[VIDEO] Thinking WWAAAY outside the box: NHDK

If you’re recruiting for a business that wants to WIN, make sure you hire people who see the world how it could be, 

not how it is

Victor Enrich sums it up perfectly with this visually captivating piece entitled





victor enrich



Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter



Five essential ways to build and maintain your personal brand

There was a time when you kept a copy of your CV on a disk and every couple of years or so you updated it with a new job title and phone number. Voila! Your so-called 'personal brand' was bang up to date. Alas, those days sound so twee, I can’t believe it was that simple. With the advent of the internet, social networks and now interconnected communications across your business and personal personas, it’s hard to know where to start. This time last year, I made a concerted effort to tidy up the stream of info that already existed out there about me and I wanted to share the five best tools I have found best for to keeping your personal brand fresh, vibrant and ready to wow.

Before I start, it’s worth stating that a personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Also this post just deals with the part of your brand that will help you in work or in business. How you dress, how you behave and how you deal with life are possible future topics, but assuming you are a rounded character who wants to do well in life, this might be for you. Oh, and it's for chefs too. Mwaah.

Here goes:

1) Get on


Ah yes, the 800lb Gorilla in the room when it comes to creating that professional tone to your outstanding personality. Even if you are not looking for a new job, a presence on


is critical in sailing the choppy waters of promotion, cross-departmental collaboration and any initiatives where you might be required to represent your company externally. With the newly updated mobile app at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to check in, connect and comment on what your network is up to.

Maintaining your LinkedIn profile is a bit like caring for a delicate plant… it takes time, nurturing and lots of pruning to get it just right. Oh, and if you're

 not going to upload a photo, then don’t bother.  Get a professional looking picture in there, fill out as much detail as you can and then tell the world as much about your career using the least number of words possible (the pruning part). 

2) Start a


If you haven’t got one already, then it’s time to make it happen. I cannot stress enough how vital this is at gaining real influence among your peers and senior management at work and in the wider circle of your chosen industry. I am not saying it is easy, far from it, but it does challenge you to be both disciplined and bold as you commit your thoughts for wider consumption. Whether you


about a hobby, or an aspect of your work that you are passionate about, it doesn’t matter. Just be yourself, be positive and be knowledgeable on your chosen subject. Don’t worry about followers, subscribers or what people think when you start out. Just write. Eventually you will find your voice while honing your topic. Eventually your audience will find you. 

And remember, if the CEO of your company reads your blog and is impressed enough to mention it to you in passing - then you only need an audience of ONE to make your effort worthwhile.



your life

We all have a digital footprint on the net. Google yourself to get an idea of what other people might come across, if they did the same thing. Guess what? They did already. Which means if you’re still in a job, then all is not lost. The best way to present your digital self to a prospective employer or business prospect is to curate what’s out there and serve it to up in one tidy package. That’s where


comes in. Basically it is like having your very own website, but filled with data that you have created through your interactions on social media. Once you sign in with your various Social Media credentials, Vizify will analyse your accounts and regurgitate the information into a very slick presentation. If, like me, you have travelled, there is a very clever tool that takes the visitor on a virtual tour around the globe. But don’t stop there, go into the ‘edit’ menu and spend time tweaking the information until it comes out with exactly what you want to present about yourself. Once done, you can embed a click-thru button on your email signature and that will direct people to your digital brand, before they have a chance to Google a random selection of positive - or negative - snippets about you.

4) Lock down your

Facebook settings.

You’re probably already on


and use it to connect with your mates and family. No problem there. No problem, that is, as long as you have not been reckless with your privacy settings. Spend time going over your account settings to make sure that only ‘Friends’ can see your content. This includes pictures you are tagged in, location check-ins and other posts you have commented on. I don’t want to dwell too much in this area, but I will offer one vital nugget of advice: DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO WRITE ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT YOUR JOB. It is your private space, but all bets are off if a work colleague flags it up with your employer. Time and again, people find themselves out of a job because they didn’t appreciate how seriously their employer is about their company brand integrity.

5) Embrace


This is the Daddy of them all. Ignoring Twitter is no longer an option. And yet

joining Twitter

is also one of the biggest risks you take with your personal brand due to it’s openness and relentless energy. What I would say is, start cautiously, think twice before posting and be exceptionally generous. By that I mean, share other people’s content, reply with politeness, engage with integrity and leave them wanting more of you. Do this and you will take to it like a duck to water. Yes, you can have an ‘enthusiastic discussion’ if you feel strongly about an issue, but don’t fall into the trap of bullying your point of view into first place. Because there is no first place. There’s only you and everyone else who will think you’re a tit.

