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November 2010

Appetite for Success: Lessons in Leadership and Innovation From An Executive Chef

An avid "foodie", I decided to take a workshop at Bonnie Stern's famous cooking school in Toronto. The workshop presenter was acclaimed Niagara Executive Chef Mark Picone - owner of the Mark Picone Culinary Studio.

Besides coming away from the workshop with a newfound knowledge and appreciation of succulent dishes such as house cured duck prosciutto, sumac loin, elderberry pan jus and pawpaw gelato...I couldn't help but realize how excellence in the kitchen mirrors excellence in business.

The job of a professional chef isn't unlike that of a successful and innovative business leader. Here's why:

1) Synergy is important - you have to have the right ingredients at the right time, in the right amount to create the perfect dish

2)  Quality ingredients - the quality of the final dish depends on the quality of the ingredients you decide to put in the dish

3) To be innovative, once in a while you have to stir the pot and add a little something extra that perhaps you never tried before - the result may surprise you

4) Customize the menu for your audience to guarantee the best customer result

5) Put on a show to provide the best experience - and be sure to find an audience worth cooking for that values your product and expertise

In a world where conformity and conservative thought still seem to be the norm, taking a creative and integrative approach to business might help uncover new angles to overcoming everyday challenges. We all want to succeed - and sometimes the answers to our most pressing problems can be found by looking at what we thought might be unrelated professions or industries.

Food for thought that might fuel your appetite for success.

Where else can business leaders look for inspiration to help solve their key business challenges?