i just followed the recipe

Now that it’s January, affirmations begin…. or are continuing, depending on your angle.  I ‘ve always found it hard to follow New Year’s resolutions. It’s like creating a recipe for life success.  One that will bring you love, good health, success and happiness mixed with the feeling of accomplishment.  Whether it’s easy, or difficult, staying on the path isn’t my strong suit.  Typically I need my girl Friday to keep me on track.  Left to my own devices, my mind tends to wander.  Sure, I start out strong, with goals and lists, plans and schedules.  Yet sometime around March, I find my intensity waning.  The luster of staying on the path, has lost it’s shine, and I’m drawn to the rabbit hole of netflix binges, too much caffeine, and off kilter sleep patterns.  Sure, I want to see results, be they big or small, but I’m a sucker for instant gratification.  Now that winter has shown it’s snowy frigid face,  I haven’t even started.  I find myself already being drawn to the glow of the computer and not to do anything considered productive, or cooking up a storm to battle the freezing temps outside.

Back in December at least I had the ‘excuse’ of the holidays, and adapting to a new work life.  One with enormous potential (opening a restaurant) and goals were swimming in my head:  Start a company, fill out paperwork to establish an LLC.  Make appointments to look at potential spaces and google census reports of particular neighborhoods that had a need for a homey pizza place that I could call my second home. ( Have you ever read census reports?  They are very boring and not very shiny.)

Now, come January, I’m having a hard time finding my footing.  Each step seems enormous and impossible to take.  That’s when I realize this pattern of mine, big goals luring me in with promises of success, and feeling whole once again, only to realize that there is no finish line.  No end. And suddenly, those plans feel insurmountable.  I start to feel a circle of thought that feels like defeat.  You know, that train of thought? You start to think of all that needs to be done, how much money each checkpoint will cost, how as soon as one thing is ‘complete’ there’s ten more waiting in the wings for attention, that leads to more plans, more paperwork, time and money.  My time and my money.  My time.  I’m not ready to give up my time!  I just started to feel like a person who gets eight hours of sleep!  I don’t want to be on the endless spin cycle, do I?  And so, I stop.  I avoid, I procrastinate.  It’s all so big, and hard, because I don’t really know what I’m doing yet. I begin to feel incompetent and question my abilities.  Maybe I don’t have enough drive?  Maybe it’s fear? Or, maybe I really can’t do it?  Can’t.  See, I’m already relinquishing my control with just one word.  Where is my girl Friday?!

Following a recipe though, that’s easy, and very gratifying….recipes have a plan and there’s a beautiful picture that shows me exactly what I’m making.  ( I tend to not pay attention to recipes that have no pictures.  I know there’s lots of amazing recipes out there that don’t have pictures, but I can’t bring myself to make them, I just want to know where I’m headed, I’m a very visual learner.  Jaques Pepin’s, La Technique, is the best example I can think of.  It’s all pictures.  Pictures, of EVERY step.  It must have cost a fortune to publish!)  Recipes have an ingredients list, so I know exactly what I need to have on hand in order to produce this beautiful picture.   And there’s steps!  Little ones, that each lead me closer and closer to the finish line, and after about an hour (depending on the recipe, this time estimate may be cut in half, unless you’re cooking in high altitude, in which case it should be doubled.) I have something tasty and delicious to share with others. They give me feedback.  We share, and there’s that feeling of connection.  It’s a great way to gain perspective.  Now, see that wasn’t hard at all.  Here’s where I let you in on a little secret…. follow my train of thought here, there are no bad cooks, simply bad recipes.  I mean, if you have a great recipe, and follow it, you will succeed! Or at least that’s how I think.  If a recipe produces an unsuccessful outcome,  it wasn’t me or my abilities, or lack thereof.  It simply was never going to work out.  The picture made promises it couldn’t keep.  It was the Ikea bookshelf instructions missing two very important steps, and an Allen wrench.

So, really, all I need to do is find the best recipe and follow it to achieve the results I have pictured in my head.  Great! I know what I need to do! All my procrastinating can end!   Too bad that reality doesn’t really exist.  Sure there’s recipes, directions, and plans that map out the course of beginning a business.  The SBA.gov website has them all, categorized and proficient.  Except, there’s the matter of taste or preference, and decision making that can only come from the owner….me.  I have to decide what makes sense for me and my business.  I have to weigh in on the order of things, and the ingredients list, and measurements.  I have to write the recipe.

I’ve written lots of recipes.  It’s actually not that hard, I simply find a recipe I like and change it to meet my tastes and expectations.  After testing it over and over, and maybe over again, I adapt, edit and publish. That’s right, when writing a good recipe it helps to have a good recipe model. And when starting a business it’s good to have a good business model.  One that fits the profile of the business you are creating.  Then you simply adapt, edit and publish, and wait for the people to speak.

So that’s where I’m at.  I can think of a number of restaurants I enjoy, Floriole, Cellar Door Provisions, Blackbird, Smalls BBQ, Nomi, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Chicago Kalbi, Tortas Frontera at both terminals in O’Hare Airport ( yes, I listed airport food, but it’s great food that just happens to be in an airport, locationlocationlocation), and that’s just off the top of my head. What about you?  I’m curious about other perspectives.  What is a business model that you’ve experienced and like. It doesn’t have to be a pizza place, or even a restaurant.  Whether it’s their service, website, location, menu, or managing style, tell me about it.


2 thoughts on “i just followed the recipe

  1. Maybe it’s time to find a partner who understands the business side of things and can help with site selection, LLC incorporation, permits, the buildout, etc? Something like what Stephanie Izard did with the Boka group?

    We are dying to have your pizza back in our lives, but they were at a price point where you might not have a ton of volume. You need to find a way to make a basic pizza at around a $15 dollar price point to get people in the door. Alcohol will also be key. I imagine you should focus your location search near Floriole, in order to tap into your existing customer base. Certainly, I wouldn’t look outside of Lincoln Park; the demographics of the area are a good fit.

    Maybe you can just start a business where come to my house once a month and bake me a pizza?


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