All Joking Aside: The Tea on Taco Bell’s Spuds

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I’ve been asked to do a lot of things in my career, and I’m generally a good sport. But when my team recently asked me to appear on the Taco Bell social media channels in the form of a talking potato, you can understand why I might have paused to consider it.

Through my laughter, I gave the team a thumbs up.

In corporate culture, people can be intimidated to come forward with ideas that are disruptive or shake up the status quo… or in this case, might even allow people laugh along with a leader in your organization while they use a funny filter to announce some light-hearted news on behalf of your company. As leaders, we have to learn to embrace courageous creativity, trusting that the people we’ve chosen to drive our businesses are leaders themselves — that they know what’s going to resonate.

Let me take a step back for those of you who may not have followed Taco Bell “Potato-Gate.” Last year, COVID caused challenges that required us to simplify our menu to help reduce the time it takes to get each car through the drive-thru. The menu simplification helped us achieve our time-reduction goal, but the changes were tougher on our fans — and our team members — than we anticipated. So, in essence, our restaurant team members and our fans deserved a moment like this from us. A moment of levity.

That said, potatoes are coming back to our menu in participating locations beginning March 11! (Please be patient as we work to get them in most restaurants.) And if that wasn’t enough to celebrate, I hope our fans are excited by news of more unique, veggie-friendly* Taco Bell options as we team up with Beyond Meat to test our first U.S. foray into meat alternatives.

So, when your team comes to you with an idea to turn the CEO into a potato, just know it’s “baked” in a deep desire to create the best experience for your fans and employees alike. Challenging yourself to be open-minded and say “yes” when others would say “no, thanks,” will encourage the little voice inside them that asks, “What if…?” to keep going.

Until next time, keep pushing the boundaries and as my friend “Mark the Spud” would say, “Later, Taters!”

Also, my legal team wanted me to share the info below. I trust them, too.

* Taco Bell’s vegetarian items are certified by the American Vegetarian Association and are lacto-ovo, allowing for dairy and egg consumption. Preparation methods could lead to cross contact with meat.

CEO, Taco Bell

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