BlogBlogLessons From NYC: #1 Do Something Different

Lessons From NYC: #1 Do Something Different

Lessons From NYC: #1 Do Something Different

America. The land of the free. The land of every thing that seems to be super sized. The land where a waffle is the size of your head. The burgers are bigger are bigger than your mouth. The buildings are bigger than sense and the land where people’s reactions are also super sized.

I sit in a gorgeous independent diner in NYC. To my shame I’ve never been to the US and I’m here to broaden my horizons. So when your body is still insisting you remain on UK time even though you’ve been awake 20hrs plus, you get up early and go get an American breakfast.

Jem orders waffles with bacon and syrup and I go for scrambled egg, Canadian bacon, potato and toast. Add possibly some of the worst tea I’ve ever drunk; (don’t worry, I know your thing is Coffee in the US, so that’s not a complaint) and some beautifully fresh pressed orange juice, completes our first American breakfast experience.

But as I sit and wait for our food, an American man comes in and plonks himself down in a booth looking generally quite ‘pissed off’ with life. He’s a business man. He’s dressed in what appears to be a cheap 90’s Classic, double breasted and slightly ill fitting suit. Brown polished shoes, a stripy blue shirt and uncomfortably coloured tie complete this power dressing free American.

Within seconds he’s looking around. Sighing louder than a child that’s been told he can’t have an ice cream. It seems he wants service faster than the people that are ahead of him. He bangs around and noisily slaps his daily paper on the table.

Thirty seconds later, our host has come over to the table and asked if he wants his usual.   He’s a small chap, with a broad smile, a well worn face and bouncing around like ‘Tigger’ from Winnie the Poo. Without looking at the happy-go-lucky Mexican owner, he mutters something and finishes the sentence with “Make it quick.” He hasn’t looked at him or even exchanged pleasantries. 

A minute later the owner reappears, with iced water, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. Again the gentlemen ignores his host. No eye contact, no acknowledgement, no nothing. But as the host turns to welcome another customer, the man smiles. When I say smile, it’s more of a smile from the cartoon character Dick Dastardly.

The customer was enjoying this. Was this a power trip?

Two minutes later we were served our food. And my God it was gorgeous. The owner served it to us himself. He took a minute to speak to the two young children and their Australian nanny that were sat behind us. He knew they’re names and asked them bout school. The kids must have only been 8 or 9 but the owner encouraged them to take school seriously and tell him what they’d learned when they come in for breakfast tomorrow.

All of a sudden the grumpy customer beckons a waitress across to his table and wants to know why his food has taken longer than five minutes to arrive. It’s at this point I knew there was a mood hoover in the diner. (A mood hoover is someone that we all know in business that a) lights up the room when they leave, b) says everything is a ‘nightmare’ no matter what the circumstances or c) has a problem for every solution. They are in every office and every workspace. Just take a minute and you’ll soon recognise one.)

The waitress politely smiled and said, “Hey, why do you do always do this? You know what we cook is from scratch and fresh. It’s being cooked as you like it, as we speak and there were at least 2 or 3 people ahead of you.”

“But I eat here every week. These people are just tourists and school kids. I have a job to go to.”

SO…you eat here every week? You know it’s cooked fresh from scratch. But yet you still treat the staff with contempt and demand preferential treatment because you have a job?

It would seem that this very important man needs a change. Not just for the staff of the diner, but also for himself. He may find it makes him ‘happier’ an potentially even better at his job. (The last bit might be a bit hard for some to swallow, but several studies have shown that happier people are more productive, effective and more likely to get a promotion than those that aren’t.  A review of 225 studies in the Pyschological Bulletin found that happiness doesn’t necessarily follow success, happiness leads to success. {Link Here} And in one study published by the Harvard Business Review, called ‘Laughing All the Way to the Bank’, Fabio Sala compared more than four decades of information and correlated that those that were happier and used humour more were more successful than those that didn’t.)

Reasons why you should change your routine:

If you always do the same thing you always get the same results. This is probably the most obvious, but also the least acted upon. Businesses and the people within them really do struggle to look for or adopt approaches to consistent problems, looking for a hammer when a scalpel would be the best way to deal with things.

The chemicals in your brain make it ‘light up’. Humans are curious things. We do so many things without thinking about them. Take walking as an example. When we learn to walk at an early age, we tend not to think about it again until we perhaps break our legs or worse and have to ‘learn to walk again’ in a different way. By changing the way in which you do something consciously your brain will release the right chemicals, recognising this is something new. A great example is how many times a week do you drive to work at exactly the same time, exactly the same route and park in roughly the same spot every day? So to ‘ignite’ your brain, why not try a different route or park a mile away from work and walk the last bit? It will feel different and get your brain working even before you sit behind your desk.

Changing things has a ripple effect. Now I don’t want you to go into work on Monday morning and shout at the top of your voice, “Don’t those weekends drag?”. You’ll have people throwing staplers and pens at you. Instead look at the working week days as exactly the same.  Monday’s should be just as good as Friday’s. Thursday’s as good as a Tuesday and celebrate a Wednesday. Nothing really happens on a Wednesday so it would be good to treat it differently. If you attack the days of the week consistently in a positive manner, so will others in the business. By one person changing something it could have an amazing effect on those around them.

As for that man in the Diner? Well he got his food. Slammed cutlery, sauces and coffee around the table a bit. Ate half of it. Then told the waitress to wrap the rest so he could take it with him. Paid and as he left the owner, smiled and said to him, “Have a great day at school today…”

Yes, that’s right. He was a school teacher.

I think he needs to change his career….


Be Brilliant,


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