Wednesday, August 12, 2009

551 Resumes

All the bad press, sour statistics and droning talking heads can best be summed up by the email I received the other day:

‘Dear Chef,

We met several years ago when you were working at X restaurant. Last year the company I worked for moved me to another restaurant. Things got very tough financially for the group and since I was last in, I was the first to go. I live in Boca, have a wife and two children and am a very hard worker. Can you help me find another job?

Lost in Boca’

You can talk statistics all you want; 14 million unemployed in the nation right now. But nothing brings it home quicker than a compelling story from someone you know in real need. The frightening thing is I get at least one email like this a week.

As my story has unfolded over the past year I’ve found myself in this very same scenario. Since my last full time position was eliminated a year ago July I’ve been right in the mix and discovered for myself how tough it is to land a job right now.

Someone told my ex wife of my predicament and she said, ‘Nothing to worry about, Adam is always working.’ It’s true, whenever I found myself out of work, for whatever reason, I was employed within three weeks – the ink on the Cobra plan hadn’t even dried. This time, it’s been a little different.

Emotionally these circumstances can take their toll, leading to questions about self worth, skills, abilities until one is left with a simmering doubt that will not be of any use in securing a job.

It’s imperative that one keeps they’re head up, shoulders squared and completely confident of their skills and the ability to execute at a high level or a prospective employer will sense the doubt, taste the bitterness or hear the frustration in the answers to their questions.

Get up in the morning, have a routine – any routine that gets you geared up, mentally clear and focused and grateful that another day has risen and opportunities exist out there, somewhere.. Be workman like, even if you’re working from home; dress appropriately, pack or plan a healthy lunch, take time for reflection and then get back out there!

During a recent interview I was asked, “So you’ve sent out 10 resumes a week for a year? Why do you think you haven’t been hired?”

A good question with many answers.

As with any recession and there have been at least 5 in recent memory, labor is always a lagging indicator. Business dries up first and then staff starts losing jobs. Once business comes back many operators will hold off hiring new staff until the last moment, hoping to recoup losses incurred on the way down; thus the lag in labor numbers.

In the news they’re quoting statistics now that the jobless rate went down last month – the first time that’s happened in over a year – but the real truth is that some of those folks have stopped looking; instead contracting their expenditures and relying on government programs to keep their lives together.

The Hospitality business is hurt more than most because we rely on the good fortune of others to fill our pockets; all across the board restaurants are suffering – special occasion, fine dining, resorts, fast casual – the only sector to hold their own is fast food because they have the resources to weather the storm and offer deeply discounted meals which appeal to the price conscious.

My best friend who is a chef at a 5 Diamond resort in the west has seen the organization lose 6 chefs in 12 outlets and none of have been replaced, none.

None of this however is news to any of us; for the most part we’ve witnessed it with our own eyes. In talking with Dave yesterday, the worry was clear on his face, ‘The street has really taken a pounding.’ He realizes that if he’s to survive he needs to aggressively alter his business model and offer a more competitive menu as well as tighten his staffing levels – ‘In the end, I still want to open.’

Some operators, sensing an opportunity, have drastically slashed salaries; having done so with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. Some have gone out of the box as far as their compensation plan offering wellness programs and housing in lieu of payment for a start up. To a professional who is at the beginning of their career with little or no financial obligations that may be a very rewarding way to go but with anyone with a car, house or child support payment it could prove to be a precarious place to start over.

Some have had such a huge response to their open position postings that they, quite rightly so, have decided to take their time during the hiring process – sorting through the candidates, interviewing up to four times, having mystery box cook offs, theoretical menu writing for a ‘sample’ restaurant, one has even asked that applicants send a YouTube type video so that they can get a sense of the candidates’ personalities as well as the ubiquitous Minnesota Multiphasic personality and IQ testing.

Recently I went on an interview where the respondent had had 551 resumes sent in, in the first week – 1,000 after 10 days. This brings up a great question – how can anyone review accurately 1,000, 500, even 200 resumes? The answer is, they can’t, after a while the eyes start to glaze over and the words start running together – ultimately the brain locks down in information overload. Resumes are, after all, just a bunch of words on a page – nothing more.

So what happens if you sent your resume in on day 2 of the posting and you’re now number 321? Any chance at all that your qualifications will be seriously reviewed or does it now begin to look like an exercise where the manager is looking for key words, code phrases, or lack there of?

Would a gap in employment in this economy speak to anyone’s capability or skill set? Probably not, yet most managers would quickly give that resume a pass.

So how does one go about being noticed?

Well let’s first talk about a strategy for finding fulfilling employment.

First and foremost consider your resume. Does it speak to your talents, strengths, passions and the asset that you could be to an organization? If not change it, there are some employment sites on the inter net now that will do resume critiques – they’re trying to sell their services but you can still get good feedback without having to pay for an overhaul. Right now be very careful about over stating your past positions. I was told by a prospective employer that I might consider ‘dumbing down’ my resume. I was shocked – after 20 years of earning my laces I was being told to tone it down. I didn’t know if I should have been offended or just depressed but he was right. In this economy employers will first be concerned about one’s longevity – it costs money to hire and train staff and no one wants a staff member to jump ship 2 months down the road once they get a better offer, no matter how convincing they are during the interview.

‘Owner’, ‘Partner’, etc. are all red flags to some employers – it can be very intimidating to some if they think that their crew knows more than they do – we know that that’s dinosaur thinking but we’re about finding a job and putting food on the table, first.

www.simplyhired.com is a great site that polls listing from other sites into one place; you can even set up a ‘search agent’ to scan listing and have the results emailed to you.

www.hospitalitycrossing.com is similar but is a fee based program that, from what I’ve heard, has some impressive results

Still and all this is just detail – a resume will not get you a job nor will endlessly sending resumes out get you to an interview.

It’s about your network! We in the business make fast and hard friendships with the people we work with but we’re the worst at keeping those friendships fresh and up to date. After all we’ve got businesses to be run and money to make and very often it comes down to putting your attention and intention on your present circumstances. SOS, Taste of the Nation and other events like it are great because it gives professionals an opportunity and an excuse to network and find out what’s been going on over the past year. But in this day and age we cannot be that complacent if we are to be successful in this field – it takes constant networking and being in service to other.

Unlock your rolodex and fire up your Outlook; it’s time to reconnect with some of your compatriots and brother sisters in arms. Touching base with them is a great first step; let them know your situation and make sure they have a copy of your updated resume. Very often if they don’t know of anything within their organization they may know someone who’s looking for help.

