Using A ROCK to Grow Sales

Published on February 17, 2016

As a motivational speaker and sales leadership expert, I love to witness inspiring events that spark motivation and action. One such event occurred last week at the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) headquarters.  CPK’s CEO GJ Hart was hosting the Winter Meeting of the Chief Revenue Officer Mastermind Group (CRO), a group I facilitate, which consists of VPs and CEOs of high-growth companies looking to build high-performance sales cultures.

During the meeting, GJ motioned for me to come join him. We went into the hall where the entire HQ staff was standing to salute this quarter’s ROCK Award Winner. ROCK is CPK’s core philosophy that its employees live by—Respect, Opportunity, Communication, and Kindness.

CPK says its success begins with its people and makes a point to appreciate and recognize those who bring them wins everyday. Studies have shown that the number-one motivating factor for all employees, including sales people, is recognition. CPK has discovered that when that recognition is celebrated by the entire staff, it generates an energy that radiates out to the restaurants and positively impacts customer experiences. Growing sales is all about customer experiences.

The ROCK Award is peer-to-peer recognition. The award is passed on by the previous quarter’s ROCK winner, who in turn picks the next winner.

This quarter’s recipient is Tony Marciano, a Junior Network Admin. According to Andy Mai, CPK CIO, while Tony’s value is his tech experience, even more valuable is his personality and work ethic. Skills mean little if you cannot work well with people. It’s how you apply your knowledge that counts. Tony is known for doing whatever it takes to make things happen, and I can personally attest to that. It’s exactly what I observed as he assisted the CRO Group.

The ROCK award ceremony is powerful. First, in front of the entire HQ staff, they played a video of Tony’s fiancée (who could not attend) giving a heartfelt congratulatory message. Joining the employees watching the video was CEO GJ Hart (pictured in the top left corner below).

Following the fiancée’s message was an appearance by Tony’s parents, who were asked to say a few words.

The ceremony wrapped up with Tony’s boss (CIO Andy Mai) and others explaining why Tony deserved this award. To top it off, the recipient is always given presents representing their passions in life, which for Tony was whiskey and garlic. Of course all were invited to participate in a celebratory toast.


This ceremony takes place right in front of a giant ROCK that goes from floor to ceiling. On the ROCK are nameplates of the award’s recipients. Tony’s plate will be added to the ROCK shortly.

Congratulations to Tony Marciano on a job well done. Congratulations to CEO GJ Hart and his senior management team for creating an environment that brings out the best in people and celebrates their victories. It is this type of energy, invigoration, and motivation that is necessary to create customer experiences that help grow sales.

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