The Secret of my Success
The Goldstein’s secret formula to making a successfully good crust since 1944
An Interview with Managing Director Frank Goldstein, of Goldstein’s Bakery
Interviewed by Oliver Pfeiffer
For sixty years Goldstein’s has been a legendary pie-baking fixture on the Gold Coast. Enticing half a million customers annually, their bakeries are renowned for dishing up top quality multi-award winning food with a friendly face. Priding itself on being a family business that goes as far back as 1944, (when it was run by Julius and Paula Goldstein and known as the Busy Bee Cake Shop) Goldstein’s Bakery has evolved from its modest roots in the busy hub of Brisbane’s Roma Street to, upon relocating in 1957 to Surfers Paradise, becoming the largest independently owned bakery in South East Queensland.
Employing 150 staff across 18 bakeries city wide, second generation managing director Frank Goldstein reveals how being a good listener, maintaining passion for what you do, taking pride in your work, along with some good old-fashioned family values are some of the secrets of his four-decade success in the catering business.
What has been the best advice someone has ever given you?
I believe in never judging people by their looks. It doesn’t really matter how they look, the respect starts from when you start to listen. Everyone has a story to tell and everybody has a good side to them regardless of where they come from. We need to encourage that good side in them to enthuse them to go forward. Humanity is based on courtesy and giving people the benefit of the doubt. ‘If you give them a rope long enough they’ll hang themselves’ has always been one of my thoughts about where you are with people. People usually come to the top because they want to get ahead. Being a good listener is very important, as is giving people a helping hand and doing what your heart tells you to do – rather than measuring everything by other means; like how big your car may be or your house. We all get to those points in time and look back and think ‘how did I get there? Did I deserve this or did I deserve that?’ It’s a case of taking the best advantage of the situation you’re in. The truest saying I think you can say about people in work is that: ‘you’ll never get what you’re worth; you’ll only get what you negotiate.’
How important is having drive and passion to succeed?
Passion is very important; drive is something that I’m not so sure about. Drive can spoil your family relationships if you get too much of it and don’t watch your priorities carefully when it comes to your career, business or whatever it is. You’ve got to have enough time for your family. You can’t be working twelve hours a day and expect your family to just sit on the side until you have enough time to enjoy them. Our worst enemy is time and time is what we don’t have enough of. We all deserve to be the patriarchs and the matriarchs of our own family, and you need the time for them to be able to develop them so they appreciate you as much as you appreciate them.
Was a hard work ethos drummed into you early?
It became engrained. I started in the business as a twelve-year-old serving in the shop in Roma Street. I didn’t have much of a teenage freedom of life like most of my friends had. They’d be going out and I’d be going to work. I’d say that I have to go to work very early in the morning and they couldn’t understand how I could live a life like that.
Is being wary of your competitors important in the business that you’re in?
Everybody is your competitor in the food business and it’s the way you present yourself and the quality. I certainly drum it into my staff that I don’t want any product to be sold to customers with my name on it that isn’t of the highest standard. That’s very important and I always say to my staff ‘please give the customers the benefit of the doubt’. We’ve got customers out there who have been coming to our bakeries for 20, 30 or even 40 years, so you don’t know who they might be, therefore be courteous, be gracious and be proud of what you’re selling and ensure that your service is not wanting. We don’t want to compete with Woolworths – we just want to do the best of what we do ourselves and do really good coffee and drinks and very high quality pies.
What do you think is the biggest secret of your success?
There’s sometimes a feeling that you need to be ruthless in business to survive but I find that you can also kill with courtesy. Killing with kindness is a much more satisfying way to live your life. Help as many people as you can around you…I find that by helping people I’m helping myself because they talk nicely about you – even my competitors. If I’m out somewhere and something doesn’t look quite right I might make a suggestion to the boss. I’ve been in other bakeries where I’ve suggested they can make the pies a bit better if they did this and that. The more people that make a good product, the more people will buy and eat that product. A lot of people think I have this secret…but it’s just doing the best you can and making sure you surprise at doing the best you can.
You recently handed over the reins to your sons Martin and Joshua – do you still keep involved with some of the day-to-day running of things?
I’ve taken the company as far as I could, now it’s up to them to make the decisions and take it where they’d like to take it. I’m more of a mentor now. So that’s retirement for me: mentoring people and keeping them happy. I want to make sure our staff is doing jobs where they can get ahead and feel as though they have a reliable boss, who’s not going to be always looking at the bottom line to make sure he’s getting ahead. It’s about motivating our staff to use their best attitudes in their work and toward our customers to keep the business going ahead, on the basis that it’s a good friendly place to go in and shop.
Do you have any regrets at all?
Sometimes I fear that I didn’t do enough with my family when I could. I didn’t give my family as much time as I could have or should have, but I’m watching them grow up with their families now. I’m lucky that my sons have come into the business with me. Life is what it is and sometimes you have to accept the unexpected and things that you didn’t account for and taking them in your stride is important. I had a bypass when I was 44 in 1988 and I never thought I was going to come through that, but I did.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into your profession?
They’ve got to love the food business: tastes, flavours, presentation – the lot! They’ve got to appreciate having something that’s nice by always tasting things properly and knowing what the product feels like. I’d also say: make something a little bit different, be inventive, be satisfied by what you make that day. We’re always looking for new tastes. Look at how popular the TV food shows are – I think it’s developing fineness in people that makes them appreciate something a little bit better than just the ordinary. If you really appreciate nice food then you should compliment it back and let the chef know. People appreciate that and they take gratification out of it. If you want to praise in your own life, first of all, you’ve got to remember to give praise to other people.
Written by Oliver Pfeiffer
For Career Management Services, Oliver is a writer, Critic & Film Journalist
Member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
Australian Society of Authors (ASA)