Very often savvy recruiters will send an email extolling the virtues of a position that they’re working on. Sometimes they’re fishing to see if you’re in the market for a conversation but in order to be politically correct the email will state, ‘If you know of someone who may fit our profile…’ What they’re really asking is if you’re interested but if a friend or old co worker gets a similar email and they have your resume on file, the chances of them playing matchmaker are very good.

www.linkedin.com is a great place to start, a ‘FaceBook’ for professionals if you will; post a profile and then ask co workers to write recommendations for you – there are also some great on line associations and groups to join and network. I include my own for a reference: http://www.linkedin.com/in/adamlamb

One of the very cool facets of this website is that it links to other job seeking websites and on a particular posting will have an ‘IN’ icon next to it; this usually means that the company or one of it’s employees in listed on Linked In and you can follow up on your resume submittal making reaching out to a current employee.

Upon hearing of a job opening at a restaurant I immediately started searching my memory to see if I knew someone on the inside. It turned out that someone I knew worked as a manager there and was able to give me some valuable insight about the operation and the players involved.

Ultimately one needs to get past the ‘gatekeepers’ of the position posting to make contact and start to establish a viable relationship with the person with the final say so or else you become just another name on a piece of paper.

Think outside the circle – when Matchbox 20 wanted to get signed by a record company they posted themselves in the lobby of the building where the record company was located for a couple of days and handed out free slices of pizza with their debut CD.

Once, with the help of an insider at the company I catered a business lunch for the CEO and his team of bankers as a way of introducing myself and marketing my skills.

www.squidoo.com is another great professional networking site.

All these are meant as jumping off spaces in order to get the word out to your network that you’re looking for a new opportunity – to a certain extent you can also use your FaceBook account to do the same. Always be professional in your networking and ask permission first before you send any information out – nothing is more annoying that an email blast to no one in particular; this is about establishing, cultivating and honoring professional relationships.

In every case always end the conversation, as my dear friend Clive Solomon would coach, ‘Do you know of anyone else that I could contact and would it be okay if I used your name in the introduction?’; polite and professional –always.

Professional Organizations and Charities are also excellent venues in order to connect with people in the know when times are tough. Search for, and join a one or two professional organizations that speak to you and attend meetings regardless whether you’re working or not. If you have extra time on your hands volunteering for a charity that you can be passionate about can have a powerful effect on your community in times of need and can be a great boost to your self esteem and ground you in the fact that you may be better off than your circumstances may permit you to believe and find a new job or opportunity in the process.

Lastly I want to talk about the greatest resource you never knew you had – your vendors. Vendors appreciate loyalty and if you’ve been doing business with someone for a long time and that relationship is something that you can count on, ask the question.

What’s happening on the street?

Have you heard of anyone opening a new restaurant?

Have you heard of anyone who might need someone?

They are your secret police, your CIA, in the trenches and in the know. They’ll help for several reasons. First it makes good business sense; if it’s an account they service, they’ll want to see a friendly face in the new position – if it’s an account that they don’t service, they may just get some new business. They make it their business to know what’s happening in the street and if you haven’t asked them then you’re ignoring a great resource.

I recently went on an interview; I had submitted my resume and written a great cover letter. Then the manager received my resume from a vendor, he asked only one question – ‘Is this a guy I should be talking to?’ Brendan said, ‘Yes.’ When I asked the manager whether he would have called me without the vendor recommendation he shook his head slightly and said, ‘I, I don’t know’. But here I was and I had a shot.

Nuff said.

Thanks Brendan for your belief in me when I had little and your support when I needed it the most just because you care.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooking for Fun and Profit

Last week I was able to get past the gatekeeper at a local, high profile seafood restaurant for an interview. My long standing relationship with a vendor paid off when he gave me a call about an open chef position at the restaurant and agreed to forward my resume to the General Manager. As it turned out I had worked with one of the front of the house managers in a previous life and was taken aback when I called her expressing interest about the vacancy.
'It didn't even occur to me that you might be interested in the job' she exclaimed.
By the time I had gotten to the interview the GM had two glowing references before I had said a word. The interview progressed with a comfort level usually reserved for a long standing friendship rather than a potential employee and suddenly I watched the stars align as he asked me to come back on Friday and cook for the owner.
He confided to me that they had received 551 resumes and I hadn't even seen the posting. He had gone through about 125 before his eyes started to glaze over and he realized that words on a piece of paper do a poor job at representing someone, no matter how well it's written.
I heaved a sigh of relief. His experience showed me, all too clearly, how hard it is out there right now for anyone looking for work by just submitting resumes and going through the usual process, regardless of how diligent they are.
Gotta get past the gatekeeper somehow.
Friday morning I woke up, wrote in my gratitude journal and opened the book I have been reading, 'Change your Thoughts, Change your Life' by Dr Wayne Dyer based upon his interpretation of the Tao - the oldest book of wisdom ever written.
I read Verse Three:

'Putting a value on status
will create contentiousness
If you overvalue possessions
people begin to steal
By not displaying what is desirable, you will
cause the people's hearts to remain undisturbed

The sage governs
by emptying minds and hearts
by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones
Practice not doing....
When action is pure and selfless
everything settles into its own perfect place'

I laughed out loud, got dressed and focused on 'not doing'. When I got into the kitchen I took a deep breath, got centered and imagined 'everything settling into its own perfect place'. In an hour I had knocked out a couple of portions of Shrimp & Grits with a Watercress Salad and Chive Au Buerre, Sauteed Sea Bass with Grilled Asparagus and Garlic Mashed Potato with a Citrus Relish and finished the presentation with Yucca Crusted Grouper with Sweet Potato Hash and a Roasted Corn Sauce and laughed the whole time knowing that no matter how things played out after the tasting - for the moment, everything was perfect and in it's place.
And so was I.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Science of Hospitality

I've completed my first ebook called, The Science of Hospitality. For a month, I'm giving away a free copy to anyone who requests it simply be emailing me at cheflam@aol.com. Put the word 'Science' in the subject line and I'll get a copy to you right away with the request that, after reading, you send me your feedback so I can continue to make these ebooks something of real value for my readers.
Be A River!

