About Nick's UniversityAbout Nick’s University

Our Purpose: We inspire leaders to influence transformation in their organizations by providing life-changing leadership education.

Nick’s University Values

  • We treat everyone with dignity and respect.
  • We are dedicated to the learning, teaching, and ongoing development of each other.
  • We have fun while we work!
  • We provide a clean and safe environment for our guests and team members.
  • We honor individual passions, and creativity at work and at home.
  • We communicate openly, clearly and honestly.
  • We honor the relationships that connect our team, our guests and community.
  • We take pride in our commitment to provide quality service and a quality product.
  • We celebrate and reward accomplishments and “A+” players.
  • We support balance between home and work.
  • Health: We are a profitable and fiscally responsible company. We support the physical and emotional well-being of our guests and team members.
  • Our team works through support and cooperation.

Simply put, Nick’s University is our leadership training program. It began nearly 10 years ago as an internal process for training our team to become trainers and managers with the support of Rudy Miick. This work has evolved since it’s inception. We recently began sharing the life changing learning with the public and now have such an abundance of material that we’ve had to split the class has into three separate courses with hands-on, experiential learning challenging participants physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We’re about leadership, we’re about commitment, we’re about passion. You won’t find any school desks here – We dive in and dig deep.

About the Team

Nick Sarillo


Nick Sarillo is the founder of Nick’s U and Nick’s Pizza & Pub – the sixth busiest independent pizza company in per-store sales in the United States. Founded with the purpose of providing the community with an unforgettable place where families could relax and have fun, Nick’s Pizza & Pub has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant and boasts an 80 percent employee retention rate in an industry in which the average annual turnover is nearly 150 percent. Nick credits his company’s success to his purpose-driven culture, which is the focus of his new book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business (Portfolio; 2012). Nick is a regular speaker at entrepreneurship and HR conferences, and his insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Inc., Fast Company and Investor’s Business Daily.

Kelsey Smith, BA

Nick’s University Manager

Kelsey began her career at Nick’s Pizza & Pub as a server opening the Elgin restaurant in 2005. After she began to experience the culture firsthand she wanted to learn more. Shortly after becoming a trainer Kelsey began to work with our training department leading classes and orientation. In 2012 Kelsey’s husband joined the Army and she relocated to Texas. Fearful of loosing her job she developed the first ever remote position at Nick’s Pizza & Pub. Now years later Kelsey is back in IL after completing her bachelors degree in business leadership as the Nick’s University manager. Her passion for our culture shines through as she supports leaders and business owners to develop their own cultures.

Amy Gustafsson, BA

Head Coach of Culture

Amy Gustafsson, B.A., Lead Facilitator of Nick’s University, and Member of the leadership team at Nick’s Pizza & Pub- the Sixth busiest independent pizza company in per-store sales in the United States. Amy brings over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. She began her journey with Nick’s Pizza & Pub as the Director of Training and she has been a vital part of the growth and innovation of our training department. Her conscious communication tools shine through as she leads with a passion for the purpose driven culture we have created at Nick’s Pizza & Pub. She provides over ten years experience in hiring, training, coaching and leadership. Amy regularly leads Nick’s Pizza & Pub orientations, our Train the Trainer course, Hire and Interview On Purpose Class as well as co-leads our Trust-and-Track: Leadership On Purpose class.