Craig Erlich

Stop assuming that your team has bought into the company mission. This assumption makes too many leaders overlook the critical step of motivating the team and asking for their commitment to the direction of the company.

The company mission is a driving force for the organization, and it's important to get everyone on board. This is particularly vital in times of rapid change and transformation. It can make all the the difference between success and failure.

I interviewed, Craig Erlich, President and CEO (and investor) of Friendly’s Restaurants as well as advisor to the board of BRIX Holdings where he previously served as the President and CEO. We discussed an essential strategy for motivating your team and getting their buy in for the company mission.

If you're not familiar with Friendly’s, it a restaurant chain founded in 1935 with a long history. Many know it for its burgers and milkshakes. Yum! They have 135 locations.

Craig's also held leadership roles with CVS, Jo-Ann’s, and KB Toys. He sits on the board of Easter Seals North Texas and has been affiliated with Easter Seals in one way or another for the past 15 years, including as former chairman of the NY board.

Craig's LinkedIn profile

Friendly's Restaurants website


  • The success secret he learned from his first job washing dishes.
  • The one thing every leader must start with to retain and engage their team.
  • His own turnaround-strategy playbook.
  • What makes leading the Friendly’s team so special.
  • The advice Craig gives to his leaders to accelerate their results.
  • Why he sometimes takes his family on business trips.
  • A powerful story of when someone was fired, and how it led to a 40% improvement.
  • Why Craig traveled to meet 90% of employees during a Pandemic.
  • The importance of communicating with employees in-person.


Twelve O’Clock High 

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon 


"Think like a rookie."

"Make sure that communication flows both up and down."

"Be here now."


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