This Is Your Story

Want to really piss off a millennial? Ask them “What did you think your adult life would be like growing up?”
Want to have a full-on existential crisis? Truly and sincerely listen to the answers– and wonder if you haven’t forgotten being that pissed off once too.

Sorry about that. Let me make it up to you by sharing a comforting truth- success is relative, and how it looks is up to you.

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Getting Your Head Right

I remember when my father, fresh off of some new training and then reconfirmed in team management training of my own, told me the Three Requirements for Change. They rang true enough in my own life and observations that I put them in my first book:

  • 1. The need for change must be recognized. (I.e. “I can’t keep going on like this. Something has to change.”)
  • 2. The nature of that change must be known. (“I need to ____”)
  • 3. The idea of changing must be less terrifying than the consequences of not changing. (“Changing will be hard, but it’s gotta be better than if I keep going like I am.”)

I find myself in a position once again where change is needed. The third requirement is usually the toughest one to establish for change- people will often accept familiar misery over the unknown chance for happiness. In my case, however, it’s the second requirement that’s tripping me up. Where to from here?

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More Hands On Deck- What I Look For In A Baker

When you decide (and are given the opportunity) to be a team leader, you will eventually have to decide how to build your team. As tempting as it is to want to feed everything to a formula or algorithm, scan resume after resume and call in anyone that fits the metrics you need, we all know that doesn’t always pan out.

Life is messy and squishy. The people you hire may have the technical skills you need, but lack the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that would make them effective. It’s hard to set hard numbers on “soft skills”– and even harder to gauge how a person will interact with and impact the performance of others.

Hiring for a kitchen is a masterclass in these factors. It’s hard to imagine a more brutal crucible than a busy restaurant or bakery. The work is rough, the atmosphere can be tense, and the nature of the business is working closely with others. Tempers and passions flare, motivations clash, and successful teams are the ones where everyone can pull together.

What do I look for in a would-be piemonger? A lot of what you’d expect, but maybe not how you expect it.

“And now that I have got my terms I will tell you my reasons for making up my mind to go. First of all, gentlemen, I have been observing you both for the last few days, and if you will not think me impertinent I may say that I like you, and believe that we shall come up well to the yoke together. That is something, let me tell you, when one has a long journey like this before one.”
Allan Quatermain, King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
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Up and Down- Chasing Vibes and Riding the Curve

I used to be a little smug about not drinking coffee. When you’re a weird, obnoxious kid trying to find out who you are, it’s often easier to find definitions based on what you’re not. In my case, I wasn’t “one of those coffee shop people.” I had a massive collection of tea in my cabinets at college for any reason and any taste. My friends jokingly called me a “tea shaman,” and if I really needed caffeine? That’s why God invented energy drinks.

As I write this 16 years later, sitting in a coffee shop with an empty cappuccino at my right hand, I can tell you I’m still not a coffee guy. I’m drinking a vibe… it just happens to be coffee based. “A man who can laugh at himself shall never cease to be amused.”

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A Menu of Memories

It’s almost 7pm, and I’m sitting at a two-top at the Horse Brass. I’m trying to think of what to write again, nursing a locally-made Baltic Porter and staring at the empty broiler boat that- until very recently- was holding about 8 pickle spears for $3.50. No sales tax.

Where else would I be now? I’m a beer nerd with a cloak on a rainy day in Portland near Mount Tabor. I’ve got the back half of a short week at the bakery to start tomorrow morning, the blessing of my boss, and ideas for how my weekend will go. Where else would I be but here?

I might be back in Jersey. That beer might be a more expensive local brew, but those pickles might have been the Pickle Plates at Downbeach Deli that still live in my memory- their selection of greyed full-sours and perky green half-sour pickles supporting recurring guest stars of Pickled Onion, a Cherry Pepper, and a few wedges of Green Tomato atop a pool of commingled brine. That is, if they were ever separated at all.

Maybe it’s the beer and time of year, but I can feel the rose-colored Nostalgia Glasses settling into place. I’m gonna tell you about some fond food memories.

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