pick up your smartphone, just start recording. Let us give you some ideas to get you started, but then you guys pick it up, you guys make the content, and then we’ll help you distribute it and make use of it. Is that?

Shawn Walchef (29:05.389)

Shawn Walchef (29:15.917)
Yeah, the problem that companies have is that they want to get their message out. So they hire a PR firm or they hire a social media agency and no offense to the PR firms or the social media agencies out there, but most of them are terrible and they’re not terrible because of intent. Like they don’t want to be terrible. Just the infrastructure is bad. The best story is going to come from who

person from that owns the business, the person that works in the business. It’s not going to come from somebody that’s in a corporate office, you know, down in Madison Avenue. That’s thinking of a best commercial. No, it’s going to come. The truth vibrates the fastest. Where does the truth come from? The truth comes from the owner. Like every single business owner in real life, you can’t be in business if you’re not good at negotiating or or sharing your story or telling your story in real life.

But when it comes to publishing it on YouTube, all of a sudden it’s a big ordeal. All of a sudden it’s like, I can’t be on Tik TOK. I’m too important to be. I don’t do video on LinkedIn. Why not?

Anthony Codispoti (30:19.781)
And so what’s the, to paint a little bit more of a picture for people listening, what they would get signing up with you guys as a service provider. What’s that relationship look like?

Shawn Walchef (30:28.589)
So number one, we do everything for free. So anybody can join our LinkedIn community, which is digital hospitality leaders from all over the globe on Wednesday, on Friday, 10 AM Pacific time, 1 PM Eastern time, 6 PM London time. We have a group of anywhere from 20 to 40 people that join us live. So we, I can get 17 people up on stage. We have one topic every single Wednesday, every Friday, the topic changes, but we have a community of people that share ideas.

knowing that I don’t have all the answers, but we have other people. It’s kind of like crowdsourcing content, like crowdsourcing education of like, let’s pick one thing that we’re, let’s talk about video.

Shawn Walchef (31:17.432)
for video first, we get to go and hear from Troy Hooper, who runs 516 Pepper Lunch restaurants. He’s the CEO of Hot Palate America. Troy Hooper, Jason Berkowitz, all of these incredible leaders that come up on stage to have a conversation, to share their truth, to share their story. And for me, that is our source of truth. That is our community. You know, back to the four C’s, content, community, communication.

How do we care and how do we move our businesses forward? Well, we do it by knowing that we’re not alone. I think that’s probably the most important thing for anybody that’s listening is that entrepreneurs and business owners, we feel like we’re alone.

Anthony Codispoti (32:00.132)
So true. I hear it all the time. And I feel it myself. I’ve been there.

Shawn Walchef (32:03.416)
You know, as a podcaster, right? I’ve been grateful in my barbecue life and my podcasting life, my media life, I never believe in competition. I believe in collaboration over competition. There’s so much business for everybody. So what I do is I find other podcasters, no matter if they just started a show or if they’ve done thousands or 10 ,000s of shows and find out how can we share secrets. And when we share secrets, all of a sudden, like, how did you get that sponsored?

Wait, how did you incorporate, how did you build a community? What did you do with your email? What are you doing with short form video? Like how did you get that article the way I would really love how you did the article and the follow up email, like all of those things. If you don’t make them better every single week, then you will fail. You’ll be part of that 25 % that quit or the 60 % that don’t get to 10 episodes. I care about watching more shows.

Anthony Codispoti (32:51.204)
So, Sean, you’ve got this LinkedIn group that’s free. Is everything related to the media company free or are you offering a paid service as well? Okay, I want to make sure that we highlight that too.

Shawn Walchef (32:56.248)

Shawn Walchef (32:59.864)
We have a, we have a page. Sure. So for brands that are listening, what, what we’ve found is back to the PR problem and the social media agency problem is that it doesn’t matter how many people that are responsible for marketing and sales and revenue content is hard and content can get expensive. If you start to look for content companies or production companies, you’re going to find

commercial video production companies and they are going to charge you $25 ,000, $50 ,000, $100 ,000 to produce a 30 -second commercial and then you have to find a distribution partner. You got to put it on local news, national news, YouTube, wherever you put it. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we talk about and what we offer our clients is to build a show for them. So what we found most media companies is you build a media company, you build attention.

We have a lot of people that listen to our digital hospitality show, and then we partnered with entrepreneur magazines. We have a huge distribution with entrepreneur magazine. So people that visit the website, that listen to the podcast, that watch the video on the video syndication network, advertisers will pay to be on that show. We have some incredible advertisers, Coast, Ovation, Markey, Davao, they all sponsor our content and they help us put on those shows. But what we found is that

What’s even better for a company is to have their own show. If they own their own show, now all of the sales things that they want to do, all of the recruiting things, all of the things they want to do for investors, all of the storytelling, all of the press releases, now it can all be incorporated in a weekly show cadence that also gets distributed across social media. So my production team, what we do is we help companies launch 40 episodes over the course of a year.

