Learning how to find your voice in a cookbookHave you ever read a book that captured your attention, appeared to be written just for you and shared a personal roadmap to find your voice in your business?  Well, that’s exactly what I found  when I read a cookbook, of all things!  Let me share the book and my experience and tell me if this resonates with you, too.

I watched a segment on the CBS Saturday Morning show which showcased the ll Buco restaurant in New York. I was mesmerized and fell in love with everything about Il Buco.  In an instant, I hopped online and bought their freshly released cookbook:  Il Buco – Stories and Recipes.  While I have yet to try one of their recipes, I have devoured the stories!  Donna Lennard, who authors the book and is the proprietor of the restaurant, is a self-described “navigator, philosopher, creative director and talent scout.”

Lennard’s writing style is exquisite!  When she described her first love as “an unrelenting questioner and selfless listener,” – two characteristic I MOST admire and respect in a person – and her second love and business partner had “eyebrows as expressive as calligraphy, and a face lifted from a Caravaggio,” I was hooked and knew I was reading from a kindred spirit.  (I think I lived in Florence, Italy in a past life as deeply connected as I feel to that city and all things Renaissance.)  But I digress…

As she shared the creation process for the concept of Il Buco, she recognized what they were creating was an experience.

They wanted “Il Buco to be so welcoming our customers couldn’t bear to leave and, if they did, they’d take a little bit of Il Buco with them.”  In creating the place, they “just did what felt right.”  By following their heart and intuition, they ultimately created something beyond their dreams and expectation. They soon discovered they were the “connecting thread” in their community as a “trading post of crafts, cultures, ideas, food, and wine.”

Over the years of remaining committed to follow their vision and letting the magic unfold, Lennard discovered her own voice and learned how to trust her instincts.

The philosophy for the restaurant has remained unchanged – source the best prime materials and “do the least possible to create the best results” translated to: let the ingredients speak for themselves.

The philosophy requires a highly refined skill set from their chefs.  They need to be a “product whisperer who possess the knowledge and restraint needed to extract from each raw ingredient its most delicious essence.  The approach is as simple as it is unforgiving.”

In her talent scout role, she finds chefs who are most aligned with Il Buco’s philosophies.  Then she spends the first several months “tethered to the kitchen” with the new chef to impart her wisdom.  Once the chefs are ready, she backs away and her role changes to “a sounding board for their ideas, they blossom, and Il Buco evolves in inexplicable ways.  This collaboration is [her] deepest joy.”

Using her voice and following her instincts has led to long-term, enviable results.

The restaurant has been delighting customers for twenty-five years, which is very rare in the restaurant industry. She acknowledged that they built their foundation while being guided by a feeling and honoring it. After all those years honing her craft, she admits, “Now what’s right for Il Buco is as natural to me as breathing.  It’s a voice I learned to listen to a long time ago.  Like a character in a novel, the spirit of the restaurant guides me more than I guide it.  Nothing’s been analyzed.  Nothings intellectualized.  It hasn’t always been an easy road, but it’s been a true one. … Ultimately it has brought me to myself.”

Within the book, she shares everything that Il Buco taught her: “It’s a book about learning to listen to that voice inside you, letting you know exactly who you are, and connecting you with people and cultures that inspire you.  It is a celebration of life.”

As an entrepreneur for twenty years and a committed dream follower, I hung on every word.

Let me ask all my entrepreneurial friends out there about your philosophies, your voice and your vision:

Do you have this level of clarity about your business?

Are you selling products or services, or are you delivering an experience leaving your customers clamoring for more?

Do you have a philosophy for your business that guides every aspect of the experience that you tirelessly honor?

Do you bring in and train the very best employees who excel in their craft and then set them free to bring their full talents to the table in full alignment with your philosophies?

Do you know your role in the organization?

Have you found your unique voice and do you have the courage to unabashedly use it?

When you pull the relevant pieces together, honor them, hone them and share them, you create an experience that is unique to you.

In the process, you attract those clients you intend to entice and leave them in a better place than before they met you.   After all, isn’t that what we want as business owners?

While I’m sure I’ll eventually enjoy the recipes, I am savoring the life and entrepreneurship lessons shared by a kindred spirit who knows how to deeply live life in a meaningful way, impact the lives of those she touches and unabashedly use her voice to spread her message.  That’s pure magic.

How do you create a unique experience for your customers, friends or loved ones? Share in a comment below and inspire us into action!

Carpe Diem!


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Joan Jakel

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