Something more: A lesson from Chef’s Table

My wife, Julie and I recently happened upon the Netflix series, Chef’s Table. Each episode features one of the world’s most successful chefs, digging into the background story and finding out what drives the person.

We are late to the game. We watched the last episode of Season 2, but as of the date of this post, there are already three complete series on Netflix. If you are unfamiliar with Chef’s Table, get inspired by the trailer for Season 2:

Since that first episode, we have since watched three or four others and love the series even though our approach to cooking is completely different.

Julie is a terrific cook and is constantly coming up with new dishes that are as healthy as they are delicious. She writes a blog called Health Continuum that has dozens of great recipes. Julie is regular contributor to One Green Planet and has been featured in the print edition of Thrive magazine in the United Kingdom.

Below are just four of Julie’s recipes that I love. The photos were all shot by Julie and the links to each recipe are below. As someone who has eaten everything that is on her blog, I can vouch for how good the food is. Check it out!

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  1. The best olive dip ever
  2. A hearty bok choy soup
  3. A tasty black bean, quinoa and walnut loaf
  4. An unbelievable carrot walnut date cake

I, on the other hand, am not a cook. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. When my daughters were younger and people would ask whether I cooked, they usually replied along the lines of “Dad can make toast and eggs. And sometimes spaghetti sauce. From a jar.” That pretty much sums it up. My strong suit in the kitchen is washing up.

But even though I do not enjoy cooking the way some people do, I have enormous respect for those who can cook well. It is both an art and a science, and I like seeing (and tasting) it done well. Hence my appreciation for Chef’s Table.

The first episode that we watched featured Gaggan Anand, the No. 1 chef in Asia. Gaggan, who is generally referred to by his first name, comes from a very humble and difficult beginning in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

I won’t go into the details of Gaggan’s inspiring life story here, but in 2010, he opened his eponymous restaurant, Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, it was named both the best restaurant in Thailand, and Asia’s best restaurant on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants as reported by Restaurant magazine. In 2017, it was named the 7th best restaurant in the world.

Gaggan describes his cooking as progressive Indian cuisine. On his website, he sets out his philosophy on what it means to be progressive:

  1. Moving forward, advancing
  2. Happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step
  3. Using or interested in new or modern ideas

It hasn’t been easy for him. Gaggan faced many challenges with his repeated attempts to disrupt traditional Indian cuisine. People told him that trying to change traditional Indian food was a mad idea. They wanted their curries and their chicken tikka masala.

Although Gaggan loves traditional Indian cuisine and used to include it on his menu, most of the food he prepared was new and innovative and audacious. Gaggan wanted to cook what he wanted to cook and his daring has paid off.

Going forward, he has promised to become even more aggressive and says that he will have an even bigger appetite for the “destruction” of traditional Indian cuisine. Indeed, near the end of the documentary, Gaggan has his staff assemble in the restaurant and announces that that week will be the last week for many dishes. “No more curries! No more chicken tikka masala! No more naan breads!” he says with conviction.

To change a menu that is working extremely well and try something new is a bold move indeed. It requires courage and conviction. But Gaggan has plenty of both. And he is not satisfied with sitting still. He wants to be better. He wants to improve. He wants to stretch the boundaries of his creativity. As Gaggan says,

For those traditionalists who don’t want to eat progressive cuisine, we had chicken tikka masala as a comfort pillow. And now, I won’t cook chicken tikka masala. It’s about having the confidence to do what you want to do [instead of] what a guest wants you to do.

Indeed, Gaggan is so focused on being innovative, that he is closing Gaggan in 2020. He believes that every restaurant “… has a 10-year life span nowadays, otherwise it becomes very predictable and I hate to be predictable.”

Gaggan Anand

This is a great philosophy that can be applied to so  many aspects of one’s life. If you are not living at the edge of your comfort zone, if you are not willing to try new things—things that might not work—you are not growing.

It should be the same way with your presentations. They should be relevant for your audiences, of course, but who says they have to be the same every single time? Who says they cannot be innovative? Who says it has to be business as usual?

