I love cooking breakfast. In fact my first career was as a line cook in a breakfast and lunch restaurant in Mountain View, California. I was the weekend cook, flipping eggs, folding omelets, whipping up scrambles, tending the hash browns, and the bacon and sausage. It didn’t seem too glamorous, but for some reason I loved it. I loved the excitement of the rush; seeing a line of people out the door, the waiters and waitresses scrambling to seat everyone, get them their coffee, and take their orders. At this time the kitchen was calm and I would revel in anticipation of the fast-moving ballet of team dynamics to come. While we would crank out plate after plate of food, there was almost no conversation, no time for breathers, just a continuous dance of minimized movements, efficient timing, and a balance of aggressive and delicate treatment of our culinary offerings.
In particular, I love cooking eggs, and still do. In fact once per year on Fathers Day I get to cook eggs for some 80 to 100 people at the Journeymen Father’s Day Huevos Rancheros brunch, which by the way I would encourage all my Asheville area peeps to attend (details here). But, I digress.
How many of us truly know how we like our eggs? I mean when we order our eggs over medium, but they come hard as a rock, or with the whites a little runny, which is our true preference? If we order our eggs poached, what does that really mean? Should poached eggs be hard or soft? How soft? What about scrambled eggs? Should they be slightly running, fluffy or hard? Most importantly, with all the options of how eggs can be cooked, do we know precisely what the perfect egg is for us?
So when Maria and I got together some four and a half years ago and I started cooking eggs for her, naturally I asked how she likes her eggs? She said something like, “I don’t know, how do you like them?” To which I responded, “Over medium.” Then she said, “That sounds good, I’ll have mine over medium.” So for more than four years I’ve been serving her over medium eggs—the whites fully cooked and the yokes mostly runny.
Then one day I was momentarily distracted and overcooked her eggs and apologized to her for doing so. She said, no problem she would eat them all the same. Then there we were eating our eggs—Maria her well past over medium eggs—and she noticed that she liked her eggs better that way. So then I began serving her over well eggs, and after a few weeks of eating over well eggs she looked over at my plate and noticed that she liked the way my eggs looked and said she felt that my eggs looked more to her liking. Well, after I explained that my eggs were cooked over medium, and by the time she noticed them I had absorbed most of the runny yoke with my toast, we came to the conclusion that what Maria really likes is eggs over medium-well—just at the point in between over medium and over well in which there is just a little bit of runny yoke, but the yoke is mostly cooked.
So there it is. After four and a half years of marriage I have just discovered how my wife likes her eggs and can now cook them for her precisely to her liking. In the world of mass thinking that Seth Godin so aptly writes about there is a tendency to go with the flow and convince ourselves that we like what other people like. Doing so means we don’t have to make waves or seem like a fussy pants, and we don’t have to think too hard about what we really desire. But, isn’t the world far more interesting when we all search for and discover our uniqueness, and then bring it forward in the world?
It seems to me that by celebrating our uniqueness that we not only make the world a far more interesting place, but we also find greater happiness and fulfillment in our lives. So too with business, by creating unique and interesting products and services we transcend the mass market approach and become far more appealing to a smaller number of people—the people who matter to us.