My favorite hobby is cooking
It all started when I got really into it on accident as an escape from my anxiety. The rote cutting of vegetables, simmering a sauce while checking whatever was in the oven. The multi tasking, laser focus on what’s right in front of you, and physical work to bring a meal together forced me into the moment and was an escape for me when I didn’t really understand or have a good handle on what was going on with what ultimately ended up being an un-diagnosed anxiety and panic disorder.
When you’re in the kitchen one of the things you learn very quickly is that in order to orchestrate a beautiful meal you need to have things lined up ready to go. The difference between a spectacular feast and a piece of unflavored rubber is 1-2 minutes in some cases. In the world of professional chefs, lining all your ingredients up in pre-measured amounts is known as Mise En Place (French for “everything in its place”). This allows you to have everything ready to go to maximize your time when the actual cooking is happening rather than trying to frantically chop a shallot while your pancetta is burning.
One thing I’ve struggled with in the past with marketing is this constant feeling of being a firefighter rather than a farmer.
What do I mean?
Rather than being able to invest time into long term projects and watching them grow (like a farmer), I’ve felt in the past that I have to run around attending to the disaster of the day or execute on some random new initiative to try and hit an aggressive KPI (like a firefighter). To some degree that’s just a part of the job. There’s always *something* more a marketer can be doing and when the growth of the company, in large part, comes down to your performance there’s a lot of pressure.
A lot of it though is that I, and many other marketers, are frankly just disorganized.
A professional kitchen is a very high pressure environment where people have to move very quickly and execute perfectly not once, but dozens of times in a single night. When you take a look at the military level of precision they have to have you see how they’re able to take and perfect process to the degree that they do you realize just how much is possible. Ultimately, by looking at a restaurant back of house I realized its not a trade off between farming and firefighting, but rather building processes that allow you to not only be bother but 10x at each role.
My learning haven’t stopped there though. There’s a lot more parallels to the world of professional cooking and marketing, and an equally large number of lessons that can be drawn.
-Set a menu and execute it really well. Basically, decide your strategy and stick to it. When you do everything custom every time or go off on wild goose chases you’re going to be super inefficient, far more inefficient than any growth hack you may glean from such an adventure.
-Utilize Mise En Place. When it’s time to execute on whatever dish (marketing strategy) you’ve decided on, make sure your tactics are lined up to be well executed. I use airtable to setup ad creative and define audiences etc. for things like Facebook ads. All my tasks are setup with due dates and subtasks in Asana. This saves such an incredible amount of time.
-Be great at one thing. Not mediocre at everything. What’s the best taco place in your city? Best pizza place? Now what’s the best place that serves, tacos, and pizza, and fried chicken? The top 1% of marketers in any discipline reap disproportional rewards as compared to others and you should usually strive to go deep rather than wide especially if you’re a 1 person show.
Ultimately, any services business where you have a client and it’s a creative process to some degree you’re going to have similarities. Marketing and cooking have a ton of overlaps. In general, I think it’s useful to see what another industry is doing to learn and apply it to your own. What other industries could marketers learn from?