Architect of Change of the Week: Scott Wise

This week, we honor restaurateur Scott Wise as our Architect of Change of the Week. Scott is the founder of A Pots and Pans Production, the company behind the restaurants Scotty’s Brewhouse, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company and Scotty’s Dawghouse.

Scott is committed to hiring individuals with disabilities to work in all of his restaurants. It all started with a partnership with The Arc of Indiana and now Scott has expanded to working with organizations across all of his restaurants’ locations, with plans to continue to grow. His commitment to inclusion inspires Maria and her hope is that it will inspire you as well.

 1. How He’s Moving Humanity Forward: Individuals with disabilities make up 6% of Scott’s workforce and the plan is to grow that number substantially.  “When I was approached by The Arc of Indiana, they came to me with an original idea to open a restaurant, anchor it to this Marriott hotel, have a training center on the second floor, and make 25% of my employees mentally or physically challenged. Immediately, I said yes,” Scott said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but after I saw what an incredible impact it had on the public and the staff—not to mention how many individuals we were giving an opportunity—I said, ‘We’re doing this company-wide.'”

“It starts with finding the right hearts to work with,” Scott continued. “One of my favorite stories is about a kid at one of the restaurants who a manager was about to go after for using her phone at work. But, we found out that she was actually using it to train one of her coworkers who had trouble remembering things. She was taking pictures of tables and how they should be set up and giving the phone to this individual so they could remember. That’s the kind of thing that shows me how incredible this can be. People do care. We’re natural born people pleasers. I have all of these individuals that got behind this initiative, and I want to continue to ramp it up.”

2. Scott’s Life-Changing Event: Scott says growing up, he remembers those times when he felt different or wasn’t the first kid picked for the team. He never forgot that feeling, so when he obtained positions of leadership, it made him want to go out there and work with people who are a little different. Then in 2012, Scott contracted the brain infection viral encephalitis, which brought him close to death. That experience turned everything on its head and made Scott even more focused on using his work for good.

“It didn’t turn me into a new person; it just amplified everything,” he said. “It made me not so driven in business to just feel like I had to open more restaurants. I still have that motivation, but I’ve reached a point where I feel like I have succeeded in business. The brain infection made me self-examine and ask, ‘Are we doing enough?’ We always felt our mission was to do good in the world, but this amplified it.”

3. Why He’s Focused on “Tasks, Not Dollars”: “I want to leave the world with some kind of mark. In the early days I thought my goal was to open restaurants, but now it’s giving back to the world. This goes against the norm and it opens people’s eyes. Now, I have other companies contacting me wanting to do the same.”

4. The One Thing He Asks All of His Employees to Do: Scott created a vision card that all of his employees carry. It encourages them to complete the sentence “I will work in a way that makes my __ proud.”

“I work in a transient business,” Scott said. “My employees are not going to be there forever. So, while they’re with me, why can’t I try to be some kind of agent of change? I want to make an impact so that when they leave, they say ‘I remember working for this guy at this restaurant who wanted us all to do some kind of good.'”

5. “It’s Just How I’m Wired”: “I think this is what we should all be doing as human beings,” Scott said. “We’re losing this emotional sentiment in our bodies and losing our please’s and thank you’s. It’s just how I’m wired. I think it’s being a human and it’s doing what’s right.”

To learn more about Scott Wise and his restaurants, go here.

About the Author

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Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington is Shriver Media's digital director. She’d love to hear your ideas and feedback for the Architects of Change digital community! Connect with her here.

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