Setbacks as Oppotunties

In my last post I waxed ecstatic about going to work at a small Italian restaurant in Boca. It was in the midst of a ownership change and I got involved through a friend of a friend. Because of the way I came to the job I didn't do my usual due diligence and it became a hand shake agreement. There was initially a little conflict in exactly who was going to be in charge of what but I figured everything would work itself out.
After the first week of working with the old chef cracks starting appearing in the organization; I took one person's word for how and how much I was getting paid even though someone else would be in charge of cutting the check and as the ownership change hadn't gone through yet I was left wondering how this was all going to get taken care of.
The next week the old chef started to balk at showing me all the recipes since the deal hadn't gone through; old school mentality - no money, no recipes.
I cleared all this with the money guy and he implored me to keep showing up and that he would 'take care of me'. Needless to say my check wasn't there on Friday as previously stated and I figured I would give it one more week.
The deal still hadn't gone through and the chef now wouldn't even let me suit up, so I cleared with the folks in charge and they told me to. 'take a job till the details get ironed out'; as if they're so easy to come by.
It's been a month and I still haven't been paid. I would make calls everyday and get more and more frustrated; my bank account now was upside down and the friend of a friend now pleaded ignorance.
How in the world could I have put myself in this position, I asked myself. The negativity of my situation was starting to color my outlook and even, heaven forbid, my self esteem.
My emotions scrambled, I decided to take the long view and wrote the following for ITB mangazine; I hope that this will serve anyone in this time of uncertainty to see that, even when things don't always go the way that we imagine there's still something to be gained:

Gratitude
Last month we went over the importance of energy as it relates to how our minds’ attitude affects our feelings which resonates with a particular pitch of energy – in many ways we don’t get what we deserve but rather we draw to ourselves what we most resonate with; what we resist persists.
We also went over how, given everything being equal between two operators, chefs or servers, the one that works at finding the best in the most daunting situations will be the one that will be successful regardless of money, talent or effort.
In his landmark book, ‘Power Versus Force’ Dr David Hawkins was able to calculate a hierarchy of emotions based on the science of kinesiology. Rage and Anger were towards the bottom of the list, he and his team were able to show scientifically how those types of emotions actually makes one weaker. Acceptance was the middle or neutral emotion with Gratitude being at the top of the list of emotions and the one that makes one emotionally and physically stronger; even above that of Love or Happiness.
It turns out that an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ is the emotional state that resonates or vibrates the highest amongst all possible states. If what we resists, persists then we set up an energy field around us that continues to reinforce the way we feel and can only bring us more of the same; that’s why constantly stating and feeling like something is missing or incomplete will only result in more of the same.
On the recommendation of a friend I took a handshake deal to work in a small restaurant in Boca that was undergoing an ownership change. I went three weeks without getting paid before I thought that I should stand for myself, friend of a friend or not.
Turns out that I’ve been chasing the principal in the deal for a month to get paid; calling sometimes three times a day, cajoling, pleading, shaming – I was ready to try anything to get paid. First came the promise of the wire transfer, then the FEDEX package, then – well, you get the picture.
The worst part of it was that I was starting to lose myself in the chase, not only was my bank account upside down but emotionally I started to feel like a fool, a failure or at the least a dummy for having allowed myself to get in this position. Every day I would start fresh, feel confident and by mid afternoon I’d feel mad, sad, taken, used, abused and a total sap for being so trusting in the first place.
Emotionally this started to affect all my relationships and before long I sounded like a broken record; one I didn’t even want to listen to anymore.
I had forgotten one very important thing – how Grateful I was for this experience.
I was suddenly and irreversibly thankful for this man for all the things that I had learned because of him; things which I couldn’t have learned any other way in such a way as I’ll never forget, nor in some cases one’s I never had the stones to ask: Who’s in charge, really? Where’s the money coming from? How well are they funded? Always have a written agreement, always be clear on the terms and you only have one chance to make the deal so strike the best one you can; one can never, ever go back.
No matter how bad things are, there are always reasons to be grateful – our health, our integrity, our families, our reputations and our possibilities. Even though I haven’t seen any money, it no longer matters so much to me because I ended up getting something much more valuable – wisdom earned.
My Attitude of Gratitude will inevitably bring me my perfect job, which I see as clearly as day and all the abundance I can imagine because, in my heart, mind and soul, it’s already mine and for that, I’m grateful.
Next Month; The Success Paradigm

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Defense of Chefs

~from dinnerreviews.com~
A couple of weeks ago I took a sabbatical of sorts from my consulting work and writing to get back in touch with something I had lost; my love for cooking – my passion to be in service to others.
As such things go, a friend of a friend makes a phone call and I find myself in a small, intimate Italian restaurant in Boca. The names have been changed but it’s something like, ‘Alfredo’s Tuscan Grill’; the kind of restaurant that we’re all familiar with, white table clothes, informed waiters, an expressive wine list and a sound, grounded Southern Italian menu. It turns out that the owner, the chef, after being in the same location for 25 years had decided to retire to his importing business and to spend more time with his family. The only person he felt comfortable selling to was his nephew.
I was brought in to learn from Chef Alfredo; mimic his techniques, taste profile and cooking methodology – the thought being that the established and loyal clientele would crave Chef’s food even when he’s gone – it’s ‘Alfredo’s Tuscan Grill’ after all.
I spent a few weeks shadowing him while the details of the sale worked it’s way through the legal and financial morass that’s killed many a deal. I silently took mental notes on a spoon full of spice here a dash of aromatics there – no recipes written down of course. I strained past chef’s shoulders to watch him make Tiramisu and Ricotta Cheesecake; Filleto Pomodoro, Sauce Ragu and how he built a sauce Sorrentina in a pan at the last minute.
All these things I memorized till I felt I was ready to take control and run a shift on my own.
I had everything down except for one thing, I was not Chef Alfredo and that’s who the guests were coming to see.
I had recognized the European business model early on in my training; it’s something that we American’s have either forgotten or overlooked.
In my own experience in restaurants in Paris, Bern and Locarno Switzerland, The Black Forest in Germany and throughout England I saw first hand how the Chef ran the show. The Chef was there at the front door to welcome his guests, to cajole and joke amicably with his friends, to suggest new menu preparations or to hint at hidden gems in the kitchen not available to all. If there were front of the house managers or General Managers, they all deferred to the Chef as being the resident expert and the true reason that guests came.
Chef Alfredo worked in the same manner, showering his guests with attention, shouting into the kitchen to his assistant, with a knowing wink, to use the freshest mussels for table 5; hurriedly running into the kitchen, with a flash of hands over a pan personally perfecting a dish for table 8 - all the while choreographing the movement of the staff, the tempo of the dining experience, the lighting, the music and the final rounds of Lemoncello.
That’s the European way; something that we in America have held at bay, preferring consistent chains, cookie cutter food, systems, efficiency and profit over passion, daring, family, closing for a month in the summer to give everyone the same holiday off and the feeling of inclusion.
Somehow I think we could use a little more of later and a little less of the former; for guests and for staff.
The thing that Chef Alfredo, I and the legions of our brothers and sisters in arms who are connected to the sanctity of our chosen craft offer is not food nor ambiance but relationship; a connection to something bigger than us, a family, a home away from home.

In these days of contracting economies and declining checkbook balances there’s something to be said for a place where the chef knows your name, where he greets you at the door and whisks you off to your table; where you feel doted on and included in the mystery of food, libation and good friends.
There’s a large, affluent family of contractors from Philadelphia that come into Chef Alfredo’s once a week; one side of the family one week, the other side the next week. As they walk in the door, depending on which side of the family it is, the staff starts to buzz and orders are being fired because, without fail, they order the same appetizers every time to start. It’s as if coming to this restaurant, sitting around their table is a ritual of welcoming, of coming together, of embracing once another after a hard week out in the world. Chef Alfredo provides this family with the opportunity to come together, once again, to savor something familiar in a world of constant change and to let them get back to what’s truly important – each other.