Used in the right way, Twitter gives your personal brand so much mileage, it’s not even funny. Since I joined, I have had so many doors of opportunity open and made a huge number of friends from all walks of life. Today I can’t imagine a world without it. Which reminds me, once you do sign up, find me there and connect.

© Not known at time of publishing.
© Not known at time of publishing.

Creating a unique and consistent personal brand on lots of digital channels will set you apart from the crowd.

There are lots of other avenues you can use to showcase your brand - YouTube, Instagram and Foursquare for example, but these five should be your top priorities in building a professional, creative and sustainable presence online where people can find you in the best possible light. Let me know of any new ones you come across and don’t forget to connect with me as you check them out.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter



5 Unexpected Ways To Build Your Personal Brand [Shared article]

Here's an article I came across which I thought was worth sharing with you:
Sometimes, effective personal branding requires nixing conventional wisdom. Here are five tips to help you increase your visibility, influence and success. 1. Be Lazy. One misconception about…


via Readability (This post was formatted automatically by IFTTT, so apologies if I haven't tidied it up yet. TK)

How Passion4Hospitality can shape your career

Here’s a little feel-good story worth sharing about a Management Graduate with a promising future in the world of hospitality. We finally said Hello at SkillsLondon when we both represented


in our roles as Springboard Ambassadors 

(see picture)

Full Article Here:


"Participating in the Institute of Hospitality's P4H Student Debating Competition and Careers Forum led to Simrian Kaur finding a job that she really loves.
Having worked all through university, Simrian had a choice of more than one graduate position…"

Simrian Kaur and Thomas Kilroy: Meeting at the P4H debate led to an exciting new job opportunity...

If you are a student or (or even a lecturer) in the field of Hospitality, I can only urge you to get a team signed up. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential… and who knows what doors you might open?

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter



In search of the obvious answer [Shared article]

Here's an article I came across which I thought was worth sharing with you:
The obvious answer to your problem isn't obvious yet, but once someone finds it, it will be.That's the way obvious answers work. They're not obvious because they're easy to find, they're obvious…


via Readability (This post was formatted automatically by IFTTT, so apologies if I haven't tidied it up yet. TK)

Be Careful: Employers Eyes are on your Social Media [Shared article]

Here's an article I came across which I thought was worth sharing with you:
"Social Media can be an excellent way to keep up to date with your friends and meet new people, but don’t forget that many unexpected people could be searching your accounts to find out if you…"

via Readability (This post was posted & formatted automatically by IFTTT, so apologies if I haven't tidied it up yet. TK)

Five great nuggets of advice to kickstart your career.

Last week I joined a number of Oxford Brookes University alumni to share our career experiences with an audience of management graduate students. All of my co-panellists spoke eloquently about their transition from study to employment and the myriad of opportunities they encountered along the way. 

In doing so, each had a little nugget or two of advice to offer the students setting out on their career paths of the future. Here are five worth considering:

1) Find the job you would do for free and build a career around it. 
I wrote a broader post about how to figure this out here. Starting out I just wanted to be a chef, but that lead to patisserie, then to restaurants, then to cooking demonstrations and TV, then consultancy, then management, then marketing, then social media and here we are. Back to you. Although the scenery may have changed, my vehicle was always hospitality and it was fueled by my desire to create great guest experiences. And guess what? I do it at home for free when we throw a dinner party.

2) Travel, learn a language and immerse yourself in other cultures.
Immerse yourself in other cultures
Try and do this while you are young and independent, because later in your career you will be swayed by other commitments which will talk you out of it. And why is this experience so important? At some stage you will be required to lead a team and understanding how we communicate will be fundamental in getting the best from your team. As Peter Drucker once said "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". You can put all the plans you like in place, but if the culture of your team, company or customers are not aligned with that plan, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Talking of which..

3) Embrace failure, learn from it and move on quickly.
We all have setbacks in our lives, but it is how we react and deal with them that sets us apart. If you can demonstrate your ability to bounce back from failure, you will show up on the radar of senior management or investors. Many, if not all of the greatest business leaders have been through some form of life changing setback which made them stronger and more measured as a result. Did you know Richard Branson has dyslexia? There's a fascinating article about some famous adversities here.

