strategy

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One of my favorite moments is when a good cook expectantly asks, “Are you hungry?”

You can tell from their face that they hope the response will be, “Why, yes, I am hungry.”

An affirmative response acts as an invitation for a cook to do what they do: attempt to satisfy another’s need with their talent/passion.

A meal is a success when both the cook and the person for whom she has cooked end the meal happy.

Looking at the empty plate, the satisfied cook smiles; looking at the cook, the satisfied eater smiles.

Both had completely different roles in this relationship, but both had their needs met, and they share at least one thing in common: both are smiling.

This is different from the clichéd “win/win” relationship; this is a relationship of individual values amplified by symbiosis.

These are the types of relationships we should look for in our work and in our life.

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A recipe

The Sadly Neglected Soft Boiled Egg

We neglect the perfection of the soft-boiled egg for no good reason that I can discern. There’s no easier way to cook an egg, and, it results in a far more satisfying outcome than any alternative I can think off.

Here’s how to do it right:

With a spoon gently place two eggs into a just-simmering small pan of water for four minutes.

Take the eggs out and run them under cold water just long enough so that they’re cool enough to handle.

Place in an egg cup (or some reasonable facsimile (shot glass)) and, using a serrated knife (more narrow, the better), saw the top of the egg off (it’s easier than it sounds).

Add some salt and pepper.

Serve with good toast.

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I was recently with my friends Troy and Charlie Ball (there’s no way I can adequately explain what makes Troy and Charlie so inspiring, but this will give you a good sense of why I do (scroll down to the “Marshall, Coulton and Luke, The Sons” section)).

We were at a gathering and Troy was making introductions. She introduced all of those in the group, including her husband, Charlie, as only a classy Southern woman can; in that way that makes everyone feel special. At the end of the introductions she added this line: “I go with Charlie.”

Those three words — “I go with” — have stayed with me since she said them.

Certainly, the phrase is partly a Southern colloquialism, but that’s not why it resonated with me. Rather, it impacted me because it so succinctly articulates a relationship of values.

The choices we make with respect to who we “go with” define us.

Certainly, I “go with” Marci, and with Annabelle, and Henry. But I also “go with” my friends, and I “go with” those with whom I work.

Going with the people with whom your values align is challenging today, because we’re bombarded with the possibility to “go with” just about anyone.

In this era where we’re constantly filtering, sorting, adding and subtracting the people we “go with” — following people on Twitter/Facebook, subscribing to RSS feeds/Tumblr blogs, and working on myriad projects — it becomes increasingly important, and often increasingly difficult, to “go with” the people we really should.

For individuals, this is a problem because the people with whom we shouldn’t go, but still do to some degree, diminish the attention we can spend with those with whom we should go.

For firms, the problem is more about the opportunity cost associated with non-value adding customers. Social media gives the illusion that a company can connect to pretty much any customer (we’re all on FB, right?). But, of course, the reality is that unless the values of the company align with those of the customer, reaching them/connecting with them does no good, and often does harm.

We’re very much in the era of “curation,” (it’s the only antidote to information overload). Discerning, therefore, who and what you “go with” has taken on a heightened importance.

[Disclosure: I have proudly assisted Troy & Charlie in the lead up to the launch of their Moonshine.]

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