If you only could only afford to go out once a month wouldn’t you choose a place, and an experience that goes beyond eating and epitomizes the best attributes of dining?

I’m not Chef Alfredo, nor will I ever pretend to be, but what I’ll be there, at the front door, welcoming you in, grateful for your presence and quietly telling you about all wonderful dishes I have in mind, only for you. There’s nothing finer than taking a group of your friends to a little out of the way place just because, ‘The chef is a personal friend of mine’.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Contrast as Clarity

Everyone needs to make a living, not everyone needs to ‘work’. I believe that too many of us have allowed the fear of financial security, or the lack of it, to swallow us up whole and allow our circumstance to completely consume us; forgetting that work, or the pursuit of it, is a poor substitute for actually living our lives, connected to our families, our creative spirit and our communities.
At least I was.
Last month I wrote about the strange way life seems to work and the possibilities we find ourselves in if we allow them in to our lives. It looked like I had found a job that would challenge me intellectually and stimulate my passion. It would mean that I would be slightly outside my comfort zone and precipitate a steep learning curve. I believed in all of it.
Alas things didn’t work out the way I imagined. It wasn’t for a lack of trying; I put forth a mountain of effort everyday. The concept was solid, brilliant minds were in play, the future looked limitless. Yet something was nagging me in the pit of my stomach and I chose to ignore it; everyone needs to earn after all.
But in the last couple of months I had forgotten something fundamental, lost something quite important and it eluded me for many nights until one morning I went down to the beach, sat and watched the waves come in.
Then I remembered.
Twenty five years ago, as a hopelessly romantic teenager and half hearted dish washer, I watched two women work the kitchen in a restaurant. A local 24 hour joint called ‘The Big Wheel’ on Indianapolis Blvd in Hammond Ind. It was a Saturday night and the ticket wheel was full and spinning, guests jawing with one another about the days events; the stalwart gals behind the counter cracking jokes with the regulars and making them feel right at home.
Back in the kitchen, Artellia White and her compatriot moved together, assembling orders, wide grins on their faces; silently engaged in what I would come to call, ‘The Dream of the Dance’ – a perfectly orchestrated symphony of movement, smells and action.
It was at that very spot in time, in that very place where I said to myself, ‘I don’t know what that is, but I want me some!’ and set out on my course to become a great chef.
In the intervening years I was reminded of what Lori Walker, a sous chef of mine once told me, ‘Adam you weren’t a very good cook when I first met you but you have become an excellent chef.’ If you know Lori and have had the profound blessing to work with her, you’d know what tall praise that is.
I came to realize during this last work experience that I like being called ‘Chef’, I like the preparation, I like the music of the ticket machine during service and I love bangin pans.
It’s what I got into this business for and I owe a debt of thanks to Artellia White, Lori Walker and the legions of co workers, artisans and professionals who have helped to hone me into who I am today.
I had forgotten all about that, but I remembered.
As soon as I did, a position was offered, accepted and I am now joyfully back to cooking – back to my joy; all else in irrelevant.
Find out what gives you joy, celebrate it, do it – every day, stay with it – be consistent; all else follows, money, position, respect.
Coming from your heart is the only way to earn a living, everything else is just work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Realization of a life lived

In writing the last post, which I neglected to spell check - my apologies, I came upon 3 insights:

1.) The hijacking of the 'Aha Moment' by an insurance company for an ad line is insidiously clever but I'm thankful for anything that celebrates those mysterious, magical moments in our lives - we should be singing those songs more often

2.) In the past 8 months, whenever I thought that I was at the end of my rope with only a long way to drop, something or someone was there to mitigate the damage and support me in my adventure - a timely check wired to my account, a reconnection to an old and treasured friend, the blooming of a new one - a band rehearsal that went great and filled my heart with glee, my daughter's unfettered smile; everything has been falling into place albeit not what I may have imagined or prayed for but always and ever there has been an 'event' that has shown me how textured my life is, how rich and quite luxurious, although not in the classical sense - but MY GOD, how grateful I am for all of it and how thankful I am for all of you.

3.) Expectations can be a tricky thing, in business or personal life; I went on this past interview for a position that I'm overqualified for and end up getting a position that will require me to learn and puts me right to my 'edge', my comfort zone and causes me to stop, consider myself as a professional and man and encourages me to 'lean into my edge' as a means to push past any self limiting beliefs and opens up a whole new world to me.
Who would have thought all that would come from such as simple exercise as going on an interview AND, the more I learn about the company, it's founders, it's culture and mission I run up against my OWN beliefs again and again; I don't want to tell tales out of school but this may be, may be the perfect place for me to be right here, right now.

Hope springs eternal for me every moment that I take a breath - now I get to take action to make my beliefs a living breathing part of my life instead of some intellectual exercise in semantics.

All My Best to All of You!

Just When You Thought All Was Lost, Here Comes Life

Stop the depression, cease and desist with the negative thoughts, discontinue the discomfort; halt the procrastination!
“This just in – Optimism Is Possible…..”

Last July I lost my last full time gig – this was at the beginning of the downturn before everything got really hairy – before anyone knew how bad things could really get. I had been working with a small start up with big plans and ambitions and I, as the Corporate Chef was working on things way outside my comfort level and skill set but I was learning things about building a business from the ground up that I knew, in my heart of hearts, that would pay off huge in the future – financial plans, construction project management, preopening critical paths; all that really fun stuff.
I had the feeling that something was coming my way although I hoped that things would work themselves out. I saved a bit, held out for a decent severance package and set up a few leads for consulting work should the bottom drop out.
And, drop out it did. Even though my intuition was telling me to be prepared it still came as quite a shock to me when the conversation finally came, you know how they go, ‘No hard feelings, you’ve done an excellent job, just a matter of economics…’. No matter how they framed it, it still meant that I was outside looking in.
Having planned a bit, I scheduled a long overdue back surgery; the rationalization being that I needed all my strength for the next chapter of my adventure.
For the first time in my life I filed for unemployment; no pride involved – I had paid in, I deserved the cash.
I worked my network, reaching out to past associates and co workers, polished up my Linked In profile, got on FaceBook, started my own blog – anything to work the process.
I figured that the energy I was expending would return ten fold when the perfect job I had envisioned, meditated on and wrote about would surely come.
I sent out 6 resumes a week, sure that my crafty cover letters would woo some hard hearted Human Resources Director to my cause; I could be an valued asset to their organization after all – couldn’t they see that?
My smiles became more strained, my posts in my gratitude journal started to sound more like pleas and I slowly realized that I had become very bitter over my past dismissal.
Very bitter, and with that the depression hit me in the head like an empty Tequila bottle after eating the worm. The depression lay there simmering under the surface mixing with my bitterness until it became a lethal brew, enough to knock any wise ass to his knees; and there I remained, prostrate wondering at once how the hell I had gotten here, and where, o where, would I end up?
And that’s when I woke up from my fog and got back up on my feet. I straightened my shoulders and raised my head up because I knew that no one, no one was going to make this work except for me and the first step was to let it go; release and allow, change my stinkin’ thinkin’ and get myself out there.
The minute, I mean literally the moment when I let go of my feelings of bitterness over my last job and my desperation over my present predicament I got a call. I went on an interview for a Kitchen Manager position, under my pay grade but who was I to turn my nose up at a decent day’s work.
My can do attitude, that attitude of gratitude came shining through me and was told that instead of the KM position they wanted to offer me the GM position.
I already had more than most to be grateful for, a roof over my head, my body was healing nicely, my children were healthy – my word, what did I have to complain or worry about? Can’t seem to remember right now………
GM, well hell yes; praise God and pass the ammunition; time to roll up my sleeves and starting hittin’ it hard – tall and frosty, here I come.
Now, I ask you – what came first, the chicken or the egg?
What are you capable of with a heart full of gratitude and a head full of optimism?
Hold True my very dear friends -any of you who may be experiencing difficultes at this time - Hold True, night always passes into the light of a brand new day and who knows what thay may bring....

