My son, who works in the restaurant industry, sent me this fantastic podcast where David Chang interviews Chris Bianco (of Pizzeria Bianco) and Chad Robertson (of Tartine Bakery) about their lives and careers. It’s incredible; you should listen to it.
But what struck me most about the interview was how the problems, fears, and challenges they talk about are so familiar. As they talk about their careers, you hear them say:
1. They work too much.
Chad tells the story about how he’d make the dough, then sleep for 4 hours while the dough rose. Then get up and finish making the bread, running the bakery, etc. hoping to catch 4 hours of sleep before rising the next day to make the dough.
2. They believe it’s all up to them and so they don’t lead or manage their teams.
Chris describes how his restaurant was in chaos as he spent 20 hours “in front of the oven” because if he’s not on the oven — then any disappointment the customers have is his fault!
3. They describe themselves as poor managers.
You’ve seen “Hell’s Kitchen” right?
4. They have a hard time balancing family and work.
It’s tough to have a family if you are in front of the oven 20 hours a week.
5. They spend so much time honing their craft they lose perspective on the world around them.
Chad talks about going to a museum and listening to what other people had to say about the art and he just felt lost and confused. He realized then that he was missing out on life.
Any of this sound familiar?
So if agency owners have these problems, and chefs have these same problems, maybe the problem isn’t the business. Maybe the problem is us!
What if humans tend to over-optimize for the things that give immediate praise and results?
Like work over family, like tending our craft over building our business, like doing the thing instead of building a team?
What if humans tend to expect too much of younger people, forgetting how long it took us to learn?
And so we are bad managers, too harsh in our critiques and not patient enough to let them grow.
What if humans need to find sane rhythms of work and rest?
But we struggle with that because we’re bad at delaying gratification and we have a fear that if we don’t keep working, we’ll starve, or worse, become irrelevant.
What does all this mean?
It means you aren’t a bad person, or a failure if you experience these things! It means you are human. It means that just like Chad and Chris there’s a way to get past these issues and learn new ways of being.
So how do we do that — learn from this example — what are we going to do differently today, tomorrow, next week?