4) Be yourself, but bring your 'A' game.
Nobody is as well reahearsed at being unique as you are. If you're still trying to figure out certain aspects of who you want to be, don't worry. Most people are. Try and work with people you respect, learn about people you admire and don't be afraid to emulate their mannerisms, behaviours and thinking. However at some point you have to arrive at the person YOU ARE. When that day comes, you will have gained a huge advantage on many of your colleagues and competitors. (Bonus tip: also don't forget you can learn from the people you dislike about the kind of person you DON'T want to be. An equally important distinction.) As for your 'A' game - that simply means work hard, play hard. Make sure however that you know the distinction, because confusing the two is where most of the energy will be sucked out of your career on that ladder to success.

5) Don't underestimate loyalty, respect and determination.
These should be qualities you display and qualities you seek out in the people you work with. Sometimes you are faced with making a decision where you might appear to be letting someone down (leaving a job, re-locating, turning down a promotion etc). But if the overriding verdict was out of loyalty or respect for someone else, or as part of your determination to grow as a person or leader, then the other party will respect the outcome. A simple question to evaluate this thought process is to ask yourself: Is this the best I can do? Business leaders know they can teach tasks, duties and processes, but they can't 'teach' integrity. That comes built in as part of your character. Bring that as part of your 'A' Game and the road will rise to meet your journey.

These are just five. If you have any other qualities, characteristics or nuggets of advice to offer someone starting out in their career, please take a minute to write a small comment below. Who knows how inspirational that might be to someone.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

A simple question to help you find your dream job.

Last week I put a simple question to an audience of 150 management graduates at Oxford Brookes University during their annual 'Focus on Careers' eventFor me, it is one of the most powerful ways to evaluate your career and life goals, and since the answer constantly changes as our dreams and aspirations do, it is worth revisiting every now and then whether you are starting out, stuck in a rut or responding to changes of circumstance.

"If you couldn't believe you were being paid to do a job - a job you loved doing so much you would do it for free - what job would that be?"

This conundrum was first put to me a couple of years ago by BaxterStorey's Director of Sales, Simon Esner, who was my business mentor at the time. It was a proud moment to see Simon being crowned UK Sales Director of the Year in the National Sales Awards last week, so for me he embodies the very notion of what it means to have that elusive 'dream job'.

The question caught me off-guard at the time and consequently my answer to him was not a wholly satisfactory one, but not for the reasons you might think. The truth is I've had all of those jobs. The so-called dream job has been ticked off my list so many times, it's ridiculous. In any case, it was for this reason I had sought out his advice in the first place. Over the last three years I have been on a personal journey of introspection to find that elusive next one - the one job I'd do for free if money was no object! - and I needed his help in uncovering what it might be.

Of course you might be wondering why so many, if each one was such a so-called dream job. The thing I've learned about landing a dream job is that it's the journey to get there that makes it special, not the destination. Every time I felt I had 'arrived' (perhaps even getting slightly too comfortable in the role), I knew it was time to dream up another and go chase that. 

As I looked out across my audience, I couldn't help but notice the sheer abundance of potential that illuminated those fresh-faced management graduates. Each of them no doubt has a compelling idea of what their road to success might look like, but many will face setbacks and disappointments along the way. When (not if) this happens, they will feel the worst possible frustration, but I have found that these situations arise to point us towards new avenues of opportunity. And very often we find ourselves in a far more exciting place than if we'd planned for it.

Networking with some great people during the 'Focus on Careers' event at Oxford Brookes University

So consider again the question: if money was no object, what job would you do to fill your day?

If you think of a compass as showing you true North, then your answer to this simple evaluation will point you toward your true happiness and long term success. I've recently landed my new 'Dream Job' and can't wait to get started.

If you are doing what you feel is your dream job, please share your story in the comments below. If you're still looking, then I wish you every success in finding it and hope you can appreciate and enjoy the journey it takes you on. 

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

Interview: Custard meets… a Kilroy perspective on events.

With the Christmas Season almost in full swing, here's a few event planning tips for chefs and entrepreneurs which 

Custard Communications kindly 

featured in their newsletter recently.

Custard meets…Thomas Kilroy, general manager for BaxterStorey at Oxford University

Every step you take to eliminate confusion during an event is a step towards success.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter



Food trends: the only thing constant is change.

