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I grew up reading my mom’s issues of Gourmet cover-to-cover. Forget the articles on travel and the fancy advertisements, for me it was all about the food.

Most of it seemed so exotic to my limited suburban experience. As an eight-year-old, I couldn’t imagine who would drink a different glass of wine with each course of a six-course meal. I mean, six courses? Really? (Many ‘adult’ behaviors are lost on an eight-year-old, but this was the kind of question that puzzled me no end).

I realize now that many of the reasons I enjoy working with food are the same factors that make a great business.

Make it Easy To Understand

This was what first captured my attention. “Waaaaiiiit… you’re telling me that if I follow these simple steps I can make something as awesome and delicious as that?!?!” Though I didn’t use words like “awesome” when I was eight, that’s about how I felt. A recipe that can fit on a 3 x 5 card has the power to soothe, to calm, to excite, and above all, to nourish.

Can your business do that?

Engage All The Senses

A good recipe will instruct you by sight smell touch sound… and taste. Anyone who has ever made gomasio or whipped egg whites into meringue knows this by heart. Next to simplicity, this opportunity for full-sensory stimulation captivated me. A good recipe asks that you be engaged on all levels at all times, since the experience is so much richer.

In business, this has never been more true than now, when discussions of “multichannel strategies” are everywhere. If you don’t continuously cultivate a rich experience for your customers, pretty soon they’ll head somewhere else.

Know Your Audience, But Never Be Afraid to Experiment

There was one recipe for Maple Cheesecake I’ll never forget. The recipe began “Serves 20,” though at the time it was just me, my sister, and my parents. Yet I was so curious I made it anyway, just to see what would happen. What happened is that everyone else politely tried one slice and then I got annoyed that they didn’t help me by eating more.

Don’t let this happen to you! In business we’re never “stuck” with just one audience, so don’t reach out to the wrong crowd with the right message. If I had to do it over, I would have created 24 mini-cheesecakes in two muffin tins, and frozen any that weren’t eaten in the first two days.

Your idea may be spectacular, but if your regular customers don’t think so, how will you pivot?

Never Stop Learning

I’ll read anything related to food. The ingredients are usually the same, but at every meal we have an opportunity to create something incredible. Three times a day! Don’t forsake your chance to learn something new.

How this relates to business… almost doesn’t merit a comment. See my take on engagement above. Your customers are always changing, your competition is always changing… why wait? Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places.

Give 100x More Than You Think You Can

I remember one article about a young Sushi Chef in Tokyo, a rising star. With a mixture of shock and reverence I read how he worked 18-hour days to stay on the cutting edge of innovation… before he fell asleep in his bathtub thinking of new flavor combinations… and then woke up four hours later to start it all over again.

Don’t give 110%. No matter how strong our competition, no matter how good we think we are, we all have a tendency to slow up just a touch as we near the finish line, when victory seems assured. In business there is no finish line. Consistently give 1000% of yourself on the right behaviors, and 0% of the wrong behaviors, and you’ll never lose again.

 

You knew this was coming, right? Lemon Meringue Pie is the perfect summery treat. Try something new, know your audience… enjoy.