Monday, March 23, 2009

silver clouds - platinum linings

Here in Florida, now that the days are slightly longer, about an hour before sunset, the light reflecting off of the towering clouds shine silver and serves to remind me that although things may be looking dim in the news nowadays I firmly believe that these economic times will turn out to be, in retrospect, the greatest time of opportunity that I'll likely see in my life time.
For someone, or some group, with the courage of their convictions, with the tenacity of their expectations, with the drive of a dream that only they can see - this is indeed an auspicious time. There are deals to be made, bargains to be found and partnerships to be established that now, while it's the right time - the time right before the right time, that will reap huge benefits for those involved and those affected, influenced, led and illuminated by the subsequent bold action, massive intent and consistent movement forward.
I have no evidence of this: no reliable data, no quantifiable detail, spreadsheets, exit polls nor experts to extol the virtue of my wisdom yet there is something insistently nagging me here, deep inside my heart and mind that urges me to believe that it is so - some innate cellular memory of difficult times mastered that reminds me that all one really has to do is see these times for what they are and not merely what they look like:
The chance of a lifetime.
I, for one, am going back to my business plan, tighten up my numbers, equate a reasonable balance between profit and life for all involved in the project and talk to everyone that'll listen to me to take this adventure with me; with all of you.
To that end I'm going to start an on line blog/diary/journal that will serve as a report, of sorts to those that might take a similar step and a how to guide that might serve to save others from whatever hiccups I might experience along the way called 'The Red Wing Coop Kitchen Project' ; I'll post a link when it's formatted.
I'm going to come up with a completely compelling reason why people will come and be in relationship with me and share some of their hard earned money with me as customers and why, oh why, some will make the decision to trust me, my experience, skill, good humor and insight and to entrust in me some of their money in partnership with me in joy.
All of this just feels too big to keep all to myself, so don't be surprised if I call you soon and ask you to be a part of what I'm about to create; something that will work for everyone and something that will embody what foodwerks inc, and I stand for - at the core, "Making lives more meaningful, one dish at a time."
Oh, what a time to be alive, to take a chance, to look beyond the clouds to the platinum linings just beyond our view - but that are there nonetheless.
Blessings

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do Your Best




Dear Readers

Sorry it's been a while since I've last written but I've been focused on doing my best, in the moment, every day - and I'm very glad to be back.

A couple of weeks ago I had an unfortunate experience. While in the Bahamas, I was hurriedly walking down a flight of stairs and twisted my ankle severely. It could have been the 3 black russians I had in me or the fact that I was in a slightly wet bathing suit getting back to the hot tub before lights out.

In any regard, when I twisted my ankle I fell down the last flight of stairs and ended up fracturing my fibula, the smaller bone in the lower leg, when I impacted the stair edge with my leg, trying vainly to protect my head.

After a few xrays, and about $1000 dollars in CC preauthorizations, I was given good news - I would not need a cast and, in fractures such as these, the prognosis was a lot of ice and elevation.

I joked with the xray tech - 'They say to take lot's of pictures on holiday but I don't think they meant these kinds...' I tried to make light of it all but in reality I was scared that I might need surgery in order to repair the break.

I was referred to the local private hospital, "Doctor's" and was immediately put at rest by the attending physic an who not only looked after my physical aliments but took great pains to make sure that my emotional health needs were met as well - laughing and joking with me.


Side note: this has now been twice I've visited hospitals in Nassau and I can say that the quality of care in each case surpassed any experience in a US hospital; might have been the phenytenol that they gave me to calm me a bit but the staff seemed more genuinely caring instead of detached as some of our highly trained and world regarded medical staff can be in this country.


I had been on a roll previous to the accident and felt great. Now with a busted leg, egg on my face and the prospect of yet another period of healing (I had a lamenectomy fusion from L3 - S1 back in October of last year - if you have to ask then consider yourself lucky - that took me 5 months of carefully scrutinized healing to get back into shape), needless to say I was a bit depressed.

On the flight home I was confined to a wheel chair and let me tell you by the time I got home to my own bed I had become furious at how the disabled are treated; I had to look myself in the mirror when I got home and challenge whatever beliefs I had held about the handicapped or merely hobbled and found myself sadly lacking any real knowledge nor any previous desire to know until I got to experience myself - it taught me a lot about myself and less about others but that's not the point I'm working right here, right now.

A couple of days later, still frustrated at my immobility, angry and close to tears, I considered something I had read before.

In Don Miguel Ruiz's book 'The Four Agreements", one of the agreements he encourages the reader to commit to him or herself is, 'To always do your Best'; understanding that you're 'best' can fluctuate from day to day. One day you're physically active, responsive and capable, the next day Mercury goes retrograde and you can't even get a copier to work with you.

A slight exaggeration I know but the premise still holds; we're often the first to beat ourselves up if we somehow miss the mark or fall short of our, or anyone else's, expectations.

For the last two weeks, the best that I have been able to do is rest - alot, ice my leg - 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off, and keep off it and elevated - regardless of my responsibilities or what anyone else thought, this was the best use of my time.

That forgiveness and self - permission took a bit of work to get to but I got there and finally, finally feel good enough to get back doing what I love to do; write and be in relationship with you and all whom I love.

We get to stop our self judgement right in it's tracks and find the courage to be kind to ourselves. Our self flagellation will only prolong our healing, perhaps even make it impossible to do so and it's only through kindness and laughter that our bodies vibrate with healing energy and gets about the business of straightening bones, repairing ligaments and strengthening muscles.