The FSCI (Foodservice Consultants Institute) held their international conference last week where the debate turned to food and business trends that might be on the hospitality landscape in 2020. Insects on the menu, South East Asian food, aging diners and nutritional guidelines were the some of the main headlines in the discussion. 

Insects I'm not too sure about, but the other three are definitely due for a big appearance on the horizon in my humble opinion.
But first, let's think about the concept of 2020 for a second. It sounds so futuristic in the 'science fiction' sense of the word. Even now I still picture Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A space odyssey" as taking place during some distant time way off in the future when those fleeting twelve months have already well and truly left the building. And sadly, with no monolith to show for it. (Imagine that as a Y2K 'project of the people' rather than New Labour's recipe for blancmange, the Millennium Dome). But alas 2020 is only seven years away. Or six actually, with only weeks 'til the next New Year hangover.

So to get a concept of what trends might look like over such a timespan, let's take a look back at the last seven years. For me personally, the UK had a fresh appeal having just arrived back after an eight year spell in Kathmandu during which time I looked around at what might become the 'next big thing'. 

Boutique hotels immediately spring to mind with suede throws in rooms of Farrow and Ball autumnal shades. Gastro-pubs too were attracting Celebrity chefs away from expensive starched tableware and into low maintenance wood floors. The PubCos rubbed their hands with glee as articles in the Caterer & Hotelkeeper encouraged chefs that this was their easiest route to running their own business. It was. But it was also a honey trap. Within a matter of months, Gordon Ramsay Holdings snapped up The Narrow for £4M quid, quickly following with The Devonshire and then The Warrington. Worral-Thompson (remember him?) took on The Greyhound while media-phwoar Jean Christophe Novelli took on Green King tenancies at the white Horse in Harpenden and The French Horn in Steppingly (a pun no doubt appealing to ladies of a certain age.)

During this time the buzzwords to catch the wave were 'casual dining'; 'grazing dishes'; 'tapas fusion' and 'Modern British'. And bars. Just insert a generic word in front of the word bar and voila! - a new concept is born: juice bars, coffee bars, seafood bars, dessert bars, noodle bars... you get the idea.

As for actual food trends, I'd say the rise and rise of coffee - yes it is food for the purpose of this topic - has been quite relentless. It has even been mooted as the saviour of the ailing pub. Nothing is.

The branding of sustainability has also increased, with logos such as Red Tractor, Freedom Assured and MSC making their way onto the menu for customers to feel more considerate in their choice of animal flavoured protein.

Artisan pizzas, dirty burgers, gourmet hot dogs and chipotle chilli burritos have all had their fifteen minutes of fame. And for that sweet tooth we have seen seasonal macaroons, salted caramel you-name-it, water-based ganache truffles, doughnuts, cronuts and now vintage-plated retro sponge cakes thanks to the meteoric rise of amateur baking as championed on Great British Bake Off.

Just like the proverbial soufflé however, what goes up must come down and as such, these too will come to pass.

Boutique hotels are being squeezed out by the budget brands of Premier Inn and Travelodge while the Gastro-pub business model lauded by the brightest and best turned into huge liabilities as a result of the recession with many of them having been sold on to naive new owners keen to make their mark. (To be fair, a few continue to beat the odds - Tom Kerridge championing honest-to-goodness British food at his two-star-Michelin Hand and Flowers is riding a crest just now. And deservedly so after years of hard work at the stove.)

Seven years from now in 2020, we WILL care more about the nutritional value of our dining-out choices. We WILL be keen to try new and authentic micro-regional dishes from Asian countries that we or our children are travelling to. We will even eat a few insects if the right celebrity chef or brand can get behind the initiative. 

What WON'T happen however is the stagnation or grinding to a halt of these continual food trends and new business concepts. Certainly not as long as organisations like the FCSI, Academy of Catering Excellence, Institute of Hospitality, Arena, BHA and a host of other professional bodies continue to foster debate, research and discussion among their members to ensure the industry stays vibrant for decades to come. 

As a veteran casino owner once said to me after 40 years in Nepal: "the only thing constant here, is change." I suspect the same applies to food trends and business concepts in the year 2020.

Beating hunger with fund-raisin' cookies.

