Genius Knows No Boundaries

Interview by Billy Shore

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What is causing the failure of leadership in our government and society? Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and famed restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group, Shake Shack) join host Billy Shore to discuss a variety of issues ranging from immigration, urban renewal, educational opportunity and the reasons for the current crisis in our political culture. “All of us in life constantly face divided loyalties. Where are your obligations? The problem with many political leaders is they lose sight of the proper hierarchy of obligations and loyalties,” says Mitchell. “[It’s the] confluence among self-interest, the interests of our guests and the interests of the city. Investing in people and places and organizations that can lift the whole,” explains Meyer about his own hierarchy of obligations when he applies his signature approach of opening new restaurants in transitional neighborhoods.

When the conversation turns to immigration, Mitchell discusses the history and the opportunities it presents for the United States. “You have to think about how much our country has benefited from immigration; how immigrants have brought new life, new energy, new views. Genius knows no language, no race, no religion… but it tends to flourish where there is freedom and opportunity,” he says. Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group understands that immigrants are the backbone of the restaurant industry and its commitment to help them succeed. “I think what our industry needs to work on quite a bit is how do we elevate [immigrant workers beyond entry level], how do we give you the tools,” says Meyer, noting that they offer English as a Second Language programs to their employees to help them increase their economic potential.

Listen to three of the most accomplished leaders in their respective fields deliver a master class on the critical issues facing our nation.

Resources and Mentions:

George Mitchell

Served as a United States Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995. Since retiring from the Senate, Mitchell has taken up a variety of positions in politics and business. He was appointed United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland from 1995 to 2001 by President Clinton and United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from 2009 to 2011 by President Obama. He has served as a director of Walt Disney Corporation, FedEx, Xerox, Unilever, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and the Boston Red Sox. Since 2002, Mitchell has been a Senior Fellow and Senior Research Scholar for Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution.
Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer

CEO
CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Union Square Cafe, and Gramercy Tavern. Meyer, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Meyer serves on the board of Share Our Strength and has long supported hunger relief initiatives including City Harvest, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

The Mitchell Institute

Seeks to increase the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue, and achieve a college education. It’s guiding tenet — that no Maine student with the qualifications and ambition to pursue a college education should be denied that opportunity due to limited financial resources — is as important today as it was when Senator Mitchell established the Institute. From its inception, the Mitchell Institute has made financial investments in deserving Maine students. It’s approach works: 85% of Mitchell Scholars complete college and achieve a degree, compared with 55% of students nationally. 89% of Mitchell Scholar Alumni are working in career-related jobs — nearly two-thirds of them in Maine — and 40% have completed or are pursuing graduate degrees.

Union Square Hospitality Group

Union Square Hospitality Group has created some of New York’s most beloved restaurants, cafes, and bars, which offer outstanding food delivered with its signature warmth and hospitality. Founded by CEO Danny Meyer with the opening of Union Square Cafe in 1985, the company now extends beyond the walls of its eateries. In addition to creating Shake Shack, USHG offers operational consulting and runs a multifaceted catering and events business, Union Square Events. With operations in New York, Las Vegas, and Washington DC, USHG has long supported its communities by supporting hunger relief and civic organizations. USHG holds 28 James Beard Awards and numerous accolades for its distinctive style of hospitality.

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