When was the last time you changed your approach to presenting? When was the last time you were creative? When was the last time you:

  • changed your title slide
  • changed your final slide
  • presented without using any slides at all
  • told a story
  • told a different story
  • engaged the audience with an interactive exercise
  • used humour
  • talked about one of your failures and what you learned from it
  • took an unpopular stand on an issue
  • spoke to a new audience

When was the last time you tried something new?

Gaggan’s philosophy of being innovative is something that is shared by the other chefs whom we have seen featured on Chef’s Table. Indeed, at 1:25 of the video at the beginning of this post, you can hear the following comments from two of the chefs:

You can’t be creative without being risky. Will you destroy yourself in the pursuit of doing something new?

It’s not just about food. It’s not just about a restaurant. It’s about something more.

Don’t give us the same old tired presentation. Give us something more.

Photos courtesy of eatatgaggan.com and healthcontinuum.org
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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 278) – Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn (1930 – 2009) American Entrepreneur, Author and Speaker

“Words do two major things. They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.”

— Jim Rohn

Photo courtesy of Ramine5677
Posted in Motivation, Quotes for Public Speakers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

12 ways to piss off your audience

Why make an effort for your audience when you can just piss them off?

Too difficult, you say? Not at all!

There are so many things you can do to anger, frustrate and confuse an audience. If you’re struggling for ideas, the 12 tips below—individually or in combination—are sure to do the trick.

1.  Talk about something completely off point. Why speak about something relevant to the audience when there are so many other things to discuss? Just go on Google. There are millions of things to talk about.

2.  Don’t prepare. Who says you have to prepare? Just show up and wing it.

3.  Arrive late. It’s dramatic and it makes a statement. You’re busy and you’re going to make sure that people adjust to your schedule.

4.  Use crappy slides. Lots of them. If you need guidelines, these should do:

  • Only text. No images.
  • At least 60 words per slide. Bonus points for every slide with more than 75 words.
  • Small font. Nothing over 16 point.
  • Feature your business logo prominently on every damn slide.

5.  Talk fast. Pretend that you’re an auctioneer at some local fair. If anyone asks you to slow down, politely explain that you feel the need for speed. Alternatively, suggest that people listen faster. If you can also mumble, the effect is enhanced.

6.  Talk about yourself and your accomplishments and stress how wonderful you are. You are wonderful and people should know. Do this for an extended period of time.

7.  Use lots of acronyms and obscure references and assume that everyone knows what you are talking about.

8.  Don’t look at the audience. There are so many other things to see: the floor; your shoes; your hands; the ceiling; your slides (see Point 4 above); whatever is outside the window.

9.  Maintain a closed body language. Cross your arms, put your hands in you pockets or just hug yourself. Scowling enhances the effect.

10.  Go over time. A good rule of thumb is that for every 15 minutes you are allotted, you should speak for at least five extra minutes. Thus, if you have one hour to speak, speak for one hour and 20 minutes. Minimum.

11.  If there is a Q&A and someone asks a silly question, mock them.

12.  If you promise to do something after you speak, don’t follow up. Ever. You’re too busy (see Point 3 above) and besides, you have to get ready for your next audience.

Yes, if you want to piss off your audience, the 12 tips above will work wonders.

Then again, perhaps making an effort isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 277) – Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett – American Businessman, Investor and Philanthropist

“If you can’t communicate and talk to people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”

— Warren Buffett

Photo courtesy of Fortune Live Media
Posted in Motivation, Quotes for Public Speakers | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

1,000 downloads!

Very pleased to share with you that Florian Mueck and I have hit 1,000 downloads of the app version of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™.

RHETORIC it is the world’s first public speaking board game. Florian and I created it a few years back. The game began as a physical board game. We then went digital with launch of the app, followed by several upgrades.

Players can play different themes (Classic, Business and Family) and in different languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, German and Catalan). More themes and languages will be added.

People are playing RHETORIC in homes, businesses, schools and organizations around the world.

“Challenging and fun!”

“Fantastic for improving my speaking skills!”

“What a great way to spend an hour or two!”

These are just a few of the comments that we have received.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has played.

If you would like to find out more about the app, visit our website or click on the icon of your favourite app provider below.

Now, it’s your turn to speak.

Posted in Rhetoric - The Public Speaking Game | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments