by David Cohen
I was just reminded while watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi that excellence is achieved when no one is looking.
My business has gotten to a place where day-to-day operations require very little of my time. After 11 years of owning businesses, this is the first time I can say that. I just had my first vacation where I was able to walk away and truly not step back into the business during that week. This is a testament to our people and our team.
However, I’m feeling a little lost with this extra free time. Reaching for things to satiate my dangerously idle mind, Jiro reminds me that quality still has to be fought for every day. No matter what your trade or profession, there will always be room to grow and learn.
I was recently talking with one of our illustrators who pined that none of his favorite projects had seen the most success out of our catalog. I reminded him that short-term success is not relative to carrying long-term respect. At some point our catalog will come under the magnifying glass, and all those years that we fought to put out the most carefully crafted stories will pay off.
We work in the realm of storytelling. We are a storytelling company. As an owner, it is easy to get lost working in the business (as opposed to on the business), as Michael Gerber so aptly introduced in the book The E-Myth Revisited. The company is our living vision culminated from 20+ years working in the storytelling world. We are now standing in front, orchestrating our dream. It’s really no surprise how easy it is to lose sight of that origin story because of how implanted it is in our DNA.
Watching Jiro was an inspiration for the importance of craft. Even when training others and preparing your legacy for future generations it’s crucial to remember the passion that brought you to this point. You can never let up. You can never walk away. You have to be dedicated to what you are spending your time on. My father and his father taught me that if you’re going to do something/anything, then do it right. They both understood the importance of quality and the value of time. These characteristics are what will lead to success through perseverance. It doesn’t matter who is looking now…whatever you are doing will have your name on it. Some day, someone will see that and you will be associated. As we drift further away from our history I think it’s worth it to pay attention to legacy cultures. While their methods can seem antiquated, they have survived for thousands of years — and persevered.
Whether you are a startup entrepreneur, small business owner, college student, or leader of a national organization, are you doing something worth a legacy. Would generations before and after be proud? Do you make decisions because of who might be looking or because you would be proud to share your story with the world? Think about these things as you enter into the week and let them affect your actions.
After joining Round Table Companies in 2007 as director of publishing and client relations, David Cohen now serves as VP and chief strategist. Appearing in dozens of films, commercials, and television shows, David graduated from Rollins College with a theater degree. His last film project was producing Notorious B.I.G. Bigger Than Life with Academy- and Emmy Award-nominated director Peter Spirer.