Today I am feeling very proud for some of my Leadership Academy colleagues who are seeing the results of their course project come to fruition in a very bold and rewarding way.  By sharing the story of Miriam's plight of starvation (pictured right) , they galvanised BaxterStorey and HolroydHowe to get behind a giant cookie sale to raise thousands of pounds for Action Against Hunger to coincide with today being World Food Day.

Using ingredients sponsored by food supplier Brakes, our chefs across the UK have been busy baking cookies for sale, while the service teams have been raising awareness out front of our initiative to help the hungry on World Food Day

To further encourage staff to show their support, we have been invited to donate an hour of our salary through a salary-sacrifice scheme set up through payroll. I personally like this initiative as it has given me the option to donate without buying loads of cookies, as I continue my endeavour to cut out sugar from my diet.

It is hoped that about £40,000 will be raised through cookie sales all over the UK. That's an astounding result for a team of talented managers on a training course and I applaud their entrepreneurship and ambition.

In a separate initiative which ties in nicely on World Food Day, UNICEF UK have started a hashtag campaign on social media called #emptyplate where you share a photo of your empty plate before eating to help raise awareness. It certainly made me stop on think about how lucky I am just as I was about to pour out my muesli this morning.

Here are some actions for you today that will MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

  • If you are lucky enough to have our BaxterStorey or HolroydHowe chefs cooking your lunch today, then please buy a cookie for 75p - all of which goes to helping the hungry.

  • Share a photo of your empty plate on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #emptyplate. Also add in the following suggested text so your followers can share the message. "Not every child will get the  they need today. Join me and speak out about child malnutrition. Snap an #emptyplate #WFD2013"

Together we can make a difference.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

BaxterStorey's award-winning recipe.

“If you have the choice of one or two companies to work for and BaxterStorey is one of them, go with BaxterStorey as your first job in contract catering. You won’t regret it. Their training and development is unparalleled”
That was the advice offered to me by my friend Stewart four years ago. He worked with me back in the day as a Commis Patissier at the Ritz and was speaking from personal experience of the company. In time a role within Baxterstorey did come up and having followed his advice, I have to say; he was bang on the money. I have not regretted a single minute. 

Over the last few months however, I found myself thinking about what he meant by that training and development that BaxterStorey is so renowned for. In my own case, I have had the most fantastic journey of personal and professional development which culminated in a business project presentation to the board of directors (with Alastair Storey himself only three feet away… Gulp!) that wrapped up our year-long Advanced Management Programme in the Leadership Academy.  

What other signs are there of this training success? Does it show up in other ways that perhaps I am not aware of? Or is my own experience the 'norm', where my commitment to personal development has helped me work out a longer term career plan. Yes, there is the unparalleled revenue growth BaxterStorey has seen, but I wanted to look deeper than that. Does it manifest itself in real skills and leadership excellence rather than just sales-speak?

A couple of months ago, one of our top Baristas, Don Altizo made it into the UK finals of the National Barista Championships. With some serious competition from artisan independent barista conquistadors from all over the country, this was quite a milestone for a Foodservice Caterer of our size. Naturally we were thrilled with that result and I’m sure Don will push harder next year to top that. It is certainly vindication that our Barista Academy run by Tim Sturk is making a real difference.

Then word trickled through that one of our sales team managers, Tim Axe was through to the finals in the UK National Sales Manager of the Year Awards. In front of an audience and panel of judges, he will have to make the pitch of a lifetime if he is to beat off some stiff competition from other industry sectors including media and technology.

In the meantime, the list of finalists in the UK Restaurant Manager of the Year was announced with two, yes TWO, BaxterStorey managers among them; Louise Denton from the English National Opera and Janine Swales, General Manager at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Seeing as there were contestants from one or two of the best known Michelin star properties in the UK, this was quite an achievement in and of itself.

And then there is Hayden. Hayden Groves is an Executive Chef based in London and for the last three years has come soooooo close to winning the National Chef of the Year, it’s not even funny. A case study in tenacity, Hayden’s Twitter feed is peppered with insanely early starts, late trips home and a dedication to long distance cycling that borders on psychotic. Which is why it came as no surprise (to me, at least) that he had once again put himself through to the finals this year since he has proven himself more than capable of competing at that level.

