Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Definitely Delicious

This weekend I indulged in my current read - Setting the Table - The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. The author, Danny Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, or differently put, the brain child of several outstanding restaurants in NYC, Grammery Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Eleven Madison Park just to name a few.

As I sat on my couch reading, much of his verbiage was as delicious as reading Julia Child's My Life in France, or Jacques Pépin's The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. His description of finocchiona (fennel-flecked salami), eggs daffodil, or spaghetti alla puttanesca is likely to stoke even the most picky of appetites, but for me, there is an element of his book even more delicious than this.

For me, the biggest quintessential yum factor is his observant take on human behavior and what he calls the "51 percent solution" - an individual comprising emotional hospitality. Danny Meyer uses this mindframe when hiring his employees knowing that in hospitality and the restaurant business, his people are his best differentiating factor from other establishments.

5 Core Emotional Skills -> Emotional Hospitality

1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full)
2. Intelligence (not just "smarts" but rather an insatiable curiosity for learning for the sake of learning)
3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done)
4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)
5. Self-awareness and integrity (an understanding of what makes you tick and a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgement)

These qualities can aid in the make or break of a fine dining establishment. But Danny Meyer surely doesn't limit the success of this type of individual to the confines of merely "good eats."

(picture compliments of Meghan Petersen, WSJ)

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