What Cooking Can Teach You About Business

POST DATE Feb 15, 2016

AUTHOR Udo Jahn

I love cooking! It goes without saying that I also love to eat good food. I love the adventure and even the romance associated with food. Dinner is the highlight of the day for many people because it brings everyone together. Every time I have a good meal I usually ask for the recipe. Over the years I have found that the best recipes are usually the simplest. You take a few good ingredients and mix them together to create a great meal. This makes cooking easy and simple, and doesn’t stress me out when I’m trying to make something new.

The same applies to success in business — simpler is usually better.

Since I’m always looking for good recipes, I have gathered quite a cookbook collection. I particularly like the ones that have step by step instructions with pictures. They’re simple to follow and usually have a really good culinary story with them, which makes them fun. The books I’ve kept usually have what I call “easy to make” recipes. 

The books that I usually don’t buy, or if I do I soon give away, are the ones that contain very complicated recipes with extensive steps for preparing the meal. They really stress me out. I look at the long list of ingredients and the large number of preparation steps and my mind just shuts down. I feel kind of defeated and lost because there is no way that I will have any fun making this complicated recipe, and my chances of success seem dismal at best. Not a nice feeling, so I avoid these recipes.

If you know me then you know that some of my favourite recipes come from Italian and Asian cuisines. I find many of their recipes extremely simple. They taste good, and they’re simple, and my success rate for preparing these types of meals has been pretty good. Rarely have they not worked out. Don’t get me wrong, I make lots of other cultural recipes as well, but I focus on Italian and Asian. Just make sure you have good ingredients to start with — the shorter list of ingredients in these simple recipes means you need to have the best quality to bring out the best flavour.

Just like the multitude of cookbooks out there, there’s tons of business articles and blogs in existence offering you the “secret to success.” You know, the type of articles that say “10, 25, or 101 Things You Need to Change/Do to Be Successful.” There are so many! I have read quite a few of them and they are constantly being posted on social media by many famous and intelligent people.

Many of these articles make great points, but as the list of 1,267 things I need to do to be successful keeps going, I begin to get the same feeling that I get when looking at those long, complicated recipes. “There is no way I am going to be able to do this well!” I think, and similar to those long recipes, I fear my chances of success are doomed to fail. Yet I continue to see these list type posts everywhere. Complicated intertwined lists. I guess you know where I am going with this. For me, these long complicated lists get put in the same place as those complex cookbooks I never use…

I don’t know about you, but I wholeheartedly try to make small changes every day to improve my business and professional life. I make myself a small “success recipe” everyday, with simple steps, and apply that to my work. The path to self-improvement in business is different for everyone but for me, I find it’s easier to concentrate and get things accomplished when I have a clear, simple plan in front of me, instead of 1,267 things to remember.  

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that need to be worked on. We just need to go out and find that nice, short recipe for improvement to master, and apply that recipe on a daily basis. That’s what I have been doing and I may not be super great at it yet, but I know I can make this recipe work. A simple plan for business improvement will still have challenges, just like finding really good quality ingredients for a nice meal can be difficult. But with an easy to follow plan, there won’t be an overwhelming number of things to focus on, so success instantly seems probable, instead of unlikely. 

I don’t want this to sound too simple, but like my Italian friends say, “Good ingredients will always shine through in the simplest recipe to create a great meal.” Bon appetit!

Author: Udo Jahn

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