Meet Sean Hall
A Be A Better Human Story
What do martial arts and restaurant leadership have in common? Sean Hall – former Kung Fu instructor and current General Manager at First Watch Banyan Street in Naples. Over the last seven years, Sean has lived out his personal motto to “inspect what you expect” to recognize and celebrate moments both big and small within his restaurants and alongside his teams.
What first brought you to First Watch?
Originally, I saw an ad for the Estero location in Naples. It took three interviews to get the job, which I almost didn’t get because I needed Sundays and Mondays off for my kids. The team honestly took a chance on me. Not too long after that, they asked me if I wanted to get into the management program, but I wanted to learn from the ground up and see how the company and employees work together from behind-the-scenes, and I knew I couldn’t do that as a manager from the get-go. So, I started working as a cook. That was over 7 years ago.
When did you decide to enter the management program?
In this business, you have the tendency to jump around and work seasonally. I wanted a home for work. I wanted a place to work where I felt comfortable enough. Working for First Watch, I saw that they had the same values and philosophies as me. That’s when I tried to get into the management program – it took a little bit, but they eventually asked me to become an Operations Manager, which I did for two and a half years. I worked at various restaurants in the region as I was training to become a General Manager. At the time, there weren’t any openings in Ft. Myers, where I lived, which led me to the Banyan restaurant in Naples. I took that leap of faith and ever since, I’ve been there for four years so I think it’s worked out.
What can you say about your team?
This goes back to COVID-19, but everyone’s been extremely supportive. Especially during Hurricane Ian, when it was just me and another manager, the employees would come by and check on us. Before, during and after the storm, there was a lot of communication between team members. Even former employees who no longer work at our restaurant were asking how I was doing, because they knew I lived in Ft. Myers. It was definitely touching to hear from them.
What are you most proud of – at First Watch or in life?
There’s so much. My wife has supported me all through my journey at First Watch – we’ve been married for 22 years now. The kids have always been there, as well. They know I work crazy hours and, for the most part, they’ve been incredibly understanding. The silliness in the house is my favorite thing about my kids. We have a whiteboard on the fridge and, when we go to bed and wake up, there’s always all this wild stuff written on it. We take pictures of it to remember. Sometimes, there are love notes and other times, there are reminders about weird stuff. We do a lot of jokes, and it keeps us busy with so many laughs.
Everyone’s been extremely supportive. Especially during Hurricane Ian, when it was just me and another manager, the employees would come by and check on us. Before, during and after the storm, there was a lot of communication between team members. Even former employees who no longer work at our restaurant were asking how I was doing, because they knew I lived in Ft. Myers. It was definitely touching to hear from them.– Sean Hall
So you’ve served at First Watch for nearly 8 years…what’s been your favorite memory while working at the restaurant?
I’d have to say there are a few things I’ve done for the community that stands out to me. I’ve had people bring me a plaque and T-shirts as a thank you – it’s always nice to see appreciation in print! I still remember – it might have been my second birthday at our Banyan restaurant – I ended up with two cakes, which was very unexpected and unique. They sang “Happy Birthday” in the restaurant and brought me my favorite cake from Publix, Chocolate Ganache, though I’m still not sure how they knew. It was nice of them to go out of their way for me.
I hear you bring a unique perspective to your training. Can you share your secret?
I’ve done martial arts for most of my life, and I actually used to teach Kung Fu. When I was younger, I did some Karate, but in my early 20s, I found a unique style of Kung Fu, a royal family style. I had never seen something like that before, so naturally I practiced it for many years. To this day, I try to use and incorporate the lessons I learned when I’m training people in our restaurant. It’s fun and fulfilling to teach people new things.
When you’re not on the clock, what do you like to do for fun?
Outside of Kung Fu, I spent a year fixing up my car, but unfortunately, I lost it during Hurricane Ian. I just got the exact same model in a newer year, and I’m working on it now. When I’m not being a mechanic, I like to go kayaking and get the kids out with me when I can. I’ve tried to workout with my son, but his weightlifting skills are insane now.
What motivates you?
Honestly, I feel like I have a drive inside of me. I get up before my alarm clock and travel 40 miles every morning and afternoon for work. I’m determined to accomplishing things throughout my day. After all, getting up in the morning is just the start.
What piece of advice has stuck with you over the years?
One that stands out is so simple but meaningful to me: “Inspect what you expect.” To me, that’s always been a go-to principle to keep myself in check. My team expects things to get done, so I need to check myself first to make sure I’m actually doing it so they can be confident in their work, too.
What’s a place that is meaningful to you and why?
My family and I love going to Osaka Japanese Steakhouse, a hibachi and sushi restaurant, and then heading to Ft. Myers beach afterwards.
What’s a dream you hope to achieve?
I feel like I’m working on that now. I have a car that I’m fixing up, home that I’m repairing, and a job that I’m happy with. So, I feel pretty content with the direction I’m going.
Three words that describe me are…
I like to stay positive and optimistic, so I’d have to say humorous, enthusiastic and driven.
Want to join Sean in making days brighter?