And that’s like the highest tier of what we do. The lowest entry level tier is I work one -on -one with founders, CMOs, CFOs, and help them with what we call smartphone storytelling. There’s a lot of low -paying fruit, cheap, low -production stuff that you can do right now today on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on Instagram, with your website, with your email, that will actually start to move the needle instead of spending money.

Shawn Walchef (35:23.48)
hiring somebody that doesn’t know your brand, that’s just out of college, that maybe knows social media. Like the hard work is you. If you care enough to listen to this content, if you care enough to go, I want to listen to this show, maybe Sean had something valuable to say, I love the work that Anthony does. You’re the answer. You’re also the problem.

Anthony Codispoti (35:45.794)
You’re gonna be at the bottleneck, huh? Yeah, and so you’re coaching your clients on, is it like a podcast kind of show, like we’ve got here, like two talking heads sitting side by side, is it more relaxed, like in a restaurant environment where like, you know, they’re taking out their cell phone and they’re just recording what’s going on, or what’s it look like?

Shawn Walchef (36:06.648)
Everything is based, so we have large restaurant groups and restaurant technology companies that are our clients that we’re currently producing shows for, and each show.

It’s got to go to your thesis, your mission statement, your why. And if we get to your thesis, we get to your mission statement, we get to your why. All of the other things are easily figured. Like we can easily figure out what does that look like? And back to the, to the other problem is that you need quantity, you need speed, you need consistency, and then you will get quality. And once you make that investment, the point is that you build the infrastructure so that media and storytelling becomes part of your business.

If you are in the media business, you’re in the storytelling business, not the marketing business. Marketing will come, sales will come, recruiting will come, investment will come, all of those things will come. But if people can’t find you, if people look for whatever specific thing you talked about in your services or your product, if they can’t find it or they don’t find any videos, they’re going to find a competitor.

Anthony Codispoti (37:10.881)
So we talked a little bit about the media company. Where can people find the media company? They want to learn.

Shawn Walchef (37:17.528)
etheshow .media. So

Anthony Codispoti (37:19.713)
Be the show .media. And you mentioned that already, be the show, not the commercial. Talk a little bit more about what that means to you.

Shawn Walchef (37:28.12)
So much of what we’ve learned is that we all learn through lessons and stories.

You know, I have been very fortunate over the last four years to be asked to speak at a lot of big restaurant association shows, trade shows, public speaking events. I always bring my media team. I always capture the content because if there’s three people sitting in the audience or 300 or 3000, I want that video because that video will get published on YouTube, get published on LinkedIn, get published on Tik TOK, go on Instagram and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people will see that content. So I have to.

prepare myself. As I prepare myself, I study the best speakers, the best keynotes, the TED talks, understanding how do people get attention. And the best way that people get attention is through stories. Be the show, not the commercial. When you go to a speech, when you listen to a panel, if you go to a webinar, you know when you’re getting sold. Back to my kids, my kids know they’re putting a cartoon within a cartoon and my kids know, hey,

Something’s not right here. My brain was telling me.

Anthony Codispoti (38:35.392)
And that’s where the guards go up. That’s when we go into defense mode. We’re like, somebody’s trying to sell us. I’m going to tune out. I don’t want this. And so you’re saying, just tell a story. Tell your story. Don’t come across as salesy. Just be a real person. Tell your story. That’ll come across well.

Shawn Walchef (38:44.888)

Shawn Walchef (38:49.144)

Shawn Walchef (38:57.272)
It’s, it seems so simple and I feel stupid saying it, but it goes back to fear. You know, I talk about how do we, how do you build a community and how do you, as a content creator, how do you have the courage to actually post? If you’re listening to this and you’re worried about making your first video, because when I give keynotes, I literally make everyone get up at the end of my keynote and partner up with somebody, switch phones, and then do a video. Why? Because no one’s ever been asked to do a video.

And when you’re asked to share your truth and you have 60 seconds to share your truth, you better tell me a story in 60 seconds about why should I care? That’s your elevator pitch. And people get nervous. I get nervous, but I do it every day. I literally did four videos yesterday. I went with my catering manager, took them to the roof of my restaurant. We have four different brands that we’re working with. I’m doing content with them for certain things that we’re promoting. And I’m like, do I have to do this? Yes, I have to do it.

I’m in this business of storytelling. Yep, it’s still awkward. It’s still weird. I’m sitting in front of a cell phone and talk about something, but the more that I do it, the better that I’ve gotten at it where it’s just second nature. You know, are you willing to start a digital flash mob? Do you know how to start a flash mob?

