Confidence in the Uncomfortable
How a childhood memory sparked my passion
I am standing on one of our black kitchen table chairs. Too young and too short to reach the stove without it. The chair wobbles as I stir the pot with the wooden spoon. Handle smooth from years of use, spoon head coated in goopy flour. The smell of salt, flour, and water cooking. When I open a new container of Playdough I am brought back to this moment every time. Making playdough is my earliest food memory. It is fitting that the first of many things I ever cooked, was not exactly food. But a science experiment, that happened to be edible, fun, and affordable. That moment triggered something in me. It sparked my interest in food, science, and process. This moment ultimately led me to culinary school, hospitality, management, training, and consulting.
I thrived on that chair, the wobble always threatening to topple me. It shaped me, into a person that thrives on the verge, in places where others are uncomfortable. On that chair, I learned to take in my surrounding and focus on the goal. I learned the importance of following the science, and understanding where you could go off the recipe. I learned the art of adaptability, passion, success, creativity, and the fulfillment of completing a creation.
As a restaurant manager, I was taught the science of leadership and customer service by some of the best in the business. Marriott’s people passion, Nordstrom’s legendary customer service to Panera Bread’s industry-setting standards. Leaning on behavioral science to develop outstanding teams, food science to serve safe food, and process discipline to repeat excellence over and over. This led to learning and development internal consulting work. Working with managers to help them develop their unique abilities. At the same time tasked with improving the operational inefficiencies of over 100 restaurants. Connecting with a wide variety of shapes and styles of leaders. Finding immense enjoyment while working cross-functionally with support staff, operations, IT departments, regional leaders, and restaurant managers of all levels. This required a depth of knowledge and attention to detail. To create solutions that were creative, simple, and compelling to match the organizations’ recipe for success with the individuals’ preferences. Knowing when to go off the recipe and being confident in the uncomfortable was key.
Keep reading below to learn about my career development, or head over to the portfolio page to learn more about how I work.
In the Margins
As a manager working for Nordstrom and Panera Bread. My job was to ensure teams of people from 5am to 11pm were all brand ambassadors from welcome to thank you for coming. The specifics of operating, serving safe food, preparing a budget, and writing a schedule are scientifically defined. Leadership, getting 50 or 60 employees to all care, that is a very undefined artistic space. It requires a lot of notes in the margin. Learning about the associates their motivations and getting them to connect with the brand. It takes a lot of original and creative thinking. Add to this menus that would change six or more times a year, also very defined. Change was and still is the name of the game. I learned how to be comfortable with change, how to champion and get others to buy-in, and grew to love developing others.
I moved from single-unit leadership to a multi-unit training and development role. Serving as an expert internal consultant to multi-unit leaders, all levels of single unit leadership, area leaders, and corporate support staff in operations, IT, and training and development. I ensconed myself fully in the margins, and LOVE it.
On Learning and the Margins
People remember things in all different kinds of ways. Scent memory, like the one I have for playdough, is just one way. Some people have picture-perfect memories and can see information as if it is a picture living in their mind. Others can read and recite back instantly. Me, I need a physical connection with information to remember it. A kinesthetic learner, I have always learned best by jumping in and learning on-the-job and writing or typing to remember. Writing notes in the margin to help remember key points, or notate ideas to think about for later.
Reach out today to connect with me.