Return on the Individual

Return on the Individual

Food & Drink

Return on the Individual


As food professionals gather in Chicago for the National Restaurant Association Show (NRA) this week, the primary question is no different than what is facing business – of all types – everywhere: How is the economy impacting your business?

The Network Economy

As part of The Food Channel’s® coverage of the NRA, we are asking industry pros to look a little deeper. Not only, “What is causing you pain,” but, “What are you doing about it?” To give us some advance perspective, we sat down with Andy Ford, Chief Insights Officer for CultureWaves™ and NOBLE Communications. He gave us his thoughts on what’s causing our economic distress, and some go-forward tips.

Lack of Vision

The economic conditions have forced change. Think about it this way. Pain leads to challenge, which makes us hope for the better, which forces us to look for opportunity. The biggest challenge facing business today is lack of vision. But, interestingly, it’s not lack of vision from the individual. It’s a shift in our thinking. Before, we were either “a company man” or “an entrepreneur.” Now, we have to say, “I’m the entrepreneur within my company, and its success is up to me.”

Getting to the New Opportunity

I think about what Andrew Grove calls, “strategic inflection points,” or the time when an organization decides to pursue a different direction. Business has shifted its attention to where it can get the most impact, and that new direction is taking most people by surprise. Much of the old way has fallen by the wayside. So, what moves easily with it, and what is left behind along the way? In other words, what are you willing to give up in order to get to the new opportunity?

The Meaning of Value

In the face of this economy, people want to see their dollars provide higher value. Value is NOT low price. Value is substance. The problem is, everyone seems to be looking at “when the Recession is over” as their change point. I’m suggesting that you look at changing yourself now. Now is when it counts.

The New Toolbox

Now, it’s about the individual. How do you become one of those important impact points for your company? Remember, you are a personal brand inside whatever company you link yourself to. So, here’s the challenge: what one thing will you do to increase your personal brand? Are you ready to figure out the new tools?

Who Are Your Partners?

The opportunity is there to make this all about you. Reposition and brand “me.” This is not the time for a bunker mentality. And, if you wait for it to all be over before you act, well, it may be too hard to get out of the ditch.

This is the time for You. And, it’s easier with partners. Find that partner – like The Food Channel, who can seed the content that you want to get out to the millions. Join the conversation; make an impact of your own. You may be behind the curve in some ways, but find partners who can help you move forward.

I suggest that you find companies who are actively looking at their own strategic inflection points, and join forces to bolster the resistance to the stress – whether that comes from the economy, or any other factor. What you’ve done in the past is not enough. Take your knowledge and increase it by having partners who are using today’s tools to reach the marketplace.

Defining Your Personal Vision and Theme

To use the foodservice vernacular, it’s a menu. Are you providing yourself and your company enough quality options with the “you”? Are you exploring what you can do to improve your flavor, your quantity, or presentation? Is your personal menu substantial and nourishing?

In a world of high prices, dwindling resources and lower pay, what can you leverage to become more substantial? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be part of a community – use social media as a way to reach out.
  2. Examine the pressures in your life. Now toss half of them so you can focus on the opportunity.
  3. Be willing to ask questions. Asking questions means there may actually be an answer.

Questions lead to clarity, and therein lies the value of a community discussion. It’s not about being social (a scary word for business). It’s about bringing clarity to the issues.

_We’ll bring you more of Andy and other notable commentary from within the food industry all week. Want to see Andy’s interview from start to finish? Grab a cup of coffee and start the video below.

To read more, check out the following recommended books and Web sites.

Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

What Would Google Do?


CultureWaves blog

Andy’s Blog

NOBLE Communications is the parent company of CultureWaves™ and The Food Channel®.


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