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Waxahachie, Texas – December 15, 2015 – Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s (SAGU) Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) chapter hosted former President of Chili’s and COO of Brinker International Todd Diener.

SAGU senior and PBL member Barbara Garza added, “I enjoyed the stories he shared about the company, what worked and what didn’t work, the decision making process and creating solutions.” She continued, “I learned a lot about how to lead an organization, the work ethic needed and skills to bring a team together.”

At the final PBL meeting of Fall 2015, Diener spoke about his experiences at Chili’s, both successes and failures. He shared his story of starting as a manager trainee and working his way up the ladder to become president. Diener shared inside stories of the decision making process he and his team went through with projects like ‘Chili’s too!’ and their frozen dinner line. “I am always thrilled to visit SAGU and speak to the PBL group about my career both past and current,” said Diener.

Diener gave advice to the business students attending on leadership. He shared, “Some of the leadership principles that I learned along the way from some of my mentors impacted not only my professional life, but also helped to shape the person I am today.”

He spoke on the importance of having a mentor to help you throughout your career. The best advice he ever received was to find a mentor, take risks, seek to understand before seeking to be understood, and to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. “I urge everyone to find a mentor (or 2!) that they trust and can count on to provide unvarnished feedback about how to be a better leader and person.”

Diener is a results-focused senior executive with extensive experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He spent 28 years at Chili’s/Brinker International (1981-2009) helping to grow a small restaurant chain of 13 locations in to an iconic restaurant brand with 1,496 locations across the U.S. and 28 countries around the globe.

In his role as President of Chili’s (1998-2003,05-09), Diener led all aspects of the brand including finance, P&L (profit & loss) responsibilities, marketing, operations, real estate, human resources, and franchising (domestic and international). Diener is recognized as having been the longest-serving President in the history of the brand and is credited with the brand’s ongoing success.

Diener later became the COO of Brinker International with oversight/leadership of the core brands for the company that includes Chili’s , Romano’s Macaroni Grill , Maggiano’s Little Italy , On the Border , and CornerBakery Cafe .

Today, Diener sits on four company boards as an active advisor and mentor to their management teams: Taco Mac Sports Grill (Atlanta) , Rosa Mexicano (New York) , Nairobi Java House (Nairobi, Kenya) , and Snappy Salads (Dallas) . He is also an Operating Partner with several private equity firms and performs due diligence projects for potential acquisitions.

Diener is also very active with and sits on the Dallas Board of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital .

The Future Business Leaders of America–Phi Beta Lambda is an American career and technical student non-profit organization who primarily help students transition to the business world. FBLA-PBL is the largest student-run organization in the United States of America, with 253,365 members, and one of the largest business-related organizations in the world. Local FBLA-PBL chapters are often connected to their school’s business education department, and most advisers are business education teachers. It is one of the top 10 organizations listed by the U.S. Department of Education.”

To learn more about SAGU’s PBL chapter click here .

About SAGU :
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at or by calling1-888-YES-SAGU.

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