There’s an Einstein Bagel shop in my town that recently went through a managerial transition. For those of us who were regulars, we could just feel the change coming. The store was languishing a bit and change was needed. The outgoing manager was a really nice guy, but seemed burned out. The new manager has re-ignited the place.

I noticed an immediate change in the vibe of the store upon her arrival. It’s full of energy and direction. It’s obvious she understands the “way” of Einstein and is intent on developing a staff who will implement it. Her best quality is that she is consistently modeling the values through her own work ethic.

One of the hallmarks of Einstein’s is the phrase, “Hot Bagels,” which the manager or baker yell when taking the bagels out of the oven. In response, the crew is to echo “Hot Bagels” with gusto. The same is true of coffee. When it’s made fresh, the phrase is, “Hot Coffee,” and the reply with gusto (everybody now) “Hot Coffee.”

Toward the end of the outgoing manager’s tenure, the hot bagel/hot coffee mantra was um, to say the least, anemic and embarrassing. The person taking the bagels out of the oven would eek out the phrase with a lack of passion that actually drew attention to him. Then, the crew, in unison, IGNORED him. It was hard to watch.

Wow, did things change when the new manager came. I hadn’t been in the shop in a while. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. An energized crew, all responding in unison with “hot bagel” or “hot coffee.” Ah, the power of good leadership.

So…today, I went in to get a bagel. While waiting, I saw the new manager take bagels out of the oven. As she did…you know what’s coming don’t you…she enthusiastically said, “hot bagels” and NO ONE replied. She said it again. Still no answer. She said it a third time. And, presto…”hot bagels” came the reply.


Making change is nothing compared to sustaining it.

Anyone can say “hot bagels” once, twice, even for a month. But, to make the “crew banter” a norm like it is at Seattle’s fish market, now that’s leadership.