The ChilisJobs team is kicking off our #ChilisWTL series by getting a look inside the life of our very own President, Kelli Valade. Kelli has two kids (Morgan and Christian), a pretty awesome husband (Don), a crazy golden doodle (Lucy), and a really busy career. How does she do it all? You’re about to find out.
5:30 AM: My husband, Don, is usually up and out the door by 5:00 AM. But, you’ll find me hitting the snooze button until the last possible second! I love my sleep and work hard to get seven to eight hours every night. Once I’m out of bed, I take a minute to check emails before getting ready for the day. Lucy, our crazy golden doodle, loves to get ready with me and usually wakes up as soon as my feet hit the floor. I love the way she follows me around each morning!
6:15 AM – 7:45 AM: It’s time to wake up my son, Christian, and make him breakfast! Lucy never forgets to remind me that she wants her breakfast, too. My daughter, Morgan, is in High School and has an extra hour to sleep in the mornings – so, we let her. Once breakfast is made, lunches are packed, and we’re ready for the day! Christian and I are out the door by 7:00 AM. By 7:45 AM, Christian is at school, and I’m on my way to the office. My commute takes an hour every morning, but I could never give up the quality time I get with my son.
8:00 AM – 8:30 AM: Upon arriving at work, I make a cup of green tea, read the morning RPM (sales and labor) reports, and review the day’s schedule. I love walking into my office each morning! It’s warm and inviting – not your traditional corporate office. I want people to feel welcome when they walk in. So, I have a farm table instead of a traditional office table and have filled the room with things that inspire me like books, family photos, and a memory book – a cherished gift I received from the Chili’s team!
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM: I usually spend my morning in meetings. Of the many people I talk with each week, I especially look forward to meeting with the Culinary Council. The leadership and culinary teams come together to decide on menu items for our restaurants – sometimes a year in advance! We get to try new recipes, give feedback, and talk with our Team Members and Guests to ensure we’re making the best choices for the brand.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: If I’m not visiting a Chili’s location for lunch, I’m most likely eating a prepared meal from Snap Kitchen – I have a refrigerator full of them! They’re healthy and easy to eat on-the-go.
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM: When I have time between afternoon meetings, I love to catch up with folks around the office. A lot of Team Members have white boards outside their desks, and they’ll write fun facts or activities they have planned. I love reading them as I walk through the halls – it helps me learn what’s going on and have conversations that have nothing to do with work. I learn something new about someone every day, and I love it!
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM: Before wrapping up the day around 5:30 or 6:00 PM, I make a few last phone calls and look over my notes from the day. Then I grab a few Post-its, hop in my car, and finish the day with a conference call. (Bluetooth is a god-send!) My drive home is easily filled 90% of the time, and I’m grateful for the extra hour to finish work. Once I finish my last call, I decompress – usually by blasting some music! I love Donna Summer and classic 70s hits.
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: By the time I get home, everyone has already eaten. I get comfortable, grab dinner (and sometimes a glass of wine!), and sit with Morgan, Christian, and Don to help with homework or just hangout. I love this time together because we get to talk and catch up. Once homework is done, I take turns with Morgan and Christian, and we go for a walk or run. This gives me personal time to catch up with each of them, and I get my steps in for the day which is how I squeeze in my WellBeing. Cardio and yoga are important to me and doing them with my kids is awesome!
8:30 PM – 9:30 PM: We like to watch a TV show as a family, and we usually turn on something like Gotham, Modern Family, or my new obsession, This Is Us. Then we all go upstairs and start to wind down. Even though my kids are 16 and 14, I still tuck in Morgan and Christian every night – it’s my favorite part of the day.
10:00 PM: I check emails and texts one last time and answer anything urgent. Then it’s time for bed! I usually put on Friends until I doze off. I don’t sleep with my phone in my bedroom – it charges in the kitchen while I get some undisturbed z’s.
Travel Days: Twice a month, I’m on the road visiting a market, checking out restaurants, and recognizing teams for the amazing work they’re doing. These days typically look a bit different because I’m at a Chili’s location Playing Restaurant! I help set up for the day, coach our teams, and, most importantly, talk to our ChiliHeads and Guests. I love when I have the opportunity to welcome and seat parties, bus tables, and take orders. I’m pretty good at selling our Margaritas! (But, in all honesty – they really sell themselves.)
I almost always host a Town Hall meeting or Women Taking the Lead session when I’m out in the field. I love connecting with our teams, getting their feedback, and engaging Team Members with our big-picture strategy. Spending time in our restaurants with ChiliHeads and Guests is one of my favorite things to do – it’s rewarding and inspires me to work harder when I’m back in the office.
Weekends: The weekends are for family time! You’ll find me in yoga pants and a hoodie while I’m running between yoga class and Morgan and Christian’s activities. We always eat dinner as a family on Sunday nights. I love to cook, and Italian dishes are my specialty! After dinner, we call a ‘Sunday Night Meeting’ to talk about the week ahead. We coordinate schedules and Morgan and Christian will tell us what they need help with – practices, games, lessons, and other activities. Don and I also use this time to ask our kids what’s on their minds. It’s a good way for us to listen to and support each other. Morgan and Christian are great at leading these meetings, and it prepares us all for the week ahead.
More fun facts about Kelli:
What inspires me: Seeing the good around us.
Last guilty pleasure: I was at a pizza party a couple of weeks ago and had four huge slices of pizza. And yes – it was amazing!
Last game I played: I play a trivia game with Christian on an App called Trivia Crack. Needless to say, he is winning.
Last time I said “I Love You”: Every day. At least 5-6 times to my kids.
Last time I danced: In the kitchen with Morgan and Christian! Have you ever tried doing the ‘The Dab’? It’s definitely entertaining!
Last time I cried: Last Tuesday during This Is Us. I cry during every single episode!