Take responsibility – by Katie Rullo

My name is Katie Rullo, I joined H5H in 2004 as a cashier and was expected to simply say “hello” and “goodbye” on my first shift.  That was it.  During my 4 years in the restaurants, I worked at several Buffalo Wild Wing locations and worked on each position at one point, except Bartending.  I then decided to assist the H5H Office Manager, Karen, in 2009 as a part time administrative assistant.  Since then I have graduated college, married my husband, raised my step-daughter since she was 18 months (Tori – now 10), gave birth to two girls (Sofia – 3 and Furi – 2), earned my master’s degree and am having a baby boy this June!

High 5 Hospitality has played a major role in my life for over a decade now and the core values are imprinted into my daily life.  I have been tasked with writing about our second value: Take Responsibility.  This is something that has been ingrained in me since I was young.  This is my story and and how taking responsibility has helped me achieve my goals.

I grew up with two twin brothers who are 3 years older than me, a father that had a passion to operate a pizza shop and a mother that worked in the banking industry.  With my father working 7 days a week, us kids had a ton of responsibility to help our mom keep up with the household duties. By the time I was 10, my mother decided that she wanted to leave our home and start a new relationship.   So, Dad sold the pizza shop and got a 9-5 job so he could be home with us kids at night.  This is when I became the woman of the household, doing my best to keep things tidy and make sure we always had clean laundry.  I recall my Dad even teaching me how to pay the bills by writing out checks and balancing his books before I was even in High School.  We were a team and we did what we had to do to get all the tasks completed.  I was never afraid to take on responsibility and help out.  Slowly my brothers also decided to leave and move in with Mom.   Eventually, it was just Dad and me against the world.

Unfortunately, three days after my 15th birthday, my Dad had a catastrophic day and told me he quit his job and I would need to go live with my mom as well as he could not afford to support me.  Later that night, while I was watching Friends and eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, my Dad became extremely depressed and decided to set his bedroom on fire and chose to take his life. I’ll save all the details, but this situation caused me to take responsibility for the wrong reasons.  I took responsibility for not cheering him up or being more supportive when he told me he quit his job, or not checking on him while he was in his bedroom arguing with friends on the phone.  I took on responsibilities that did not belong to me and it became my dark cloud for many years.

The year my Dad passed, I decided to join a sports team and since I already had a friend that was on the softball team, it seemed like an easy decision.  I played second base and right field the first year  on the team.  That year our pitcher graduated and we would not have a pitcher for the following season so my boyfriend’s father signed me up for pitching camp and drove me to Silver Lake in Middletown for pitching camp that summer where I learned the fundamentals of pitching.  The following softball season, there would not have been a season for the Glasgow Softball Team if it had not been for me taking the time and dedication to learn how to fast pitch.  I played for the Glasgow Dragons and we hardly ever won a game, but the fact that we got to show up and play a full season meant more to the team than my pitching record.  At that year’s awards banquet, I was presented with the Dragon Award for my bubbly attitude and dedication to show up and grind through the horrible records of walking players round and round while I found my groove. (To be 100% honest, I walked so many people in our first game against AI Dupont that my coach literally ripped the pages out of the scorebook and crumpled it up and told the team it didn’t count.  We had Spring Break ahead of us and I was tasked with throwing at least 100 pitches three times a day to improve my strike percentage.  I put in the effort and I was immensely better after Spring Break.)

High School and college years were a bit of a chaotic time for me.  I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life while still trying to heal emotional scars.  At 17, I took on more responsibility by getting my own apartment with a fellow server, Megan Gallagher/Ziegler (yup, same chick that was mentioned at our Luncheon this year).  As a senior in high school, I was taking honors classes, maintaining A’s and B’s, playing softball, and working as much as I could to pay for my apartment.  I was always that girl that was working on Friday or Saturday night instead of at the most popular party.  I was focused on being responsible and earning that dough.  Don’t get me wrong, I had my whole school/sleep schedule worked out where I would show up to school by third period to attend English class which I needed to graduate and I would meet with my Calculus teacher during her free period to catch up on what I missed during 1st period.  It was a blessing when I was present in AP Calc, but also frustrating to my peers because I was still maintaining an A by keeping up with my work, just when it fit in my schedule.

While working my way through school, I didn’t know that H5H would be my long-term home.  I went to school for Interior Design, Teaching, Finance and then finally settled on Accounting as a staple degree to get me into an office position where I would be able to work 9 to 5 and have a family of my own.  When I joined H5H in 2004, I was drawn to Bobby’s leadership style and enjoyed working because Buffalo Wild Wings became my escape from my crazy home life. The longer I stayed, the better it felt to be a tenured employee and to be a part of something that was constantly growing.  Whenever I felt stale in my role, I would push on my leader and ask for opportunities.  I will never forget when I was thirsty to become a shift leader, I had a manager approach me and tell me that he wanted to teach me how to open, we wrote a schedule on a guest check, and presented it to Bobby (who was somehow the approver of that at the time.. Craziness I know) and obtained approval for me to become a key holder.  As I look back, I enjoyed starting at the bottom of each department, being that rookie that needs to learn the ropes, to becoming that WCT of each department and eventually landing where I am now, teaching other administrators how to support our stores.

Overall, I am a utility player that is never afraid to step into a new role and figure it out.  Sure I may stumble along the way, but I will take responsibility for my mistakes, I learn from them and I improve my performance the next time around. Since I joined the Office Team, or the newly refined Operational Support Team, I have held numerous roles that cover general administrative tasks, accounting, safety, human resources and more.  It’s the constant growth and development that has kept my drive alive for the past 13 years.  When I felt myself get stagnant, I didn’t look at my superiors, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked “what can I do to improve me?”, I went back to school and got my Master’s Degree.  Now I have skills and knowledge to share with my superiors and my peers.  I took responsibility for me and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the outcome.

I challenge everyone to take on more responsibility.  Even if it’s not your responsibility, if you recognize an opportunity, seek it!  The more responsibility you take on, the more value you will see in yourself and the more value others will see in you.