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John Kelly Challenges His Team With a Powerful Message

By Raj Prashad

Shortly after becoming the Chief Operating Officer of Arby’s, John Kelly was looking for an item — something that would help recognize and celebrate the good work of Arby’s team members, but also serve as a reminder to continuously strive to be better. John’s search resulted in the creation of a Challenge Coin, a revered tradition among the military and police communities.

The finished product — dubbed the Arby’s COO Challenge Coin — is made of metal and engraved with a constant challenge to team members: to be “Better Today Than You Were Yesterday.”

Those words, John’s favorite catchphrase, have served him well throughout his professional career. A 15-year veteran of Arby’s, he held a variety of roles before assuming the role as COO, first as an Area Supervisor and finally as a Senior Vice President of Operations for the East Region. He is now responsible for overseeing more than 1,000 company-owned restaurants, 2,200 franchised restaurants and a team of more than 200 operations professionals.

“Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. That’s why you have to make the most of every moment. That’s why you have to be better today than you were yesterday.” John Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, Arby’s

Since introducing the coins in February 2018, John has handed out just nine Challenge Coins. There are no guidelines or set of requirements that earn this recognition. Instead, John often relies on the element of surprise when presenting a coin to a team member.

“You don’t have to accomplish some kind of incredible feat,” John says. “You just have to find ways — no matter how small — to improve yourself, our business, and those around you.”

John Kelly COO Challenge Coin