I love a detailed business biography and Danny Meyer’s Setting The Table does not disappoint. While his stated audience is businesspeople who want to learn about hospitality, the lessons to general career planning abound:
He has $350k of his own money from stock earned working in a completely different industry (payroll of all things) and puts it into a restaurant at age 27 — score one for translating initial careers to later on in life;
He spends months trying different restaurants in small towns across France and Italy, taking copious notes every time — score one for research;
He cultivates mentors from other restaurants and businesses that he admires — score one for knowing when and how to seek help;
He finds creative ways to support the community and make money — score one for aligning values with work.
The anecdotes from the restaurant world are equally fun: Salt shaker in the center of an empty table? I am instantly reminded that life throws us off kilter, and it’s our job to get back to center. (The salt shaker image is a story in Danny’s book, and my above paraphrase is the lesson he eloquently tells and freely credits to a mentor).
The business lessons are numerous: 51 percenter is a great hook to encapsulate how to hire.
Danny Meyer’s Setting The Table is a breezy read for someone who is a foodie: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Tabla, Eleven Madison Park, Shake Shack, the MOMA cafes, Blue Smoke are all Danny Meyer restaurants. I am not even a foodie, and I recognize these places.
At the same time, the book teaches, motivates, and inspires. As you plan your career and/or grow a business, it’s always good to read what other people have done and not reinvent the wheel. Meyer shares very openly and articulately. This is a must-read. How soon can I get a table at Blue Smoke — research purposes, of course!