With bated breath we settled in to await the outcomes of these various contests where winning can be a life-changing event for the victor. First up was the Restaurant Manager of the Year finals which were held on Monday just gone. This involved a full day of exemplary restaurant skills, food and wine pairing and business presentation acumen in the form of a Dragon’s Den style pitch to a panel of judges. Whew! I shudder to think what kind of pressure they were under. Eventually it was the judges turn to consider their decision and it was a stunning one. Janine Swales, General Manager of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club had prevailed. To have two contestants participating was testament to the talent we attract at BaxterStorey, but for one of them to be crowned overall winner - an industry first - is proof that Foodservice Catering is no longer the ‘poor relation‘ to the rest of the hospitality industry.

Winner Janine Swales with chief judge Peter Avis
Two days later and our focus turned to Hayden as the National Chef of the Year Finals got under way. He sent a couple of tweets of thanks to wellwishers on the train in and that was the last we heard from him for the day. Time to let his food do the talking. With a judging panel that held a handful or two of Michelin stars between them underscores the pressure these chefs were under to prepare, cook and deliver perfection. Consistency and steely determination were the main ingredients required as the clock ticked away. Plate after plate was sent through to eagerly awaiting tasting spoons while tweet after tweet was shared and dissected. I was riveted at the tension of it all, and that was just in my office at work.

Hayden Groves (ably assisted here by Pastry Chef Phil Skinazi)
We will never know how close it really came, but to say that the judges deliberated for 90 minutes tells me there wasn’t a cigarette paper between victor and vanquished. Eventually someone took the microphone to thank sponsors and volunteers while Twitter exploded with excited impatience as we held our breath for the big announcement. 

"Third place goes to…" not Hayden. Thank goodness. 

"In second place…" oof, again not Hayden. That’s a good thing right? He has to be first. Or what if..what if he's not first? I quickly tweeted "All or Bust!" as I prepared myself for the worst....

"And the 2013 National Chef of the Year is… Hayden Groves of BaxterStorey." A huge collective cheer went up while a torrent of tweets from well wishers came through.

Noel Mahony, our co-CEO, wasn't letting me off the hook with my 'doubting Thomas' tweet of 'All or bust!'. He tweeted:
Top man indeed. And top woman in the form of Janine the previous evening. Within two days we - the collective BaxterStorey we - had scooped the National Chef and National Restaurant Manager of the Year Awards. A stunning double in skills excellence that makes me proud to be associated with such talent and dedication. From Coffee to Restaurant Service to Hospitality benchmarking to Cooking Skills to Sales to Training to HR... we have been up there competing with the best of the best in UK industry. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because someone decided that to be at our best we need to attract talent, nurture talent and promote talent. And that is something quite a few of us want to be a part of. 

Well done Hayden Groves and Janine Swales and Don Altizo. Best of luck to Tim Axe (no pressure buddy!) and to all my colleagues shortlisted in multiple categories of the upcoming Caterer and Hotelkeeper's Foodservice Catey awards due to be announced on Friday night. (I won't tempt fate by naming a few more, but you know who you are!)

And thank you to my friend Stewart for pointing me in the direction of a company that puts such focus on training and development. Despite disappointing news regarding a certain MBA scholarship that eluded me, I guess now I need to see if I can convert some of my own self-development into something exciting in the near future. When a tweet like this comes through from the CEO...

..all I can say is watch this space.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

Why Large Companies Struggle With Business Model Innovation

Three reasons hypothesized in the Harvard Business Review:

Reluctance to experiment Even the most brilliant business model innovation idea is just that: an idea.  It relies on a lot of assumptions and judgments, and in the absence of a crystal ball, the best tool we have is experiments. But established companies are surprisingly bad at experimenting.
A large retail chain on the brink of bankruptcy refused to follow our advice to experiment with a drastic revision of its labor management practices in a few stores because the CEO was concerned about appearing “indecisive” and “unsure” about the correctness of the decision. The company did eventually go bankrupt.

Sainsbury's pioneered self-service retail in the UK following a trial in one single outlet (in Croydon) in 1950. I guess fear of being called 'indecive' might have killed that initiative, but it seems Alan Sainsbury had more chutzpah than the CEO cited above...

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), or by RSS, or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

Employees can be entrepreneurs too.

Entrepreneurship runs in my blood. My Father is a lifelong entrepreneur and both of my Grandfathers were too. In my teens and early twenties I dreamed of owning my own restaurant and couldn't wait for when I would become the boss. Eventually my chance arrived and I handed in my notice to go and open my own eponymous restaurant. 

