Jillian Rocco is a Massachusetts native and a graduate of Boston University. She got her start in the restaurant industry as a hostess at Eastern Standard Restaurant. She has grown to Director of Operations at Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar. Driven by the desire to learn more about the wine collection at Eastern Standard, Jillian did the work to create herself a job as a wine connoisseur and General Manager at Row 34.
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.
“The higher the water the higher the boat”
“Get the ball down the field!”
“Find and make your own opportunities.”
“You are going to be most successful when you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and are willing to share with you!”
Career Challenge or Failure
Which “it factor” habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
Finding and making my own opportunities. And putting in the work and effort to learn and grow in that role.
What is your biggest weakness?
Giving people too many chances.
What is one piece of advice you have for leading others?
Teach people how to teach people. Meet with your team at least once a month to talk face to face and get feedback on how they are performing.
What’s one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
I like to ask people about someone that they have helped mentor or develop. I like to hear how they reflect on their team, and how they have contributed to that person’s success.
What’s a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
We are growing right now, which comes along with a number of challenges, and staffing is particularly challenging. Finding really great people to work at the growing restaurants is always a challenge. We regularly hold open interviews and have an employee referral program, where employees are rewarded.
What’s one thing (besides food) your restaurant does well and separates you from other restaurants?
We have been very good at being a part of the fabric of a neighborhood and adding value to that particular neighborhood.
What’s one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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“Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ” by Daniel Goleman
What’s one piece of technology you’ve adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
We just moved from OpenTable to Reserve, and it has been a great experience for guests and for us.
With all the knowledge you have now if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?
Be more confident and ask more questions! It’s good to reflect and try to understand things as much as possible.
What is one question you think should be added to this interview?
How does your vision change from year to year? Or how do you focus change from year to year?