Anthony Codispoti (40:12.384)
No, how?

Shawn Walchef (40:15.224)
So we say the only way to start a digital flash mob is you have to be willing to be the crazy person that hears the music. You have to be willing to be the crazy person in the town square that hears your truth, that hears your music. And you have to start dancing. That’s what it’s like posting your first video.

Anthony Codispoti (40:35.68)
Do you have any other recommendations for people other than just do it and more reps on how to get past that uncomfortable feeling of doing it for the first time, the first 10 times, the first 20 times? Do you advise people to come up with a script or an outline or to just pull out the camera and just shoot from the hip and just keep going until you find one that feels right?

Shawn Walchef (41:04.248)
So this is what we’ve learned. We’ve learned that if you’re not ready to do 100 videos in 100 days, it’s just never gonna work for you.

And it’s not, and honestly, 95 % of the people that listen right now, they’ll nod their head and know that it’s the right thing that they should do, but this won’t convince them to do it. It’s the 5 % that goes, okay, I’ve been waiting. I see the people in my industry doing the things that I want to do. I have something more valuable to say. I have a different, unique perspective. I’m going to start.

And it’s not about doing one video and it’s not about doing a hundred videos. It’s how do you get to a thousand videos? And once you make that commitment to, I’m going to do a video just like I check my email every day. Now, all of a sudden it’s part of who you are. Storytelling is who you are. And you realize that there’s stories all around you every single day. You have a media team with you every single day, no matter where you go. And you have a unique perspective that no one gets to see. You’re like, well, who gives a shit? A lot of people do.

And you don’t need many people to care because back to that digital flash mob, all you need is one other person to start dancing with you. Now you have two people dancing and those two people dancing, those two people dancing. It might take another month. It might take two months, but then there’ll be four people dancing compounding interest. You know, my, my media mentor, I mentioned him, David Meltzer. He talks about the problem that most people have is that they don’t believe in Noah’s ark.

I was like, what are you talking about Noah’s ark? It’s like not in a biblical sense, not in the Old Testament type of way, but people don’t believe in compounding interest. Two by two by two by two. The time horizon is too short. We think about ROI. What’s the ROI of doing a video a day? I want to see results. I want my first deal. I want a five figure deal, six figure deal. When am I going to land my first client? Because I started podcasting and doing videos. You’re looking at it all wrong.

Anthony Codispoti (42:56.511)
Mm -hmm.

Anthony Codispoti (43:05.215)
I think this is great advice. I think we’ve hit upon something really valuable to pull out a little bit here because I’ve seen this a lot. I’ve seen it in myself. I’ve seen it in a lot of my entrepreneurial friends. Yeah, you hear somebody else’s strategy like, that makes so much sense. It’s working so well for them. You know, whatever it might be, in this case, we’re talking about the video a day. You know, maybe it was Facebook marketing. Maybe it was postcards years ago, you know, and you try it once or twice.

or five or six times, and then you’re getting a little discouraged because it’s not clicking yet, right? The money isn’t flowing in. And so I think this is really great advice that we’re touching upon here. And to hear your version of this, it’s like, you gotta keep going. I mean, how long did you say it took before you, five years?

Shawn Walchef (43:55.032)
here. Can you imagine if I didn’t own the company, if I was within a company and I had to go to a board or a CEO and or CFO and run a proposal for my marketing and media idea, like, Hey, you need to keep investing, keep paying for a producer to produce this video, keep playing for, you know, our distribution network, keep paying for social media club, like keep paying for this stuff. Year one, year two.

Year three. Hey, Sean, when are we going to get the big deal out of this? Year four. I’ve been done.

Anthony Codispoti (44:23.358)
Yeah, I think they would have fired you. If you were an employee, most places would have fired you, yeah.

Shawn Walchef (44:29.24)
But after three years, we switched from a barbecue business from Aloha, our point of sale technology to toast. And because I had three years under my belt of storytelling, I told toast, we are going to tell the best stories possible B to B business to business restaurant owner to restaurant owner videos about why we’re switching to your technology. And they’re like,

Well, we’ll see, we’ll see what you do. I made a toast unboxing video that became the essence of everything that we do. We unboxed point of sale technology, me and my general manager, five minute video on YouTube got shared all throughout the toast company. It landed us at the toast IPO. We got invited 20 restaurants got invited to the I the New York stock exchange. The only reason we’re there is because we were the storytellers. All those restaurants were more successful than we were.

Anthony Codispoti (45:11.869)
That’s fun.

Anthony Codispoti (45:18.429)
That’s great.