I know there's a metaphor for our culture, our time and our economy in there, but I'll leave it to you to find it!!

Sorry it's been a while since I've last written but I've been focused on doing my best, in the moment, every day - and I'm very glad to be back.


Take a moment and drop the needle on Aerosmith's Rocks album and listen to 'Back in the Saddle' cause I am, and loving it.

Much, much more to come, I've got a bit of catching up to do.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heros

Alice Waters taking the time to school me on her 'Edible Classroom' Initiative.
She was one of the first Chef's who really made an impression on me as a youngling; asides from the obvious female thing, I wanted to be just like her when I grew up!

Mission: Probable

Friends
One of the advantages of the consulting business is that, at rare wonderful times, one gets to travel outside of the country and get off the beaten path.
Often trainings and coaching occur away from the tourist attractions and one gets to see how the population really lives instead of the prepacked sanitized experiences ready for human consumption so often on display anywhere where the service sector drives the economy.
These can be sobering times and shout out for action and sometimes all that's neccesary is stepping in and taking a vested interest in people's lives. The reality is that no manager can coach, counsel or train anyone on just how the recipient works. One has to coach the entire soul, so to speak, in order to make a difference in their work life - the added benefit is that the coach-ee has a better life as well; their family benefits, their community and their nation.
Heady stuff considering it all started with proper hand washing techniques; yea that was a bit of sarcasm - but just a bit.
That's why foodwerks inc. has adpoted a new mission statement, and I've found a new focus: 'Making Lives More Meaningful One Dish at a Time.'
Given that's where we start, who knows where we'll end up?
Stick around, we'll keep you up on our progress!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where have all the bus boys gone?

Sounds like a bad 50's song but the reality is during this current economic downturn it seems that some operators have taken a look at their P&L's and have come up with the decision to do away with the busboys.
Now some operators never had them in the first place. J Alexander's and Houston's employ what's referred to as the 'Scatter Method' of managing the front of the house. Typically servers have a 3 - 4 table primary station and then an additonal 4 -8 tables in their vicinity that are their secondary stations to which they bring refills of beverages, run food and progressively bus the tables. You might see 'your' server twice during the entire process - once to take the order and then to present the check. I'm making it sound very simplistic but I know it's not. It's fascinating to watch the floor coverage and by the looks of their business - it works. I like the idea of the servers bussing their own tables - it forces them to be proactive and keeps them ahead of the service path; 'marking' tables with a steak knife there - steak MR, or a large dessert spoon designating the person who ordered the creme brulee.
But that's how they started their operation and have created a regimented system that covers all the bases.
I went to a beachside restaurant the other night, which has many locations and can be considered a local institution. I waited patiently with my daughter, our usual Wednesday keeping-up-with-the-child dinner, as the hostess looked around the seating field in desperation for a place to seat us. Most of the tables were still dirty from the last patrons and the girls on the floor looked a bit exasperated as they tried to keep up with the ebb and flow of the guest count.
It could have been that they were understaffed or had been busier than normal; being in the business I made a mental note and practised patience - the last thing they needed now was an unruly guest demanding to be serviced.
A kind and knowing smile is sometimes all that's needed to settle someone down and allow them to catch their breath.
The hostess looked at me, as if to throw her arms up in defeat and says, "We don't have any busboys."
'You mean they all called off on the same day?" I asked.
"No, the manager let them all go and now we're supposed to do it." Again a sad look crossed her face.
Okay, I thought, business decision - I can see why they would want to cut their payroll. Oddly enough though the manager was nowhere to be found and when he did stick his head out of the doorway it was to use that old chestnut of watching the action without actually meeting anyone's gaze or walking the tables. Not an easy feat I can tell you but some managers have it down to an art how they can be 'of the space' but not anywhere 'in the space'.
Two things lept to mind as I bussed an adjacent table so that the four German tourists could sit down and start spending some of their Euros:
1.) It's all too often that operators take a short term approach to bad times. To cut one of the most crucial, and grossly underpaid, positions in the front of the house just dosn't make any sense from a customer service point of view. I watched three groups of customers come in, take a look around, gauging the operations readiness to service them - and walk out.
At a $15.00 per person check average they lost at least $180.00 worth of business, more than three times what they would have paid one busboy for the shift and for those that stayed, they were left - how can I put it? The remaining guests, such as myself, were left with a bad taste in their mouth.
2.) These are the same kind of managers who won't buy the tools in order to do the job correctly, such as forks, spoons and glassware; believing that they can squeeze a few more dollars from the Direct Expenses Checkbook and look like heroes.
3.) If you're going to cut these positions, like busboys and dish washers, at least be present to show your commitment to the decision. Pitch in and support the rest of the staff with the added work; it dosn't have to be all night - just long enough to get the job done and send the signal that these types of decisions affect everyone and as such, everyone gets to jump in.
I heard it said once that 'fools get to be young once too' but hospitality managers who have the livelihoods of their staff and the satisfaction of their guests in their hands have got to be more thoughtful and intentional about how one handles a crisis or economic downturn.

Want a fix? Increase your revenue. If not, then roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty in the pursuit of your convictions. You'll score points with the staff and the guests will appreciate it as well.
I love to mop a floor every now and then; makes everyone wonder what the hell is wrong with chef.

Friday, February 6, 2009

'Life is not in here - it's out There!

video

Whether you're in to motorcycles, against facism, up with Schaunzers or down with the military industrial complex there's bound to be a group on the set who's set up their own social networking site. While I can see the validity of something like www.linkedin.com for career minded individuals, our business network is something of real value and can bring real opportunity and connection, some others real use can be a bit dubious at best.

If, like me, you're on one or two, don't limit yourself to one school of thought or slant. The reality is that most people will buy, and read, books that only affirm their beliefs, as if they're gathering evidence on why they feel a certain way about something. 'Yea, see I knew that there was something going on behind the scenes....'

Conspiracy Theorists Unite!

Social networking can be similarly polarizing. It's important to seek out and listen to dissenting views because that's only where real growth occurs - if everyone feels the same way about a particular subject there where is the discourse, the open - mindedness to say, 'You know, I never knew that cats had the same anal glands as dogs, go figure.'?

For someone looking to make a real difference in their's and other life theres www.ideapartyevent.ing.com . One dream is all it takes.

I love www.meetup.com because it gives seekers the opportunity to go out and actually meet, god forbid!, others with similar or different views. I have a meetup group, a book club of sorts called 'The Wolfpack, The Way of the Superior Man', to get real about the work of David Deida. 'When two or more are gathered...'

On the horizon is a social networking site that looks like it may eclipse what's presently available and could be something really significant. If you don't check it out, you'll never know and how often does a website offer equity positions for nothing more than a few minutes of time and access to your sphere of influence. Go to: www.me2everyone.com/84077 and tell em I sent you.