I vividly remember that final service at Mosimann's Dining Club when I flippantly said to Anton as he passed me in the corridor; "Hey Chef, today is my last day as an employee!

Later he quoted that back to me in a speech during my leaving party when he said it was a very bold and brave statement and wished me all the best. His words have stayed with me to this day since I hadn't really thought about how profound my statement was. It seemed I had set myself a challenge that I could NEVER go back to being an employee again. Now that became a scary idea at the time. But also a very exciting one...

Of course what I learned over the years is that you actually never stop being an employee. Even as he made that speech, Anton Mosimann himself was an employee since any Director of a Limited Company technically becomes an employee of 'The Company'. I also found that as much as I liked to think of myself as 'the boss', I still had to answer to business partners, and bank managers, and auditors and stakeholders and ultimately, our customers. Yes I could make my own decisions, but effectively I never stopped working for someone else. Did I ever stop being an employee? No, not really. I just thought I had for a short while.

That realisation made the decision to join a large company as an employee an easier one from that philosophical point of view, since I had now exorcised the demons of curiosity and found out for myself what it was like to be my own boss. It came with amazing highs, but also had incredible lows and the challenge since then has been to find that happy medium. As it happens, I think I may have found it.

When I joined my current employer, my biggest concern was in making sure I did not make any rash or bold decisions - decisions I would normally have made as an entrepreneur - until I knew the outcomes were going to be 'safe'. Learning all of the policies and procedures on my induction was a daunting experience. Furthermore, I was encouraged to 'manage the feelings' of one or two colleagues that I was to work with. This didn't bode well. As much as I tried to avoid 'rocking the boat', I began to lose confidence in my own decision-making instinct and constantly deferred to my line manager. I had gone from one extreme (of risk-taking) to the other (of safety) and got myself stuck in management quicksand. Something had to change if I was to become effective again. 

Eventually, a senior manager asked me a very simple question that gave me my Eureka moment; "Thomas, if you ran this location contract as if you owned it, what would you do?". I balked at the question and gave two or three quickfire solutions to some of the issues we were facing. "So why don't you do that?" was the reply. This really helped me figure out how to think about any future issues or challenges I was to face. I needed to get back in touch with my entrepreneurship as it was my secret weapon to becoming a better manager and leader.

Idea on the Horizon

Since then, I have tried to inject that momentum of energy and thought process into everything I do at work. By encouraging my team and colleagues to take more ownership of the challenges we face - just as I would as a business owner - they have become better managers themselves. I find myself constantly looking at how company systems can be tweaked and modified, initiatives kick-started (or improved), or how colleagues can be supported either directly from myself or from within the company culture. I know this approach might grate a few people the wrong way, but I have to believe that's their problem. 

Like friendship, I believe that entrepreneurship grows and strengthens the more you offer and share it. It is the foundation upon which the company I work for was founded. It is also the foundation upon which my own character was moulded. Doesn't it make sense that each should benefit the other for the greater common good?

Please feel free to leave a comment. And if you enjoyed reading this you may like other related posts listed below. To receive future posts don't forget to subscribe via email (just enter your email above), by RSS or why not follow me on twitter @mykitchensync.

Twitter for absolute beginners.

A colleague has just joined Twitter and tweeted that she doesn't quite get it yet. That's not a surprise as most people struggle with it when they first sign up. I know I did. At first glance Twitter looks like some kind of random gibberish written in pidgin English. Actually, quite a lot if it



that, so the real trick is filtering out the noise.

So for my colleague's benefit here's my take on how to get started...

You've signed up, given yourself a username (not too rude, I hope!) and now you're wondering what to do next. Well before you start, the next two things I'm going to ask you to do will be crucial if you are going to get any joy out of Twitter. Here they are:

1) Upload a photo of yourself. No, really. This shows that you are a real person and not some automated bot. And if not a pic of yourself, then an interesting pic that represents what you're about.
2) Now go to 'settings' and in the Profile section there is a box marked 'Bio'. Enter one sentence about yourself that describes who you are in a nutshell. If it's interesting, people will want to find out more, so be creative.

Now you are ready to begin. OK, let's start with the premise that you've just walked into a party and you don't know anyone. Yet.

What's the first thing you'd do? Probably find yourself a drink or some nibbles. 

