On Leadership, Enterprise, and Blueberry Wheat Cakes

Blueberry Wheat Pancakes

How’s your logic? I ask this because I used to assume everyone operated from the same rational perspective. Then I tried to eat a blueberry wheat-cake and my world changed.

Enterprising Product

One day I had friend talk about a restaurant that had “the world’s best blueberry wheat-cakes.” He said that he would drive for two hours each way to eat these delicious breakfast treats!

He passionately described the fresh blueberries and the unique hearty taste he experienced. With his commentary, I was intrigued.

But somehow, I got side tracked and forgot his suggestion. I put his recommendation on pause…

A Second Recommendation

About two months later, a different buddy told me that he was coming to town from a different city about 90-minutes away to eat at the same restaurant that I remembered served the same blueberry wheat-cakes. I asked why he was stopping there.

He explained that this restaurant had an incredible breakfast dish that was like pancakes, but that it was made with wheat and blueberries.

He said that it was just incredible!

I said, “Do you mean blueberry wheat-cakes?”

Immediately his eyes lit up and he said, “Oh wow, you must have had them then!”

That Good? Really?

At this point, I was baffled. I thought that “I have friends who are driving long distances on weekends to eat a specific dish that I had never tried.

All I could think was that blueberry wheat-cakes must be incredible and the restaurant must be amazing.

I came home that night and told my wife that we MUST eat these blueberry wheat-cakes. Clearly not understanding my unbridled passion for the very specific dish, she kind of looked at me like I was crazy and said, “ok, let’s go in a couple weeks.”

On a Mission

Blueberry Wheat PancakesAbout six weeks later we arose early and headed to get our blueberry wheat-cake on.

As we drove to the restaurant, there was a palpable anticipation in the air. We walked up to the counter and I proudly ordered. The woman behind the counter quickly replied this:

“We don’t serve those anymore. What else can I get ya?”

I was shocked. There clearly must have been a misunderstanding. I was coming to get the dish that apparently had made the restaurant famous.

I said:

“Oh no, I said blueberry wheat-cakes,” making sure to slowly enunciate each syllable.

She said:

“Yea, I heard you the first time. We stopped serving them a few weeks ago.”

Whaaa? I asked how the restaurant decided to stop serving such a wildly popular dish, explaining that I heard that people were driving in from over 100 miles away just to eat it.

More Convo…

What ensued ranks right up there with some of the great mysteries of our human existence.

She said:

“Yea, it was a heck of a problem. We had people waiting for over two hours to get their orders. The line was out the door. Our kitchen was constantly slammed with that one specific order. So, we decided to stop serving them.”

I seriously thought she was messing with me. I said:

“You have got to be kidding me. The blueberry wheat-cakes were so popular that you decided to stop making them?”

“Yep,” she said.

Moving On…

I stood there irate, confused and genuinely upset at this travesty of capitalism.

Exasperated, I exclaimed this:

  • “You’re in the business of selling food to people who want to buy it right?”
  • “Why didn’t you raise your prices?”
  • “Why didn’t you add to your kitchen staff?”
  • “Why didn’t you expand to a larger location?”
  • “Why didn’t you franchise?”
  • “Why didn’t you create a blueberry wheat cakes app for smart phones?” (Okay, maybe that one was a little far-fetched)

About half-way through the fifth or sixth recommendation she interrupted me saying this:

“Look, if you want to order something, do so. If not, I need to help the next person in line.”

I looked up confusedly at her and said,

“I’ll take the breakfast burrito.”

I could explain the absolute maniacal logic used to make the decision… but I think you get the point.

Think about your life and business. Do you have any blueberry wheat-cakes? Are you missing opportunities because of your perspective?

Still to this day, I wonder if I shouldn’t buy the recipe and set up a blueberry wheat-cakery next door. Hhmmm…

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Brent Beshore is serial entrepreneur & owner of AdVentures (#28 on 2011 Inc. 500)
He blogs on Entrepreneurship & serves Startups, including a Digital Talent Agency
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog

Image Sources: coffeefun.com, housebeautiful.com

On Leadership, Reality and Embracing Failure

"Fail"

“Failure is not an option.” How many times have you heard this in your life?