Anthony Codispoti (45:22.333)
So what can you share with the audience that can help people get to where you were in less than five years? Well, because obviously you were learning a lot of things along the way, right? Like, let’s try, that didn’t work. Let’s try, that didn’t work. I mean, some of it was you just needed those extra reps to gain the momentum. But clearly, if you were to go back and start all over again, I’m gonna guess that you could get there in less than five years.

Shawn Walchef (45:30.552)
in less than five years.

Shawn Walchef (45:51.384)
Absolutely. I would go all, I would go all in, you know, part of the part of what we’ve learned and what I hope anybody, anytime that I speak on a podcast, on a stage, through our content is that no one’s coming. I can’t say that enough. No one’s coming. We believe that if we’re good enough, somebody will care. Someone will write about us. Somebody will share about us. Someone will tell the like,

The more that you focus on crafting your story, your truth, your why, why you get up every single day to do the things that you do, the more that story will become a legend. The more other people will want to tell that story. We forget comedians, I study comedians, Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock. We forget that these comedians tell the same joke. Thousands.

tens of thousands of times before they have their Netflix special. But we don’t want to repeat ourselves. Like I’ve already, people know why I started the company. Do they? Do they really? Probably not. Companies grow.

Anthony Codispoti (47:03.772)
that people closest to you do, but yeah, there’s a much bigger audience waiting to hear that story.

Shawn Walchef (47:06.712)
Even then I wrote this book with my grandfather He asked me at the end of his life self published this book, which is called the harvest How a Bulgarian farm boy grew wealthy in La Jolla, California? Thank God This is his story Thank God at the end of his life. He cared enough to want to memorialize this story into a book and he asked me to help him do it

Anthony Codispoti (47:17.34)

Anthony Codispoti (47:22.748)
And this is his story?

Shawn Walchef (47:35.064)
That was the beginning of my storytelling journey. And what I learned by doing that is that every single person that’s listening to this, there is someone in your life that you care about and love that has told you stories on Thanksgiving, on Christmas, stories that we know that we almost roll our eyes. grandma, grandpa’s telling the same story. Dad, here we go. Dad’s story about the war. Instead of rolling our eyes, we need to act like journalists. We need to act like reporters.

We need to act like an attorney having a witness on the stand and doing a cross deposition. Ask them deeper questions. Research what was happening in the world along that story and then record it with the thing that you have in your hand.

Anthony Codispoti (48:22.652)
I love that. I love that. We’re not just talking about business here. We’re talking about memorializing the people closest to us, our friends and our family and their stories. But it’s all the same kind of thread. It’s all about storytelling. It’s the stories that we love to hear. We may roll our eyes, but we love to hear it from grandma and grandpa, from our parents, from our aunts and uncles again and again. And we all have those stories. I think that’s a big part of your message here. We all have those stories to tell and especially as business owners.

Shawn Walchef (48:31.416)

Shawn Walchef (48:36.088)
all of it.

Anthony Codispoti (48:51.676)
as people in the hospitality industry, there are stories to be told there and shared with people on a daily basis. And that’s what creates those connections.

Shawn Walchef (48:59.928)
I’ll tell you a story that I recently started sharing because I, you know, fortunate, I’d get asked to go on these podcasts, talk a lot about social media, what small business owners need to do and where do they start and how do they start? What prevents them from starting? And I came up with an orange tree theory. So the orange tree theory is that every business owner, every entrepreneur has an orange tree story.

Anthony Codispoti (49:18.076)
What’s the Orange Tree Theory?

Shawn Walchef (49:27.224)
And my orange tree story is a story that I haven’t told until recently, until I started realizing that this is a fundamental story that I need to tell more. And that by telling this story, I hopefully inspire another business owner to talk about their quote unquote orange tree.

Our orange tree is that my grandfather started our restaurant. The restaurant that I now own and operate back in the late 70s purchased the property. Our family took over in the 90s. So I actually have a photo. This is me as a 13 year old boy washing dishes at Dishwash. This is literally the same setup that we now have. This is me as a 13 year old boy for those that are watching on video. But when I was a boy back in the 90s, my grandfather

Anthony Codispoti (50:02.203)
That’s great.

Shawn Walchef (50:14.314)
and my uncle from Bulgaria, they planted an orange tree in front of our restaurant next to a fountain. So my grandfather loved water, he loved oranges, he loved flowers, he planted a garden next to the restaurant in the parking lot. Fast forward to when my best friend and I from college took over the restaurant 2008. We took over the restaurant, changed how the restaurant was set up, still orange tree was there, fountain was there. We turned it into a sports bar.

The sports bar, we had a Chargers versus Raiders game, Monday night football game. Packed, wall to wall with people. Chargers fans started fighting with the Raiders fan in the bar and they made their way out of the bar and they started fighting in the fountain and smashed my grandfather’s fountain. Grandfather’s fountain was smashed. We, my wife and I, we rebuilt another fountain next to the orange tree.