Let's face it people, the real world - and real relationships, only occur out there -in the physical world.

Now stop reading and go sign up for a salsa group, or Libertarians Against Socialism or Mother's for the Ethical Treatment of Teenagers - whatever grooves you - go out and get some.

Pass it on, Play it Forward & Be A River

Namaste

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Article Notification

Dear Friends
After a complete revamp of the site and the magazine itself, In The Biz Magazine is back in business with Nicole Jenkins at the editor's desk. I'm lucky enough to been asked to submit a monthly piece again. After Feb. 1st the new edition is at your favorite watering hole locally in Ft. Lauderdale or you can view the whole magazine at http://www.itbnation.com/ . Click on the South Florida icon and view great articles, pictures and ads all specifically geared towards the workers of the Hospitality Industry. I've been writing for them since August of 2006 and seen with my own eyes the growth of the brand. They're even starting editions in the NE and Vegas. Send them a quick email and let them know you're looking for them in your area.
For now, enjoy them here.
Please take time and add your name and email address to the 'Followers' tab to the left so that when we release our new, foodwerks inc newsletter 'The Art of Intentional Hospitality' in March, you'll be among the first to get it. This unique newsletter will be geared to F&B operators and will feature timely relevant articles written by industry leaders with tips, strategies and tools to support you in your success.
Till then
~ be a river ~

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thoughts on Thinking

'The trouble with you Adam is that you do several things well"
~ Steve Bowen
This little piece of wisdom was completey and utterly lost on me at the time it was shared with me.
What? How can doing things well be a problem?
My dad used to say, "Adam, you think too much."
Well damn, how can I stop? i thought people were supposed to think.
Scanlon would put it perfectly over a gran mariner one night, 'Lamb, just don't be bullshit.'
Hash words indeed.
But given the evidence, my results as of late, I think that they had a point.
Given some time to ponder since my last position was eliminated I started to understand what they were telling me.
Where was I in my life? Had I achieved everything I have ever dreamed of? I had become someone of consequence in this world - making it better than when I found it?
Apparently not.
But my past is not my future.
My writing efforts are a good example. I had several projects well under way and none of them finsihed. After starting them I would second guess myself, reconsider why I should even be attempting them and consequently I became bullshit; coming up short yet again on something that, not only I enjoyed but, I had committed to - even to the point of telling loved ones that I was, 'well on my way'.
Bullshit.
What Steve meant was that because I did several things well, I had a tendency to start many things and complete none of them.
What my dad meant was that I over thought things and would physc myself out.
Scanlon meant, well you know what she meant.
I've drawn up a specific plan for the year - given that the shortest path between 2 points is a straight line.
I've given it some deep thought and now have committed to a specific direction.
Upwards.
I even went so far as to ascribe deadlines for each line item - keepin on point
I've rescheduled my day in order that I will attend to everything on my list and take some action based on the results I want to see.
I'm sharpening the saw, as Steven Covey suggests, and have started 2 courses of study, one first thing in the morning when my critical thinking is best and one during lunch.
I'm realizing that the things I want in my life as posted on my Vision Board are going to take consistent focused attention and energy in order to achieve them.
'Slow and steady wins the race.' Mark Ciolko said to me on many occasions.
I get it now buddy
I'm on my way.
And no Scanlon, I won't be bullshit - I'll let my results speak for themselves.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friends

Kerri Scanlon of Swampscott Ma. sent me this list of quotes from 'Conversations with God' by Neale Donald Walsh. It makes up a mantra that has given me courage in my darkest moments.
She's a true gift in my life, it's something special when someone to stand for another's greatness especially when doubt rears it's ugly head.
Thank you my beloved!

You cannot lose in this battle
You cannot fail
Thus, it is not a battle at all
But simply a process
Yet if you do not know this
you will see if as a constant struggle
It is in not struggling that the process proceeds
It is the the surrendering that the vicotry is won
There is no coincidence
And nothing happens by accident
Each event and adventure
Is called to yourself by yourself
In order that you might create and
Experience who you really are
All true masters know this
All that is required is to know this
For you are the creator of your reality
And life can only show up in no other way for you
Than that way in which you think it will
Dedicated to Grampa Skinny - Hey Scanlon, how about another junior, sauce, cheese, mayo to go!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Onion



I once read a book called, 'The Supper of the Lamb', written by a Presbyterian Minister in which he writes a full 8 pages about peeling an onion. He sensed mysteries in it's layers and worked at bearing witness to it's secrets.
From a cook's presepctive there's something quite ironic that such a simple, humble vegetable could have such a sgnificant impact on that with which it shared a pan with.

Even if you won't eat the onion there's no way to cook without it and still get that certain herbal sweetness that it imparts to everything it touches.

I bring up the onion, and the book, because over the past month or so I've been working at discovering what my vision is. My mission, my purpose whatever you want to call it, or lack thereof has driven whole industries from books, movies and seminars.

A friend of mine who is a professional speaker and trainer was in Miami and needed a place to stay so we blew up the air mattress, chilled a bottle of wine and settled down for, what I thought would be, an intresting weekend.

You see my friend, Darren Jacklin has no doubt about what his mission is and because he is so committed to it that he lives and breathes it. Every conversation he has revolves around his mission in life and for some who don't live with that kind of drive, he can be a bit exhasuting. But he never faulters because his vision feeds him, fuels him and drives him like only a few I've ever experienced before.

It wasn't like he was conducting a seminar, removed from the crowd on a stage. I sometimes imagined that Dr Wayne Dyer must collapse into a chair back stage after a presentation because it looks and feels like he gives so much during his lecture; he leaves it all on stage - not an ounce left to give.

But that's not the way it is; these guys are energized by their comittment to their mission whatever it might be - they are 100% completely bought in to what they do and it breathes fire into their bellies.

Darren was much the same way as we drove to Whole Foods to get wheat grass shots or late at night on the balcony looking west into the gloam of night.

He suggested that I read this book called 'The Way of the Superior Man' by David Deida. It's about men and the challenges they face at work and in their primary relationship with women, A spiritual Men are from Mars thing. I had read highlighted excerpts from the copy that Darren carried around with him and found it intriguing.

I could write an entire post about the book and not cover half of what's in there and certainly without the stunted eloquence of the writer but his basic hypothesis is that men who have a strong masculine core - who are attracted to women of a strong feminine essence, must have a mission in life.

Men's lives are about mission and purpose while women's lives are about the flow of love in their relationships. I know that I'm making it sound simplistic but we all know it's not.

A man on a mission makes all else worth living - some men's purpose could be having a loving and nurturing home, some could be of political leadership; only they can say.

