Stephanie Izard won Top Chef in the fourth season of the show. I
remember watching and thinking she was a cool customer- calm under pressure, creative, team player, communicative, fierce competitor. She was the first woman to win the competition. I am an avowed foodie who loves to cook, so when I met Stephanie this past weekend at a business gathering in Chicago I hoped to glean some insights around food. But in her address to her audience she didn’t talk about any of the things I would expect to hear from a chef—stuff about passion and creativity and dedication to your craft. This woman, who owns three successful restaurants said: If you want to be win in business, listen to your advisors.
She had already won me over with her braised lamb, her delightful personality and her funny stories. But this talk sent god-rays into the room and a choir started singing somewhere. Business people—and especially creatives who are business people—usually have so much trouble with this concept. They are mavericks, outside-the-box thinkers, they’re hinging their success on the idea that they can do something so new that it will override all the noise and make their enterprise wildly successful. And many of them think that means they have to disregard everything that has come before that might constrain them. They have to throw out hundreds of years of collective wisdom on how to deal with employees and regulations and money.
Stephanie Izard is anything but a stuffed shirt. She’s fun, passionate about food, explores the world for new recipes and flavor combinations. She’s given her restaurants whimsical names like “Girl and Goat” and “Duck Duck Goat” because Izard is the name of a mountain goat. She’s hardly rule-bound. But she knows that she knows her stuff when it comes to cooking. And she doesn’t make the mistake of believing that automatically equips her to run a business. She’s the expert in the kitchen and she trusts other people to be the expert in their fields. It was so refreshing.
Everybody in business has advisors: financial advisors, marketing advisors, HR advisors, leadership coaches, business coaches. You can’t know everything if you hope to be really great at what you do know. What’s the expression…Jack of all trades and master of none? I have advisors who I listen to and it baffles me when that idea is anathema to my clients.
Of course, she found the experts she trusted: a business partner who knew the business side, business bankers and others who understood her and what she was trying to accomplish. They advised her on strategies to get there. They didn’t tell her not to take risks. They didn’t tell her to accept failure or to cook predictable food that would appeal to the masses. They helped her avoid unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming mistakes that would have endangered her vision. They gave her ideas that helped her succeed faster. That’s what advisors, consultants and experts are supposed to do. I’ve written about this a lot.
So if you ever really want some great food while you’re in Chicago, check out Stephanie Izard’s restaurants. And if you want some great HR advice from people who believe we’re in it to help you reach your goals, call us!
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.