And my wife is Bulgarian, so I was very fortunate to marry a Bulgarian woman that cared just as much about water as well as trees. Fast forward to the pandemic. During the pandemic, we decided to go all in on building the Amazon of barbecue, opening up these ghost kitchen locations, having a commissary kitchen, delivering to stadiums, airports, breweries, now the Navy base. So we needed more smokers. We were going to remove all of the

back patio of our restaurant and install these smokers. We had five different meetings with our general contractor, with my restaurant consultant, with my general manager, with my wife, myself. And you know what the problem was? Is that we couldn’t put those smokers in with the orange tree. It was in the way. It was going to get in the way of where the truck would come to load up the barbecue and where the deliveries would come to drop it off.

Anthony Codispoti (51:55.514)
Mm -hmm.

Shawn Walchef (52:04.76)
So we said, we got to remove the orange tree. My wife said, there is no chance in hell you remove it.

Anthony Codispoti (52:10.042)
Thank you.

Shawn Walchef (52:11.736)
we fought all five meetings and guess what? That orange tree is still there. Orange tree is still there to this day. We’ve built around the orange tree. So if you come to the restaurant, there is an unassuming orange tree next to the smokers that has been there since my grandfather and my uncle built it. Now why do I tell the story? Because it has significance to me, my family, my roots.

Anthony Codispoti (52:15.802)
So what did you do? How did you work around it?

Anthony Codispoti (52:22.074)
That’s great.

Shawn Walchef (52:37.272)
But it’s so unassuming that you wouldn’t think who would give a shit about an orange tree at your restaurant. Well, it means a lot to me. It means a lot to my wife. It means a lot to my team. And now the more that I share it, the more that it means to the people that come to our restaurant because they go, Sean, I saw you orange tree. I remember the story that you told me about.

Anthony Codispoti (52:55.578)
I love that. It’s a story with emotion, with feeling, with reverence towards your grandfather. And for people who now come to your location and they see that orange tree, they’re like, they’re gonna tell the person that they’re with, hey, there’s a cool story behind this. Let me share it with you. That’s great. I wanna go back to something that you said a little bit earlier. You guys did a lot of these ghost kitchens during the pandemic and you’re in the process of, I think you’re closing down the last one, but.

There are lessons that you learn from those ghost kitchens and working in those smaller environments that you’re now able to take into, I think it’s your third location you said that you’re getting ready to open up soon. What are some of those lessons that you learned?

Shawn Walchef (53:38.52)
I think the lesson is.

Being able to deliver high quality barbecue daily from a commissary, you know, understanding the logistical standpoint of we cook barbecue every single day. So every single night we’re putting on brisket, we’re putting on pork butts. We cook those in preparation for the next day and being able to take delivery the next day and put it out to a satellite location, whether that’s a stadium, a Navy base, hopefully an airport someday. but those lessons of knowing that we don’t need a full staff and a full barbecue

restaurant. I don’t need to go open another open up another 5 ,000 square foot, $1 million, $2 million restaurant to do those types of sales volume. We’re able to do it and you know this is still to be determined because like I said the Ghost Kitchen’s been to work out the way that I did but the way that I thought they would but knowing what I know about the Navy base and the locations that are in the Navy we’re very very excited about this opportunity and we can’t wait to get it open.

Anthony Codispoti (54:36.154)
So what you learned from the ghost kitchens was just basically a more efficient way to be able to run a similar operation. And we’ve heard, we’ve followed the stories, ghost kitchens became very popular during the pandemic. People kind of thought this was gonna be next big thing. There was a lot of private equity money poured into this. And now a lot of that has been pulled back. And I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. What I hear from other folks is that the dynamics just changed.

Shawn Walchef (54:40.376)
Yes. Correct.

Anthony Codispoti (55:04.25)
when the country opened back up after the pandemic, it’s still here, but the virus is still here, but things have subsided, the country’s opened back up. We really learned how much we missed being around each other, how much we missed being at a restaurant in person. Is this the dynamic that you think has unfolded?

Shawn Walchef (55:23.96)
Kind of, yes and no. I think part of the problem, the problem with ghost kitchens is number one, it’s a branding problem. No one wants to eat at a ghost. We always said it was a friendly ghost kitchen, Casper kitchen, it made much more sense than a ghost kitchen. Huge, huge branding problem. But number two, most of the ghost kitchen locations suffered from the same problem that we suffered from back in 2008.

