Fundamentals: 9 Ways to Be Brilliant at the Basics of Business

fundamentals: 9 ways to be brilliant at the basics of business by  jim sullivan - book review

Interview by Don Billings, Publisher of ITM, with Jim Sullivan on his new book, “FUNDAMENTALS.”

In Jim’s latest book, “FUNDAMENTALS: 9 Ways to Be Brilliant at the New Basics of Business,” he describes best business practices, strategies and tactics in nine key areas ranging from selling, service and marketing, to training, team-building and execution.

ITM: This is not just a book on fundamentals; it actually gives managers an action plan and extended applications through your website, which you describe as a “deeper dive.” Can you give us a better understanding of how this works?

JS: Sure. We live in a short attention span-business world. When it comes to leadership content and business advice, some people just want a burger, others want a buffet. When you read “FUNDAMENTALS,” you get all the detailed basics on nine essential best practices. But if you’re hungry for more, our website has dozens of additional free tools, questionnaires and research related to each of the nine fundamentals that you can use to customize the content to your leadership style, brand or company.

ITM: Why did you bring “FUNDAMENTALS” to the marketplace at this point in time?

JS: If there was a time when being brilliant at the basics was really important, that time is called now. Given the beating that the food and beverage industry took in the last three years during the Great Recession, I noticed the companies and leaders that stayed successful despite the economy focused on the things they could control – like hiring, service, quality – and not the things they couldn’t control – like oil prices, government and world economies. I decided to identify the core essential practices these companies shared and put them in the “FUNDAMENTALS: 9 Ways to Be Brilliant at the New Basics” book.

ITM: Your book is a great management tool for all businesses, not just the hospitality industry. If you had to pin down the top three basics that most businesses and restaurants in our case get wrong or need serious help with, what would they be?

JS: 1)Make hiring THE most important decision. Compete first for talent, then for customers.
2) Teach your teams how to think instead of just telling them what to do. All service and selling is situational – there is no true definitive list of ‘right’ service steps. And never treat a customer better than you do a team member.
3) Make pre-shift meetings mandatory and not optional. They should be no longer than three minutes, have one focus, and both inform and educate the staff. If you don’t give your team a plan before each shift, they’ll naturally presume you don’t have one and substitute their own. You “do not” want this. Yet 90% of foodservice operations open every day without a plan and focus.

ITM: In your chapter on execution, I love how you broke it down into “The Execution Pyramid,” almost like Maslow’s theory of human needs. Can you briefly give our readers a synopsis?

JS: Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. I believe that the way you get consistent results is by first influencing employee beliefs, which shapes their behavior, which is what creates results. Most companies focus on results, which is putting the cart before the horse. They should be focusing instead on culture, accountability, discipline and habitual consistency.

ITM: Your closing chapter is called “THE END of the Beginning.” Can you wrap this statement up for us?

JS: Well, progress is never-ending, right? My thought is that if you apply the collective best practices in this 200-page book, you will truly transform not only the way you think about business but more importantly, the results you get from it. It’s time to stop working in our business and start working on it. School is never out for the pro.

ITM: I found “FUNDAMENTALS” to be an engaging practical resource and have purchased copies for our management team as required reading.

jim sullivan - book author - fundamentalsJim Sullivan is the CEO and founder of, a global consultancy whose products and services are used by Fortune 500 companies such as American Express, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Walt Disney Company. I have attached his QR Code and you can follow him on Twitter (@Sullivision), LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook. FUNDAMENTALS is available at Amazon,, and bookstores.