Perhaps it was from your high school football coach, your college adviser discussing potential PhD programs, or the lead actor of a Hollywood action flick getting ready to disarm the nuclear weapon and save the world?

This phrase is intended to motivate. It demonstrates tenacity and implies that failure is something so terrible one can’t even consider it.

But is this reality?

Getting Real

Think about it. Life is not a movie and nor are you the star quarterback on the football team. Life is not about singular events, but instead it unfolds as a continuum of choices with no defined conclusion.

Life is about the means and not the end.

“Failure is not an option” is a very dangerous phrase. It causes anxiety where there should be none. It implies that failing makes a failure. It creates a dystopic reality, where fear reigns supreme. This is the opposite of the good life.

If this mantra is swimming in your head, I would drain that swamp and fill it back up with something healthier.

From my experience:

  • Failure is the ONLY option
  • Failure educates
  • Failure creates new opportunities
  • Failure provides perspective and appreciation
  • Failure is meaningful

Real Life. Real Money.

Lucky SevenI once spoke with the head of a venture capital fund who claimed he doesn’t consider investing in an entrepreneur who had not failed at least seven times.

I can understand once, but seven times?

This VC’s thinking has netted him some pretty impressive results and when you step back and consider it, it makes a lot of sense.

He wanted the entrepreneur to fail with someone else’s money first (or for the seventh time), learn from it, and then take the cumulative knowledge from those failures and create a success with his money.

Real Flexibility

Failure also creates resiliency

As the old adage says, “It’s not failure that matters, it’s what you do next.”

If an entrepreneur is willing to stand back up and get back on the horse for the second, third, or seventh time, chances are she won’t buckle under the myriad of meaningless pressure that is applied on a daily basis.

But professional failure isn’t just reserved for entrepreneurship. I encourage failure amongst those who work for me and with me.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I encourage failure.

If people are consistently failing, then they’re not pushing themselves. A fear of failure creates laziness, boredom, and a distinct lack of productivity…which, consequently, is the real failure.

Real Performance

Get Back on the HorseWhen I say that I encourage failure, I’m not asking for people to perform poorly. Quite the contrary. I’m demanding that people perform extraordinarily. Trying not to fail is vastly different than trying to win. When people become defensive in the workplace it becomes about avoiding disappointment rather than exploring success.

I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret:

Businesses are not built on avoiding disappointment.

A fear of failure also creates some nasty byproducts, of which is a scarcity mentality. Stephen Covey famously describes this as “the zero-sum paradigm of life.

People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.”

A Real Shame

A fear of failure (and it’s close cousin “insecurity”) instill the need for survival and not the need for success. This survival mode creates the desire to avoid failure at all costs, to cheer and encourage others’ failures, and to generally loathe others’ success. I don’t have to explain how this damages not only the person, but everyone around him.

Just like an insidious disease, fear of failure is infectious and disastrous.

A Real Solution

So do the opposite. Don’t fear failure. Strive for success and not to avoid failure. Adopt an Abundance Mentality. Root for others’ success. Take risks and enjoy the results either way.

Life is a game of imperfection. By embracing failure, you make sure that you don’t become a failure.

So, how has a fear of failure impacted your world? Are you stifled by a fear of failure, or do you press through the pain (real or perceived) and continually move toward success? How have you mustered the courage to “get back on the horse” after a failure or two (or seven)? I would love to hear your story!

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Brent Beshore
Brent Beshore is serial entrepreneur & owner of AdVentures (#28 on 2011 Inc. 500)

He blogs on Entrepreneurship & serves Startups, including a Digital Talent Agency
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog

Image Sources: pictures.deadlycomputer.com, static.zoovy.com, news.bbc.co.uk

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