The recent release of the very first San Francisco Bay Area Michelin Guide recalled Alan Ducasse and my admiration for him. Currently Ducasse is the only chef in the world to own and operate three signature restaurants each honored with three Michelin stars.
What really impressed me is he strikes me someone whom lives life to the hilt. No, not speaking about life balance (yech). Rather full - not frenzied, not stressed. Embodying: "Wherever you are, be there totally."
"Even if he appears...to be a very busy man who has clocked up hundreds of flying hours between Monte-Carlo [sic] and Paris, and Singapore and New York, he always takes the time to taste: a new Italian olive oil, a Lebanese cheese rolled in pepper, a leavened bread, or a wild strawberry, for ever [sic] sharpening his senses and his savoir-faire." - Alain Ducasse official biography, via "Turbot Without Genius: The Travails of Alain Ducasse", Caffeine Destiny online magazine (great profile of Ducasse, highly recommend)
In 1984, Ducasse survived a near-fatal plane crash that killed a number of his companions. I can speculate that the scepter of death enhanced his appreciation for life and the deathless. Knowing that winter is around the corner makes the harvest festivals that much more convivial and zesty. Pass the bread with a hearty laugh, pass the wine down the table. This day, this day, this moment, this morsel, this sip...
"I always determine the sexual capabilities of a woman by the way she eats fruit. When testing a potential bedmate, I offer her an apple or pear to see how she eats it. Small mincing bites - the ladylike kind - they are not good. But if she crunches the fruit, salivates with pleasure and crinkles her nose in enjoyment, this girl, my friend, should prove to be a redoubtable love partner." - poet Gabriele D'Annunzio in The Sex Life of Food: When Body and Soul Meet to Eat
Kathy Sierra beat me to a good marketer is like a good lover post that I half-promised as a series. And I've adroitly avoided writing about slow sex, too. Someone that enjoys that pear fully will redoubtably also plunge into life, plunge into business, plunge into sex, plunge without hesitation. They savor the time to know their customer because they enjoy everything thoroughly. In some ways, what can I say about slow sex? It comes down to sheer enjoyment and exuberance. People and food are by far the most glorious, curious things to explore and discover anew over and over again. Why rush through it?
Business is all about people - particularly marketing and sales. Yet for all my exuberance for people I've told myself repeatedly that "I don't want the hectic life that inevitably comes with being a 'successful' owner." I think that may explain why many many other women defer from the highest ranks and CEO status too.
"Men are afraid. They are in hiding. They are attached to values and attitudes that, for women, are peripheral... In close company with women they are caught between an image of themselves that is crumbling and an anxiety about joining woman in her freedom, her courage, her worldly intelligence, her sensorality," says Daniel Odier.
Yes, I nod. But then you read about Ducasse. And then you read about Len Evans. (Ricardo Semler also tops that list.) And I wonder if I've just bought into assumptions about how 'success' is be achieved and why.
And so I've mused: Do I chose a fulfilled life, or a fulfilled business....Why or? Why not and? Why not ingest: I imagine that yes is the only living thing (e e cummings).
Len Evans set the stage for the Australian wine industry by simply wanting people to "drink wine for the sheer fun of it." Sheer fun of it: that's exuberance.
"One summer evening 15 years ago Len Evans grabbed a good bottle of burgundy and led me out to his veranda for the would-be son-in-law conversation. As the sun fell behind the Hunter Valley's Brokenback range, we got to the part where he gauged my prospects. I was struggling with some banal career decision: one path boring but financially secure, the other much more interesting but relatively poorly paid. Seeking approval, I ventured that the sensible thing might be to go dull and safe. Len thought for a moment, turned to me and asked: "How many lives are you planning to have?"
Most of the time, the expression "living life to the full" is a platitude. Len turned it into a masterclass, and we were his students. His professional face was that of the wine man, and according to those equipped to judge, he had few rivals in the world for depth of knowledge. Fewer still could match his palate; none could equal his contribution to Australia's wine industry. But to celebrate that expertise alone is to limit him. To my eye, his greatest love was people. His adored wife Trish, his children and grandchildren came first, without question, but I know of no one who took more energetic pleasure in friends and strangers, entertaining them with wine, song, fine food and, above all, laughter. - Steve Waterson's tribute to his father-in-law, Len Evans in "A Man in Full" (via Jill Fallon's Legacy Matters blog)
Thanks to Alain and Len for simplifying business for me: 1. Simply This. 2. Simply Yes. 3. Enjoy.
Bonus: These two posts totally get to the heart of the sheer enjoyment of people thing. They made my day when I read them this week. Trust me, go read:
Soulful Relationships, by Steve Pavlina. Snippet: "Total strangers would just open up to her and tell her their darkest secrets in the first 10 minutes of conversation – I could scarcely believe it. I had to ask this woman how she did it, and she explained that it was the result of a particular mindset she had about people."
"It is joyous. It gives me hope. It lowers my blood pressure.
My daughter, Emma, did like it. She not only liked it, she loved it. “That really makes me happy,” she kept saying after watching it. “I just love that.” Her face glowed, sometimes a rare event in the universe of studied coolness that often marks these teenaged years."
p.s. A long time ago I owned a framed calligraphed quote that read: "Life is not a dress rehearsal". Yet this title is just asking for some smart-alecky Buddhist response, eh? "How Many Lives You Planning to Have?"
"Yes, I remember some incarnations, but are they mine?" says one modern day occultist. Hmmm, well what if there is no reincarnation of souls, just reincarnated thoughts spinning....and Nirvana is right here, right Now?
images Winecrush harvest grapes from The Wine Institute; pear from Flickr's Tillwe. I had a yummy Bartlett pear salad with baby greens, gongozola and walnuts for lunch today. The pears from the farmer's market are supple and succulent right now.