San Diego: Changemaker Chat with Jackie Reed

For the first chat of 2018, we were excited to spend time with Jackie Reed, CEO of TS Restaurants. After over 29 years with the family owned company, Jackie now holds the top spot managing 13 restaurants with over $100 million in revenue annually and 2,400 employees. Jackie gave us a great overview of her journey as well as tips for success.

Embrace the detours – Jackie has found her life shaped by a number detours that might have been challenges at the time but ultimately led to her success. She also learned that life isn’t a straight path to success and that sometimes the detours lead to the best outcomes. Her key lessons include:

Surround Yourself With The Right People: The first detour was a childhood that would have statistically sent her down the wrong path. However while her mom wasn’t always able to give her financial benefits, she gave something so much more and that was the belief that anything was possible. Jackie learned early to surround herself with people that helped push her forward.

Culture Fit Is Important – The second detour, was her acceptance to USC and her first lesson in culture fit. She realized it wasn’t the right school for her and left in the first year. After school, she applied for a hostess position at TS Restaurants and the culture of family and friendship spoke to her. TS Culture is both what kept Jackie there for 29 years as well as what helps her manage such a large team. Alignment of culture and values is important in scaling a company and engaging employees. Now, when leading her team, she ensures their values are aligned with those of TS. If they aren’t, then she focuses on supporting them to become their best selves by helping them find something else they are passionate about.

The Importance Of Mentors & Listening – When Jackie started as hostess at Leilani’s, the owner Sandy Saxten became her first real mentor. After the shame she felt from dropping out of college, his encouragement and belief that she could be somebody, along with his professional and personal guidance really helped shape her self-confidence. Sandy remains one of the most important figures that shaped Jackie’s life and she wouldn’t have met him if she’d stayed in college. He was there for her as a boss, a role model and a father figure. Sandy also took time to listen to her. Through his actions,

he said “I see you, notice you, and think you have something worth listening to. You can be somebody and I’m going to help you get there”. She believes that one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone is to make them feel that you care and they are worth listening to and works to do that with her team.

Explore Different Positions To Find Fit – While Jackie loved TS, she didn’t always love her role. Historically most women in the company were in accounting so she found some success there and eventually worked up to Controller. While accounting wasn’t her passion, she stayed and kept volunteering for projects outside of her responsibilities and kept learning inside and outside of work, earning her bachelor’s degree while working full-time and raising a family. Eventually, she was offered the CA VP of Operations role, and found her work calling. A 12 hour day felt like 15 minutes. She also enrolled in the Executive MBA program at SDSU, and graduated as valedictorian of her class. It was from proving herself in this role that she was chosen for the CEO role.

Use The Power Of Free TimeWhile Jackie used to fill up her calendar, she now understands the power of free space to accomplish her goals. She prioritizes her time to ensure she leaves chunks of time open to focus. A friend once said CEO stands for Chief Enabling Officer. A CEO’s job is to remove barriers to success for her team. Jackie takes this to heart, not only for her team but for herself, strategically ensuring she has the resources she needs (like time).

Balance Is About Prioritization – Balance is impossible to achieve if looked at in the context of time. It’s easy to feel like one isn’t spending enough time at work, with your kids, or husband, etc, however Jackie finds a solution in measuring the result, not the quantity of time, and prioritizing accordingly. She realizes she won’t be home for dinner every night but she makes sure to take off for her son’s activities and to take all her vacation time. She is also lucky to have an extremely supportive husband who prioritizes her success.

Do Whatever It Takes – Willingness to do what it takes is a driver of success. Jackie thinks that what set her apart was her eagerness and drive to do whatever it took to get the job done. In 29 years, she doesn’t remember a time when she thought she didn’t want to do something and wasn’t fully focused on doing the best job possible, and acquiring tools she needed to complete the task.

Put Yourself Out There – Jackie thinks women can gain confidence by putting themselves out there, to lean in. She tries to be visible for her team and in the community to show other women it is possible. In addition, she’s taken on mentees, both casually and formally, mainly because they asked. She encourages women to continue trying and to keep learning. Confidence comes from a place of knowledge and self-understanding.