Close this search box.
Close this search box.

CEO Of Torchy’s Tacos Offers 6 Strategies For Effective Leadership 

© AdobeStock
In this episode of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Torchy’s Tacos CEO GJ Hart distills 36 years of top-level restaurant business management and operations experience into six ground rules any leader can follow to raise the bar on expectations for themselves and their teams. 

GJ Hart grew up in a household of hard-working, immigrant parents who taught him about the importance of being able to take a risk to end up in a better place. Although he was good enough at basketball to attract interest from colleges, Hart eschewed college hoops for working his way through James Madison University, while sending much-needed checks home to support his family.

Hart’s work ethic and capacity for taking risks took him from hanging turkeys at a poultry farm to pay his way through college, to co-owning that same farm eight years later and a career in which he’s either been at, or near, the top of at some of the country’s most successful restaurant businesses. These include Texas Roadhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, where he’s introduced pizza chef certification to drive innovation and quality, and now Torchy’s.

“There’s a reason why it’s narrow at the top,” Hart said. “It takes courage to put yourself out there and put the organization out there, willing to go against the tide and do what it takes to define success and attain it.”

In this podcast, Hart shares six key strategies from his 2018 speech “Lessons in Leadership” delivered at his alma mater. Listeners are in for a treat as Hart explains why leaders should:

1. Challenge themselves to be better today than than were yesterday

2. Believe in big dreams so that they can inspire others to follow

3. Show passion for their work and compassion for those they lead

4. Create an environment where people feel valued and trusted

5. Make sure employees know they can count on a leaders even when they’ve messed up, and

6. Recognize their successes and encourage employees when they make mistakes.

A great listen for the toolkit. Don’t miss it!

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.