This is a great look at one example of a successful restaurant business. Jonathan Fields calls it “bootstrapping with a bit of divine intervention.” That story is about four minutes in. The whole interview is interesting, and a good background look for anybody curious about the restaurant business, particularly one successful restaurant business, not stylized for cable TV.
If for any reason you don’t see the video, click here to get to the original on YouTube.
This is a really good interview, with a lot of good stories, about real life in the restaurant business.
And while I’m on the subject, this is part of a series Jonathan is doing called the “Good Life Project.” It’s a great collection. You can find that here on YouTube, on Jonathan’s Career Renegade channel.
Today is a good day to object to all the phony entrepreneurship lore that has people putting aside life and love for business. The whole mystique of giving it all, being obsessed, and burning the midnight oil, while it might inspire some, leaves me as cold as ice. It’s a ruse. Don’t buy it.
Despite the common myth to the contrary, business passion, persistence, and perseverance do not guarantee business success. Using your business as an excuse to ignore relationships, people, and family is a mistake. Do what you love, yes, and love what you do; but stop it, often, to love life and the people you live it with.
I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Words of love issued on Feb. 14 seem a bit like the last-minute chocolates, flowers, and sweet-smelling upscale soap in the picture here: contrived, diluted, over-wrapped, and useful only at the last minute, if at all.
So today on Valentine’s Day I refer to something I wrote in the normal course of business, on a day that wasn’t Valentine’s Day. In Relationship vs. New Business, originally written in March of 2009, a student had asked me in email:
Would you have still left your job and ventured out on your own if your wife were absolutely unsupportive and opposed to the idea?
I said no. And answering the question reminded me of how important my wife’s support was to my own career. This is from my answer:
This is a tough question, obviously. Every case is different.
But we do glorify the entrepreneurial a bit too much, and we glaze over some of the risks involved. Sometimes. I know, my answer sort of spoils the story and the rah-rah of entrepreneurship, the idea that we follow our passion and overcome all obstacles. But it’s the truth. Businesses fail, and it’s naive of us to forget that sometimes they fail despite our best efforts. Sometimes the reluctant spouse is just plain right. Sometimes the failure to get investment, the obstacles that accumulate, are a message.
And looking at it realistically, there’s no denying, like it or not, that a spouse who doesn’t buy into the dream adds to the risk. You don’t want to throw the family into the mix. Plan more, research more, and either answer the objections or accept that the world is sending you a clue. Keep your job. Gulp: if you still have one.
Here’s a true story: Before I left a good job to strike out on my own, my wife said “go for it; you can do it.” And she meant it. At several key points along the way, she made it clear that we would take the risk together. There was never the threat of “I told you so; why did you leave a good job, you idiot!” What she said was “if you fail, we’ll fail together, and then we’ll figure it out. We’ll be OK.”
That was in 1983. Failures, dark times, three mortgages and $65,000 in credit card debt at one point didn’t help our relationship. But what we started back then survived, and so did we; we’re still married.
There are two entrepreneurs in that true story of the conversation with my wife, not just one. And entrepreneurship and relationships, if you want both, take two people.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, there’s still room for a reminder that real relationships are important for the other 364 days of the year, too. Say it right today, yes. But live it, don’t just say it.
This is so cool. I’m really jealous. As he finishes up his next book, Jonathan Fields turns to the web and his so-called tribe for help with the book title. In Help Me Choose The Title Of My Next Book, he put a poll onto his blog and promoted in there and in Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Why am I jealous? Because I didn’t think of something like this for any of my books. What a great idea.
Choosing a book title is hell. It’s really hard to do, critical to the content, and critical to sales and success. Could there possibly be a better way? Much as I complain about dumb polls and over-researched decisions, this is a great use of so-called crowd sourcing.
In my defense, it’s easier now than in 2008 when my most recent two were published. But Twitter had already started, and this blog was already here, and so was my other blog Up and Running, on entrepreneur.com. I could have done it. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful for how much help I got from Jere Calmes and the team at Entrepreneur Press, but still … damn!
Whatever the eventual title, I expect Jonathan’s upcoming book to be really good. When he interviewed me for it maybe a year ago, he was talking to a lot of people and asking some very important questions. He went into deep core issues about entrepreneurship and creativity, like dealing with fear, finding time for silence, and balancing needs and wants. That interview left me thinking about related issues long after. I’m really looking forward to reading the book that comes out of that.
What happens if you make light of your achievements, shun the spotlight, and pass the microphone on to the next person in line? Will this stunt your career growth?
I’ve worried about this for years. I used to deal with a guy who did very well as a professional expert, while knowing not much more than what he’d read the in a trade journal or two the night before a presentation. That never bothered him. And he did very well. And it kind of bothered me.
And then we have the new world order of personal branding, led by experts like Dan Schawbel, Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, John Jantsch, and many others. Dan is the leading expert as defined by Google. Those others are great personal brands, acknowledged experts. What does personal branding say about humility? Can you get there with humility? (hint: some do, some don’t.)
I’d like to think that the world rewards people who let others tell their achievements. But does it? Can someone who doesn’t love the spotlight be a leader? A leader is defined by followers. What if you never take credit and stick in the background? Will your would-be followers ever find you? Will they give you credit?
A sense of humility is essential to leadership because it authenticates a person’s humanity. We humans are frail creatures; we have our faults. Recognizing what we do well, as well as what we do not do so well, is vital to self-awareness and paramount to humility.
He goes on, in that post, to list ways to demonstrate humility in the workplace. Temper authority, look to promote others, acknowledge what others do.
And yet, much as I like this idea, I think it has to be tempered with reality. People are busy. People need to be told what they think. If you don’t take credit, somebody else will. Baldoni says:
Can you be too humble in the workplace? Yes. If you fail to put yourself, or more importantly your ideas, forward, you will be overlooked. Chances for promotion will evaporate, but worse you will not give anyone a reason to believe in you. All of us need not lead others, but those who do seek to influence, to change, to guide, and to lead their organizations, need to find ways to get noticed. Again humility comes to the rescue. That is, if you celebrate team first, self second, people will notice what you and your team have achieved.
Damn: paradox. Lack of a general rule. All of it case by case. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a conclusion there about doing the right things in moderation. What do you think?
Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade, drew out the best of me for his podcast with me that he posted yesterday. He has a real knack for getting into the bigger issues, like both sides of entrepreneurship, and how important the rest of your life is, as compared to your business.
Yes, we do talk about business planning and classics of entrepreneurship in this interview, but he also got me talking about how much of my career hinged on mistakes, luck, and my wife saying things like how we’d take the risk together.
My advice: if you get a chance to do a podcast with Jonathan, say yes.