Location location location all of those ghost kitchens were all opened up in urban areas where people didn’t know they were restaurants So if the landlord didn’t buy into the marketing and the media and the storytelling side It was a huge uphill battle for a small brand that’s renting a 200 square foot kitchen spending five thousand dollars plus or rent and they’re having to

deliver through Uber, e -store, Vash, Grubhub, which are all third party, you know, 20%, 30 % commissions, very difficult business model. You’ve got to do a high volume of sales in order to do that. It makes much more sense for an established brand like a Starbucks or a Chick -fil -A to have a satellite location to offset because they’re doing $5 million, $8 million out of one location in downtown LA where they can offset a couple.

Anthony Codispoti (56:35.226)

Shawn Walchef (56:36.792)
in their catering business and to -go business out of a Ghost Kitchen location.

Anthony Codispoti (56:40.922)
So do you think there’s still the opportunity for ghost kitchens under a different brand, a different name to succeed if they were in better locations or is this just something people are okay?

Shawn Walchef (56:50.803)
I do. I do. I think there is definitely an opportunity, but there has to be buy -in from the landlord. The landlord and the actual Ghost Kitchen brands and people that run them, they have to understand the dynamics of driving traffic to the location. It’s kind of like the problem with food courts is that there’s no delivery out of food courts.

But food courts do have a big draw. There are some successful food courts. There are a lot of food courts that are better dying as well. So it’s kind of understanding there’s a dynamic in between what’s the mix in between both of them. What’s gonna draw enough traffic but also be cost effective for.

a smaller unit, you know, restaurant to be able to operate out of because the economics of running a restaurant are just, they’re difficult. I mean, there’s a reason why so focused on adding media revenue right now, our overall revenue, 25 % of our revenue comes from our media company. Eventually we know that our media revenue will be at 75 % and the barbecue revenue will be 25%.

Anthony Codispoti (57:52.09)
Okay, that’s the direction that this is headed. Yep.

Shawn Walchef (57:56.28)
Storytelling is more scalable than selling craft barbecue.

Anthony Codispoti (58:00.698)
You don’t need quite the infrastructure. You don’t need to open up a million dollar restaurant to increase sales.

Shawn Walchef (58:06.072)
Yeah, thankfully a lot of technology companies have already built the infrastructure that we need for a story.

Anthony Codispoti (58:10.199)
Right. Actually, that leads me to a question I like to ask sometimes, which is, as business owners, we’ve always got our eye on the bottom line, right? And there’s two ways to move that, right? One is finding creative ways to increase sales, and the other one is creative ways to lower expenses. Curious to hear from you, other than things we’ve already talked about, what are some interesting strategies that you’ve tried on either one of those levers to move your bottom line?

Shawn Walchef (58:39.928)
I mean, to be honest with you, that’s the deep thesis of the work that we do. I mean, the show that I produce for entrepreneurs called Restaurant Influencers, the work that I’m doing is finding the best hospitality professionals and storytellers on earth in the creator economy. Part of the issue is that there’s business owners that don’t understand that they also can tell B2B stories.

You know, we work with a lot of brands that have shows and we help them get sponsorship deals because getting sponsorship deals are hard. You know, no one wants to get paid free stuff or get paid for one video. You need a sponsor for a quarter. You need a sponsor for a year. You need a sponsor for three years. If you actually want to sustain and build something that’s going to last into the future. So for us, the media side, how do we add revenue? I’m literally working on it every single day. When I get off, when I get off the.

this call, I’m going to be working on, you know, what do we, what do we offer? You know, how can brand, if a brand can’t spend six figures to pay for 40 shows where our team becomes their production teams, what other tiers of services can we offer? Because there’s a lot of things that my company can do, but it’s also just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. You know, that’s a principle that we learned at our restaurant. Before we had a restaurant, there was a breakfast restaurant, a brunch restaurant, a lunch restaurant, a dinner restaurant, a sports bar.

And eventually over the last 16 years, we’ve gotten honed in on what do we do best? We’re a barbecue brand, Galli Barbecue. We have a very limited menu. And does that mean that we couldn’t add fish tacos or carne asada tacos or breakfast again? It does, we could, but is that going to be the best use of my time? To your point of like, where do we focus our time?

Refocusing my time on how do I best help brands me personally but then access to my team That’s where we’re gonna focus on and that’s where we believe so many people that are listening if you build a media company if you build a show You have so many people within your partnership network that also needs social storytelling Eventually if you get a show that’s good enough they’d be willing to offset your costs to help you produce that show because they don’t they don’t

Shawn Walchef (01:00:54.68)
They don’t want to do the work themselves and they value you as a partner.

Anthony Codispoti (01:00:59.03)
Let’s talk about your team for a moment, Sean. You know, whether we’re talking about the media company or the restaurant, you know, it’s a competitive job market. Recruiting, retaining good employees can be really challenging. What’s something that you’ve tried and found success with in recruiting and retaining good talent?