Having gone through losing a job, having a significant back surgery and getting a little long in the tooth I thought that it might be a good thing to ponder my mission. The author then goes on to say that our mission or purpose in life is like the layers of an onion. The purpose that drove me through my 30's served me then until I paid my karma for that particular cycle, then it would be time to peel back the layer and get to the next purpose.

Sometimes that purpose dosn't show up immediately and then, as Deida puts it, it's time to wait until it shows up.

Deida's got some specific strategies in his book for someone like me, on a mission to find my mission so I got about the business of discovering my purpose.

No TV, no Talk Radio, no Newspapers, nothing to read that didn't have a higher aspiration, no sweets, candy, gum or ice cream (dammit!), no sex or fantasies thereof; execerise, meditation, affrimation, straighten up & fly right - austerity to the extreme.
Sitting Shiva for my Past.
I was lucky, I didn't have to spend 40 days in the desert like Jesus did before the Devil showed up - my demons were of fleeter feet. After a week of the simple life one dayI was meditating - more of an awakened dream than chanting or sitting uncomfortably with my legs crossed (for those of you who know me know that for me, those type of poses are laughable) and it came to me. Just like that, in the moment of least resistance and most allowance.

Now I had my purpose, my vision for my life but I had no idea how to make it happen and apparently, that's okay. Once the mission is clear then the chances to serve your purpose show up, and they have - in abundance.

I don't know exactly how it all works but knowledge of the laws of the universe is not a prerequisite for those laws to work. They work with or without my acceptance or aquiesence

but you sure can maximize your opportunities working with the laws rather than against them. I'm learning fast.
Question now is, do you know what your mission is?

If not, why not take the time to find out - the world will be waiting for you when you get back. Then we all can get busy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Resume Hell


Big A-Ha this morning; more like ha-ha-hahahahaha (hysterical ironic laughter)
Like most mornings, after my coffee, exercise, mediation, morning movement and affirmations I sit down in front of the computer for an hour of 'free time', read 'actually working and not just surfing porn'.
The ritual is to first read all the food service related newsletters from the day before, omg - not another one! Then I cruise the job boards and check my search agents from http://www.simplyhired.com/ A great site if time is short because they poll all the other sites from Monster.com to iHirechefs.com and list all the information with links to the original postings.
Right now I have one search agent for Chef jobs in Florida and the other for jobs nation wide filtered by my work experience, would-love-to's and absolutley-have-to-have's. I'm sure that you or someone you know goes through this process as well.
I have a job but it never hurts to check out the market, constantly scanning for that dream position; working for a great progressive company that values their people as their primary assets and actually has programs in place to prove it.
You know a company like Google or Timberland, the shining examples of what's possible if there's a rational juxaposition between profit and personnel.
side dish - I've realized that there are so few of these types of companies out there despite their handsome returns on investments that I've come to the conclusion that if I can't work for one of these industry leaders then it's incumbent upon me to create one. Anyone out there that's ready to put together a world class hospitality company feel free to email me!
Every morning I recheck my resume; is it too short, is it too long, is there sufficent skill shown to make a convincing arguement for a phone call, that kind of thing.
Satisfied, for the moment, I'll choose a couple of postings, do some research and create a skillfully worded cover letter and attach a resume.
Since July of last year I've put out about, conservatively, 350.
I've had two phone calls, 1 in person interview and 1 cooking demo.
Those are tough odds indeed and while the internet may have created a Brave New World for us, it's effectively cut us off from our fellow human beings.
When MySpace blew up a couple of years ago I spent countless hours coaching my girls that the real world did not, in fact, live inside the 22" monitor but out there, amongst the rest of humanity.
'C'mon Dad', they would say as if to imply that the old man just didn't it.
Now I do.
Frustrated at the lack of response my well engineered resumes and cover letters were getting me I realized that my job search should not, in fact could not, reside in there.
And while I have since created a lattice work of presence in cyber space from my profile on Linkedin, my web page, my on line articles and my soon to be published book available from the storefront courtesy of http://www.lulu.com/, all that pales in comparision with shaking someone's hand, looking them confidently in the eyes and sitting down to a connected conversation.
Business, and life, have only ever been about relationships and good as the internet tools are they're just no substitute for a physical presence because as well as I've written my resume it'll never tell the whole tale about who I am, where I've come from, what I've learned along the way and the great and good people that have helped forge who I am today.
Power down the box and get your feet out in the street, there's someone out there looking for you, even if they don't know it yet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kanji Up Yourself

Last year, in July, I became a number.
I was a chef, a pretty highly regarded one as well with plenty of accolades and pictures on the wall. I had left a diminishing position with a well known regional Theater company after their CEO got ousted by the board from the company that he had built with his own two hands over 15 years.
I guess that made us both numbers.
I followed the ousted CEO as he defiantly declared that he would build again, this time better and bigger and this time he wouldn't be giving away any significant percentage of his company.
And so we built.
I learned more in the two years I worked in that office than I did for the previous 10 but this time I learned about construction, design, mission statements, SOG's, FFE and color palletes.
We built in Milwaukee where we were sure that our 'product' would be met with eager anticipation.
We did our home work, our R&D, our pre marketing blitz, everything had been thoroughly mulled over.
For a while we did well but running a business 1200 miles away does have it's challenges.
Then came the housing market, then the credit crunch and pretty soon instead of having 3-4 projects coming out of the ground all developers ran for cover as the financial fallout increased.
Testicles were shrinking quicker than a cold shower.
And so the CEO was placed in the unenviable position of cutting back. He did the easiest ones first, assistants and support personnel but pretty soon it was apparent that the bleeding wasn't slowing down much as the 'doctor's' has prmoised.
Then it was my turn; great work, just bad economics.
Still a bitter pill to swallow but I wished them, as I wish them now, ever the best of luck because I truly believed in what we were doing and what we were offering.
Sometimes you can be a bit too far in front of the market place and it takes a while for the buying public to 'get' what you're pitching.

But if you think this is just another in a long line of gripes, complaints, sour grapes, panic and fear, read again.
What I learned there has prepared me for where I'm at now and I couldn't be here if it wasn't for that herculean effort.
I 'lost' that job but really it was sacrificed for the higher possibility for my life. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say.
One of the last tasks I had tackled turned out to be the first thing I did, once out on my own.
Turned out that my affinity with a particular recipe/inventory program was in demand in all sorts of different places and business types from QSR to Fine Dining and while I may not be making as much money as I did before I am more impassioned and committed to being in service in a way that makes a unique and quantifiable difference to these groups.

I am in deep gratitude for my time with the boys and I am now focused on seeing just how much I can achieve in the service of others; how high is up even if the world is, temporarily turned upside down.

Kanji in the Kitchen is defined as: the process of achieving and maintaining a grounded and present connection with the cooking process by cultivating a positive and expansive attitude.
Even though I may not be in a kitchen from day to day for now, I can use this principle to be more effective and, ultimately, more joyfull.
And you?