Posts Tagged ‘Brain Pickings’

  • All that Is New Is Old: Celebrating Vintage and Resilience

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    “The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.” — Aldous Huxley.

    I was struck , today, by the incongruence of three recent articles: two about the sadness of losing, in one case, and the shrinking of, in another, two highly successful, beloved, media institutions, and a third celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago.

    Our loss of the venerable, weekly Life magazine, was a salient point in the NY Times obituary of Life’s last Managing Editor, Ralph Graves. The obit hails Graves’ valiant efforts to keep this American institution afloat in its turbulent final years.

    “Life,” the obituary notes, “was one of a number of general-interest magazines — among the others were Look and The Saturday Evening Post — that both informed and entertained large numbers of Americans throughout the 1940s and ’50s.

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    Life, in particular, with its emphasis on photography, was said to be the country’s chief source for learning what the world looked like.” Until the advent of TV…

    Another headline, PBS News Hour Facing Cutbacks, Layoffs and Office Closings, mournfully reminds us of the rapidly shrinking halcyon days of in-depth news coverage.

    Then, thank heavens, Maria Popova’s, weekly edition of Brain Pickings popped up in my in-box. Popova’s celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago assures us that all that is new in modern start-ups definitely has roots in all that is old. Positively music to the ears of this 60+ start-up entrepreneur!

    Popova covers everything from Voltaire’s status updates to Edison’s viral videos, including what Diderot has to do with data visualization as she notes, “We’ve previously made the case that everything builds on what came before yet our human tendency is to inflate and overestimate the novelty of our ideas. Today, we turn to five concepts from the centuries of yore remarkably similar to the central premises of five of today’s social web darlings [Twitter, Facebook, Quora, YouTube, and Tumblr].”

    Popova’s insights are, as always, brilliant in their clarity. I’d only add one more “modern darling,” infographics. In another illuminating posting, The Lives of 10 Famous Painters Visualized  as Minimalist Infographic Biographies, Popova visually distills the lives of artists, Pollock, Dalí, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, Mondrian, Klee, Boccioni, Kandinsky, and Miro, in modern infographics!

    We never stop learning. The format may be completely different, but our curiosity never changes.

    Vintage is vintage and Resilience is key!

  • How Celebrity Chef and Cookbook Author, Thomas Keller, Parlayed His Dishwashing Days into a Culinary Empire

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    I had just read another of Maria Popova’s fabulous Brain Pickings blog posts – this one on How To Find Meaningful Work or, as she says,  “The art-science of allowing the various petals of our identity to fully unfold,” when I saw this video of Thomas Keller addressing a packed auditorium of Stanford Business School students about how he attributes the lessons he learned as a dishwasher to his success.

    Keller’s mother managed several restaurants and, as a young boy he spent a lot of hours in those restaurants, beginning as a dishwasher. He says that early experience was formative because, as a dishwasher, he needed to be:

    1. Organized, efficient, attentive to detail. How he loaded the machine counted as much as how he unloaded it: the dishes, glasses and silverware had to be loaded a certain way to get them cleanest and unloaded efficiently. Feedback was instantaneous: things were either clean or not, and he could not afford for them not to be clean on his watch.

    2. Part of a team: everyone relied on him to get their plates, glasses and silverware clean. 

    3. Aware of rituals: loading the washer, emptying it, or sweeping the floor – everything had to be done at a certain time. He equates this today to every aspect of a meal needing to be done at a certain time for the whole to come together.

    4. Purposefully repetitive. He perfected his skills as a dishwasher by doing it over and over again, just as a chef perfects slicing onions by slicing them over and over again.

    Today, Thomas Keller’s culinary empire includes four restaurants and a bakery, cookbooks, wines, a line with Williams Sonoma and now Cup4Cup a Gluten free flour business.  Keller is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings by the Michelin Guide.

    The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group is made up of a family of restaurants that range from the gastronomic experiences of The French Laundry, which actually was a French Steam Laundry dating back to the 1920’s, in Yountville, California and Per Se in New York City to the more relaxed atmosphere of Bouchon Bistro, the family style dishes of Ad Hoc, and the exquisite sweets you’ll discover at Bouchon Bakery.  Each are bound by Keller’s passion to nourish and to provide memorable experiences for every guest that visits.

    To quantify these experiences specifically:

    Gift Cards for French Laundry in Yountville, Ca or Per Se in New York City range from:  Silver at $750-800; Gold at $1550; and Black at $2500 – thankfully each card is for two!

    Ad Hoc, also in Yountville has gift cards from $58 per person.

    Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, with added locations in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, from $31 per person per gift.

     

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     I’d say, Keller definitely found what Popov describes as meaningful work by “allowing the petals of his identity to unfold!”

     

     

     

     

     


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