Shawn Walchef (01:01:19.64)
That’s easy. It’s personal branding. Speaking my truth. Because I…

Anthony Codispoti (01:01:24.79)
They get connected to who you are and what you represent.

Shawn Walchef (01:01:28.568)
People, I have someone that I just hired on our leadership team for our barbecue restaurant that he’s been listening to our show since 2019. He was a restaurant owner. Restaurant owner that sold his restaurants, he retired and he’s been listening and he heard that there was a job opportunity through one of my Instagram posts. And because of that, he knows who we are. He knows what we’re about.

Like I can’t make that story up. I hope he works out. I don’t know when this is going to get published. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but he’s been phenomenal. He’s been a phenomenal hire. And it’s something that back in 2017, it wasn’t a goal of the podcast. It was like, I’m going to be able to recruit talent because I put on a show. But people, but people listen.

Anthony Codispoti (01:02:13.238)
But it’s worked out that way.

Shawn Walchef (01:02:16.407)
And the more people that I’ve interviewed, the more CEOs that don’t have any digital presence that come onto our show, not only do they come onto our show, but when someone wants to work for them, they go on the internet, they put the CEO’s name in and guess what comes up? Their episode of coming on my show. And then they listen for 45 minutes and they go, I’m convinced. I either want to, or I don’t want to work for this company.

Anthony Codispoti (01:02:39.638)
which is better for everybody in the long run. Let’s get to the correct answer more quickly.

Shawn Walchef (01:02:41.912)

I want to hear the truth. I want to know who the leadership is. What do they care about? What are the things that they talk about?

Anthony Codispoti (01:02:51.574)
So let’s talk about something a little bit vulnerable here. You mentioned there were some lawsuits at one point. Yeah, what can you tell us about that experience?

Shawn Walchef (01:02:56.12)

Sure. Number one is don’t try to shave costs. We tried to cut costs when we were hosting Fight Nights. So Fight Nights is when you pay for a boxing event as a commercial establishment, you have to pay for occupancy. We didn’t pay for a commercial occupancy, we paid for a residential one. And the company that holds the licensing right, it sued us for significant amounts of money that almost bankrupt us.

thankfully we were able to come up with a settlement, but for boxing and for UFC, those lawsuits were very difficult times. Very, very brutal. the first lawsuit that I was involved in was, with our business partner that we opened up the restaurant even before Corey and myself opened up the restaurant in 2008. So 2007, he had a breakfast business and we were going to add the sports bar and dinnerside. And he decided that he didn’t want that. we didn’t have a good partnership agreement.

we didn’t have a partnership agreement, we got stuck into a into a messy lawsuit. I think one of the reasons why we started the show that we do is because when I went to business school, I mean I went to school and I went to study business and the classes that I was taking

I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear. The only time I was engaged is when they had a guest speaker who was a business owner come and speak to the class. I would take pages of notes like, my gosh, this is how you build business. But when the professor was talking from the textbook, I wasn’t engaged. I was tuned out. So I ended up studying sociology, graduating with a sociology. It was like, if I put on a show and talk about all of the stuff that goes wrong in business, all of the vulnerable moments that we have, maybe someone else can learn from our mistakes.

Shawn Walchef (01:04:43.514)
so that they don’t have to make those mistakes.

Anthony Codispoti (01:04:46.326)
Speaking of mistakes, what’s something you wish you could teach a younger version of yourself, Sean?

Shawn Walchef (01:04:53.08)
something ask for help. So back to my grandfather, the three things that I talk about whenever I get the opportunity is the three things he taught me, which is stay curious, get involved, ask for help. Curious people.

They listen to podcasts, curious people go to events, curious people are continuing to educate themselves, curious people get involved. But getting involved, you know, the funny story about getting involved is I remember when I was writing this book with my grandfather, I was about 21, 22, 23, and we traveled throughout Western Europe and Eastern Europe to get materials for the book. And I remember my grandfather was always at the front of the tour bus, always asking questions.

And I remember growing up because he raised me and he would always say, Sean, do you sit in the front of the class? Well, no, grandpa, I don’t sit in front of the class. It’s like, I sit in the back because I want to hang out with my buddies. You need to sit in front of the class. And I didn’t understood what he meant until much later in life where I realized like getting involved. The people that get involved are the ones that are willing to do the work that are willing to raise their hands, that are willing to ask for help, that are willing to send the email to ask the question. If you hear this podcast now.

Anthony Codispoti (01:05:46.454)

Shawn Walchef (01:06:07.)
and you have a question, send me a DM on LinkedIn. I will respond to anybody. I will give you time on my calendar, whatever you’re building. But you gotta do the work. You gotta do the work, like getting involved and then finally asking for help. It’s never been easier to ask for help. It’s never been easier where there’s Twitter and Facebook and TikTok and LinkedIn and podcasts. Like people are, I’m weirdly available.

