Andy Shallal

“Being a leader is about bringing out the best in others.”

By Malaika Coleman

Background Information
Andy Shallal is an artist, activist, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and owner of the famous restaurant, bookstore, and performance venue known as Busboys and Poets. He also ran for mayor of the District of Columbia in the 2014 democratic primary elections. Busboys and Poets is known for its eccentric vibe and artistic collaborations within the restaurant that often express political and social views. Today, Busboys and Poets has 4 locations throughout the District, with a fifth in progress.

Our Experience
Upon arriving at Busboys and Poets we had some time to explore the library. It was filled with many genres of books, much of them focused on diversity and change. Then we began a very engaging conversation with Andy Shallal and we discussed what it means to be a leader. We discussed why it was important to stand for positive causes because others will follow. We took away that being a leader is about the betterment of a community or cause greater than yourself. We compared ourselves as a society to that of bees and ants. We admired how they all do their part for the good of others and in turn themselves.

The Big Idea
“Being a leader is about bringing out the best in others.” We came up with that big idea because during our discussion we realized that leading isn’t about being the only person in charge and making all the decisions. It’s about togetherness and making good decisions, even if they’re tough ones to make. It’s about benefiting as many people as possible in a positive way. That’s why we got “Being a leader is about bringing out the best in others” as our big idea from our visit to Busboys and Poets with Andy Shallal.

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