The lesson I learned from a Boston restaurant owner
The other day, I was pondering, actually, the better term is self-pity about how my Boston real estate apartment rentals were off this summer. To get out of my funk I took a bike ride and after an hour or so I stopped and grabbed a burger at Castle Island before heading back.
It as a small restaurant, the owner ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The customer and staff were happy, with the owner.
For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.
Most folks assumed it was because they ran a successful business.
Even before COVID-19, the business profits were dwindling.
But the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!
The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like this crisis. What never changed however was the owner’s attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!
Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.
Anyhow, Business Is Great! badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:
- The pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
- The reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
- The fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
- The fascination in the work itself, and in the other people’s work and businesses
- The great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
- The new things you learn every day – even without looking to do so
- And the thought that everyone in the business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.
And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was because of COVID-19 impact on their life, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.
It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
“The badge came first. The great business followed.”