Paul Bulau is a culinary entrepreneur, business founder, and company owner/operator. He is known for operational success, effective collaboration, and distinctive team development.
After earning a degree in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Paul conceptualized, planned, and launched his first restaurant, functioning as chef and sole proprietor. His Colorado-based food service company specialized in large outdoor events, catering, and concessions and grew to multiple locations before he sold and exited the profitable business chain.
For the past 25 years, Paul Bulau has worked in key roles with a premier, on-site restaurant company. Paul began his career in the kitchens there as an Executive Chef and quickly advanced to General and District Manager. His responsibilities have included contracts and client relationships, HR support, negotiation, and meal plan engineering. Now as Regional Vice President, Paul and his team work to strategically problem-solve and implement solutions for the premier portfolio of marquee clients.
Paul is passionate about delivering client solutions through hospitality, creating memorable experiences, and helping others achieve happiness and success. He enjoys supporting minority startups through Philadelphia’s Center for Culinary Enterprise.
Committed to health and wellness, Paul enjoys exercise, the outdoors, and exploring other cultures. Paul and his wife reside in Philadelphia and love hanging out with family at the Jersey Shore.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
I like to get up early– usually around 5-5:30 am. I use the start of the morning to relax with a cup of coffee (or two). Maybe a podcast, music, or local news in the background.
The rest of my morning is all about laying out the framework for my day. (Oh -depending on my schedule, I might get a workout prior to opening my calendar). But I do work on my calendar and script the day. My view is to focus on making sure I can be fully present with whatever task is on the agenda for the day. I think about stripping out any multi-tasking and trying to do too many things at once.
Being present in the moment and in the situation is something I have been working on for the last few years. That is no easy task through a busy day while getting a million things thrown at you. Communication is key.
Delegating tasks across the enterprise is important while following up with feedback and check-ins. It took me a long time to understand there is no shame in delegating. In fact, it improves our productivity and team morale!
I try to script that out before I leave for the office. It’s like an NFL coach scripting out the first fifteen plays of offense. This helps keep me in balance, on track, and present! From there, it becomes repetition and habit. I like how I feel productive and have also started this exercise on days off.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First – I listen to what my clients are looking for in their desired outcomes. I like to ask questions to get a clear understanding of what they are really looking for. It’s important to get laser-focused on what you want to bring to life. The bigger the idea, the longer it takes to manifest.
I like to think a bit on my own and lay out various pathways in my mind. Then I like to collaborate with my teams. I like to set the agenda and seek buy-in from my team. I’m not a fan of unnecessary meetings, and I encourage people to be creative and come back to the table with solutions. The collaboration is exciting – throw out what doesn’t work and keep what does.
Communication with your client is key- constant check-ins- be prepared for last-minute changes and calling audibles! Our clients’ collaboration ensures we are on track and on time. I have a good sense of people’s strengths and am good at leveraging those strengths individually and in a team setting.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend of uncertainty! I don’t want to say it excites me… but I am energized that we are in a time of uncertainty.
Today, I see great opportunities to create change and find solutions with our clients. In our world today, we have no idea what tomorrow brings when it comes to the future of social and economic outcomes.
How do you lay out a 5-year plan when you don’t have the information available to make decisions? Your decision tree needs to leverage what resources you can find and, at the same time, mitigate risk.
The time has never been better to partner up with your client(s) and find short-term and long-term solutions. It takes a solid partnership and a sound level of trust to get through this together. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to put skin in the game to demonstrate your commitment to your client. It becomes a win-win situation, and you have an opportunity to foster a lifetime client. That is what excites me.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Daily commitment to exercise. I always carve out time to work out, even if it’s 15 minutes of cardio in the morning and 15 minutes late at night on busy travel days. I feel like I have more energy, and my mind is clearer when I get a workout in.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient! I still struggle with patience. I have been working on being patient and, at the same time, being aggressive in all aspects of life.
My younger self thought I deserved the prize because I dove in head first and gave it everything. I have learned most outcomes of value take time! I’m getting better!
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
The New York Yankees are the best team in Baseball!
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Continuous education: Take classes, volunteer, research, do apprenticeships, work for free, etc. Anything you can do to keep learning and growing. I have a broad set of interests that I have taken a deep dive into. This has given me a diverse background to face challenges of all types.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
This is definitely a work in progress! I take a break and focus on the positive side of things. We allow our minds to get clouded with negativity and throw us off track. Get in a positive frame of mind and move forward.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Always study, practice, and understand the fundamentals of anything! Our society is filled with the need for immediate gratification and sensation. We have access to instant information through technology and our phones.
You can Google a topic and be an expert on something in a matter of seconds. Ask someone about that same topic in a month, and they will need to go to their phone and Google it again.
The fundamentals can be boring. However, they are building blocks and road maps for understanding and success. Fundamentals build an intrinsic level of knowledge within us, which we can draw on to think critically and solve problems.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I live by the thought that failure leads to success. So in that – I probably have failed at everything at one stage or another. The key point is to try again and find a different angle- if it doesn’t work, try another way. In this, you will find success. You are going to fail; we all do. Have the determination that it isn’t the end; you can always find a way, and most times, it’s best to get help!
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Just do it… whatever the idea is! We are blessed to be in a free market economy where there is the opportunity for everyone to manifest their idea into a business. There is a lot that goes into it, and it ain’t easy, but it can still be done. Find something you’re good at, surround yourself with the right support network, and work like hell! Be aggressive, be patient.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
I just finished Never Finished by David Goggins and started reading it again. Goggins captures how many untapped resources we all have within ourselves. But, he is one of the few who has taken it to the absolute extreme and done it- One who can inspire us through his action and not just preach about it.
I have been relating this mindset to my own struggles and life. He demonstrates it’s deeper than self-improvement – it’s about reaching deep into the darkest moments and finding yourself, and resetting your mindset.
- Embrace uncertainty as an opportunity for change and collaboration, building strong client partnerships.
- Effective communication and delegation enhance productivity and team morale.
- Start the day early, focusing on relaxation and preparation. Prioritize being fully present in tasks and avoid multitasking.
- Value fundamentals as building blocks for critical thinking and problem-solving.