I recently came out from under my rock and discovered Daniel Pink, an author of a few books that I might eventually deem as important. It could be too early to tell, but if I’m right, I’ll have this post as proof five years from now that I recognized the significance of his thinking.
Two books in specific are A Whole New Mind and Drive. Here Pink points out three factors with which any business owner must contend if he or she is to be successful in the days ahead. He says if you can outsource it to India, or if a computer can do it faster, and if there is no demand for your product in an age of abundance, you are pretty much destined for failure. In other words, if someone else can do it cheaper and faster and nothing sets you apart from all the other dogs in the hunt, it might be time to start looking at a different business model.
My friend Denny, a regular weekend customer, was the first person to point me to Pink’s writing. One Saturday morning in the course of our conversation, he jotted down the name Daniel Pink on the back of his business card and strongly encouraged me to get my hands on one of his books. He told me he could see what Pink was talking about through our restaurant, and so I put a copy on hold at the local public library. And yes, I am fascinated by what I am reading.
Food is one product that is not going to be served to you via computer from a telecommunicator in India. And granted, there are lots of options for places to eat, all are not created equally with design fully in mind. Our culture is glutted with impersonal, meaningless and downright awful choices when it comes to how we feed ourselves, and I believe we are coming to a place of epiphany as we realize what we’ve been missing.
Design is the marriage of utility with significance. How a product, system or manufactured good is designed is given credence and has much more importance today than ever before. My parents’ generation cared mainly of function. Appearance and style were secondary. They didn’t care as much about how something looked or felt. They only wanted it to work, work properly and last a long, long time.
You and I are now living in a different time period. We have moved further up Maslow’s hierarchy. We ask different questions, and we seek different answers. It’s why we change jobs and careers so much. In short, we are looking for meaning and we are willing to make assumptions about financial security in order to find it.
We find that meaning in the things we buy. Why else would Jeep be promoting their vehicles by boasting that “the things we make, make us.” Don Draper would not have used that line to pitch a car to my dad.
My joy in being a chef is reconnecting people to something so very basic, and reintroducing food to a generation now, that 50 years ago, would not be quite so impressed. Grandma made her own bread and of course she cooked everything slow. It’s not rocket science, son. What would she think about her daily chore that has now become an industry of celebrity and stardom?
Our future opportunity with food is blue sky, and if you have the gift, you might want to think seriously about spreading your wings and flying there.