It’s ridiculous how available I am to somebody that listens and they say, Hey, Sean, I listened to your show with Anthony. I would love to get you on or talk to you or speak to my company and talk about smartphone storytelling or how to become a media company. I’ll do it. But I do it because I know that stories matter. And if I can do that for another company, I can do that for another brand. I can do that for another entrepreneur. I get to a place where Anthony reaches out to me to have him on a show.

Anthony Codispoti (01:07:01.718)
Well, that’s how this show happened. I reached out to Sean on LinkedIn. I sent him a DM, and we set it up pretty quickly. And we’ll include the link to your LinkedIn profile in our show notes. But if you’re listening now and you don’t have the show notes in front of you, his name is just Sean, S -H -A -W -N, and Walchef is W -A -L, and then Chef, C -H -E -F. You can find him pretty easily. It’s a unique name.

Shawn Walchef (01:07:02.328)

Anthony Codispoti (01:07:27.958)
And you know talking about you know yeah curious people get involved and for those people who are curious and they want to learn more or get involved with this free LinkedIn mastermind that you have how do they find that?

Shawn Walchef (01:07:40.344)
Easiest is to just contact me on LinkedIn. I will add you to the I’ll send you the direct link. It’s Sean P. Walsh of S. H. A. W. N. P. W. A. L. C. H. E. F. Cali BBQ Media on LinkedIn. That’s where we post the rooms, but sometimes it’s hard to find. I’m happy to if you give me your email, I can add you to the Google calendar invite so that it shows up on your calendar. But meet the community. You can listen if you want to hear what it’s like. You can just go to our digital hospitality feed on Spotify.

or Apple podcast and look for Rising Tide, LinkedIn Live, that’s the series. So Rising Tide, LinkedIn Live, if you go on Spotify, you can find all of our previous episodes. We repurpose them so you can get an idea of who’s up on stage, what are you talking about, what’s the flow like. But it goes back to stay curious, get involved, ask for help. Curiosity will bring you to the room. You gotta raise your hand and come up on stage and speak your truth.

Anthony Codispoti (01:08:34.61)
I love it. And based on all the great information and content you’ve shared with us today, I have no doubt that the information inside of your podcast is tremendous as well. Just a couple of other questions for you, Sean. I’m curious, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

Shawn Walchef (01:08:49.88)
I have completed a fan Grand Slam. So the Grand Slam for tennis is the French Open, the US Open, the Wimbledon, and the Aussie Open. And thanks to my grandfather, we’ve traveled and we’ve been to all of those.

Anthony Codispoti (01:08:53.65)
What does that mean?

Anthony Codispoti (01:09:06.898)
That’s fun. Did you grow up always being a tennis fan, or was this something that’s…

Shawn Walchef (01:09:10.904)
We’re playing tennis because of my grandfather. Yeah. My grand, my Bulgarian grandfather, Japanese grandmother, they were all the kids were playing baseball. I was playing tennis. Yeah.

Anthony Codispoti (01:09:19.634)
That’s great. One last question for you, Sean, but before I do it, if you listen today and you like today’s content, please hit the subscribe, like, or share button on your favorite podcast app. And then we’ve already told people how to get in touch with you. LinkedIn direct message is the best way. But last question for you, Sean, I’m kind of curious, and you can answer this from two different perspectives, both from the restaurant and the media company.

What do you think are the big changes that are coming in your space in the next five years? Where do you think this is going?

Shawn Walchef (01:09:56.312)
I think we’re going to build deeper communities, deeper communities than we’ve ever built that people are going to start to understand that the problems that we think are problems in San Diego and California and the United States, they’re global hospitality problems. I mean, I’ve already seen it. It’s just, it’s the internet has made the world so small. And just because you’re in South Africa and you run a fine dining restaurant, your problems are the same problems that someone has in Chicago or the same problems that someone has in Ottawa, the same problems

that someone has in Sydney. And once we start to understand in the companies, the brands that start to support communities by being the show and not the commercial, not we’re gonna build this community so that we can sell them something, but no, give us a stage, get us together, let us have intelligent conversations where we can learn from each other and share ideas. I think there’s gonna be something really cool that’s gonna happen in the next five to 10 years for sure, from a global standpoint.

Anthony Codispoti (01:10:52.688)
That’s terrific. Sean, I want to be the first one to thank you so much for sharing both your time and your story with us today. I really appreciate it.

Shawn Walchef (01:11:00.568)
I really appreciate you having me on Anthony. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego one day for some slow smoked barbecue. There you go.

Anthony Codispoti (01:11:06.384)
I don’t have to twist my arm too hard for that. Well folks, that’s a wrap on another episode of the Inspired Stories podcast. Thanks for learning with us today.