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Sharpen Your Skillset

As I commonly draw inspiration from movies and entertainment, I found myself watching Jon Favreau in the 2014 film “Chef.” The film is a few years old, but it has been trending as people have turned to movies and cooking during this past year’s stay-at-home period. And if you know me, you know I like a good movie almost as much as I like good food (especially when it’s from a food truck), so this one was a no-brainer.

If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the basic rundown. Jon Favreau directs and stars as the talented, but out-of-luck Chef, Carl Casper, who quits his job at a prestigious restaurant after frustrations with his demanding boss result in a highly publicized online run-in with an acclaimed food critic. Down and out, Carl heads across the country and reinvents his creative genius in the kitchen with a food truck. Enough with the spoilers, go watch it here.

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with this past year. To say many of us have faced challenges over the last 12-plus months would be an understatement. We haven’t crashed and burned in the uncomfortable viral way that Carl did, but it’s safe to say we’ve had to evaluate where to go from here. I found there are a number of simple, yet effective lessons in “Chef” that we can implement. While inspirational, it’s about professional development at its core, so here are my top three.

Work with intention

Simply put, be a craftsperson. Carl wants to put out the best menu when he’s at his LA restaurant, so it’s easy to think he might be in it for the accolades. But when he starts his food truck journey, it’s evident food is a craft. It doesn’t matter who he’s cooking for or where, he is going to prepare his Cubano sandwiches in the same meticulous manner. It goes beyond attention to detail. It’s about doing his job with intention, and it shows.

This is a skillset we could all benefit from refining in the glazing industry. Are we pushing out product to meet deadlines, or are we making sure those products are manufactured with quality and precision so they will perform as expected in the field? How are they packaged and handled? What about fieldwork? Are we installing glazing products like they are the art the architect envisioned? Let’s apply our talent to our craft in the big and small ways.

Inspire those around you

While this is a feel-good movie, I like how Carl’s success comes from his team. He’s not a one man show. He’s working in close quarters day after day on a food-truck as he heads across the country. That could easily go south. But because of his passion and dedication to his craft, he inspires those around him.

This outlook is easy to overlook in the daily grind. Many of us work or interface with the same group of people five days a week, for years sometimes, whether it’s partners, suppliers or co-workers. Are we looking at those around us as an extensive network of professionals or our central team? Good relationships—internal and external—drive business. So, let’s work, listen and respond in a way that inspires a collective front. I think it’s going to prove more essential now than ever following the year we’ve all just had. We have also seen that that inspiration has had to be virtual. Here’s to getting back to in person inspiration sooner than later.

Sharpen your knife

We may not be undergoing a career shift like Carl that forces us to try something new like a food truck and refine our skillset, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it anyways. Let’s try new things and expand our scope of the industry. Let’s sharpen our “knife,” so to speak. Are we reaching customers in the most effective way within the new hybrid workforce? Are we adjusting our supply chain to address challenging shipping logistics? How are we adjusting to inflation and cost increases? What needs changed or improved to meet increased demands for safety? We’ve all seen how the glazing has scaled and adjusted this past year—often successfully. Let’s keep this mindset as we move ahead.

On to lighter news, if you enjoyed the movie, you may enjoy “The Chef Show” where Favreau teams up with Roy Choi to discuss and perform culinary tasks. Some are inspired by the movie; some are just for fun. Now that I’ve picked out your movie or next show for this weekend, let me wrap up today’s post with a shoutout to Max Perilistein for his ability to inspire others with his positive feedback. Also, congratulations to him and his family as he attends his kid’s graduation ceremony; that’s a milestone. Now the pressure is on!



Dave Vermeuelen

David Vermeulen

David Vermeulen is the North America Sales Director at Technical Glass Products (TGP), a division of Allegion that supplies fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. Contact him at 800/426-0279.