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Nick Vojnovic
President, Little Greek Fresh Grill
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For Nick Vojnovic, the saying “Life can turn on a dime” holds true. Diagnosed almost three years ago with a life-threatening illness, he fought tough odds and survived. That changed his outlook on everything.
 
The President of the Little Greek Fresh Grill restaurant company recently appeared on our podcast series, “Fast Casual Insider,” where he shared his thoughts on life and business. 
 
What do you see as the biggest disrupter in the industry?
I think you’ll hear from just about everyone that labor has become quite the issue. We’re fighting hard to find and hire quality, talented employees. Add to that the increases to the minimum wage on state and local levels. That has definitely thrown us a curveball. And, it’s possible that, going forward, we could see passage of federal legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Who knows what the ramifications of that would be?
 
What was your hardest management lesson early on?
One of my early mistakes was to hire people who were like me    very high energy and outgoing. We’d get along great and have a great time, but we wouldn’t get a lot of work done. I realized that when you are building teams, you have to hire people who are strong where you are weak. You have to be careful about who you bring on board and remember that every hire is critical. One bad apple could spoil the whole bunch.
 
Describe a life-altering moment or experience, one that had a huge impact on your outlook and approach to life.
A few years ago, I got diagnosed with Myelofibrosis, which is similar to Leukemia. The doctor said, ‘You have one year to live, but you could get a stem-cell transplant, though not everyone is a match.’ Well, there were 29 million people in the database and, luckily, one was a match, a wonderful girl, from Washington, D.C. There was one other thing: Only 60 percent of people who go through transplant make it. Today I tell people, look at your life, and appreciate your family and friends. Don’t get too worked up or let life bring you down. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was going to the hospital and hoping I would come out. That really changed my outlook.
 
To hear the entire episode, download Fast Casual Insider: Nick Vojnovic.