Well go do that. Not literally, but you could start by following a few brands that you know - just to start filling your timeline with something familiar to you. In the search field, type in the name of a brand, product or restaurant that you like. Once you find what interests you, just click 'follow'. A lot of people go to celebrities as it is something we haven't  been able to do before. Some are really interactive (Dara O Bhriain, Raymond Blanc and Stephen Fry are great examples), but don't be surprised if they don't reply back to you when you write to them. I posted a

little video about this

which kinda puts the whole celebrity thing into perspective.

No doubt you will unfollow these brands

in time as they usually just want to sell you stuff (the antithesis to what this blog is trying to convey), 

but it gets the ball rolling.

 And y



is a real word in this new universe you've entered. 

Next you'll want to find people or topics you like, so go do that. You can of course start with me


. However, 

if fashion is your bag then find the brands, or better still find the columnists who write about fashion or designers who actually create the stuff. Then you'll start interacting with some real people who debate, share points of view, tips and insights on the subject. You'll probably be a bit shy at this stage, so you may just want to 'listen' for a while (some call this 'lurking', but that's if you ONLY listen without interacting.) 

After some time spent

 reading this stream of tweets in your timeline you might finally feel the urge to comment on something you agree on. Or disagree on. So go do that. 

Simply hit 'reply', type out your point of view and click send. Guess what? You're up and running. 

If you're point is valid or thought-provoking or in some way adds value to that conversation then chances are, that person will reply back. Or they might 'favourite' that message to let you know they liked it and want to reference it later. Or better still they might follow you back because they want to hear more from you. That way, everything you now tweet will appear in their timeline. And so it goes. The community grows and you grow with it.

Of course, you don't always have to write a new tweet to share something with your followers. What if you read something and you'd like to share that just the way it is (for example a special offer or motivational quote maybe), then just hit the 'Retweet' button and it will give you a choice to either Retweet as it is or Quote the tweet in a new tweet. Hitting Retweet will automatically drop it into your followers timelines. Done. You have share something with your followers by clicking one button. 

For more brevity, it's nice to Retweet with the addition of a little thought you might have on it. So instead of hitting 'Retweet', just tap 'Quote tweet' and add in a little comment before sending.

Hashtags are another very simple tool for sorting and tagging tweets. By placing the # symbol in front of a word, let's say 'weekend' to get #weekend, Twitter users can search for the term


and any tweets will show up in that specific list of search results. Why is this helpful? Let's say you are watching Eastenders (bear with me here!)  and you want to know what other people are saying about the program, just search for #eastenders and I guarantee you will connect with thousands of people tweeting about that topic there and then. When Andy Murray was scoring those last few winning points at Wimbledon, Twitter lit up with manic excitement which could be followed with the hashtag #murray.

According to @TwitterUK, the peak number of Tweets during #Murray's win yesterday was higher than the biggest peak during London 2012.
— BBC One (@BBCOne) July 8, 2013

Just a note of caution: try not to overdo it on the hashtags in your tweets. One or two hashtags is pefectly acceptable. Anymore and people actually switch off.

And that's it. Find people you like, engage with them, follow them, share their stories and enjoy their interaction. Depending on how it goes, they just might invite you back. Of course this might be Twitter I'm talking about, or a really good party that you've attended like I mentioned a minute ago. Either way, the etiquette and philosophpy is kinda the same. Happy tweeting.

A glossary of basic Twitter terms

Tweet - A short message of up to 140 characters that you post to your followers timelines from you or receive into your timeline from them. Tweets can include pics, videos or links to websites and other content. 
Timeline - The 'river' of tweets visible to you as they are posted by the people you follow. You can sort these into lists, but that is for another post.
Retweet - This is a tweet that has been relayed on from one tweeter to another. These can be left as they are or quoted in a new tweet with the addition of a comment. A simple and easy way to share content with your followers.
Hashtag - This famous # symbol familiar to phone dial pads is placed in front of a word to make it a searchable term on Twitter. This is great for following events, conferences or TV programs where that search term is the only thing linking all those followers. Facebook resisted but have now incorporated into their system as well, so it's not going away.
Favourite - You can mark tweets you like or want to read later by clicking the 'Favourite' button, usually denoted with a little star icon. The sender is notified that you have done this, so it is a nice way to acknowledge a tweet that you like, but don't necessarily want to tap out a full reply to.

Brand Personalities: Are you talking to me?

As a well-known restaurateur and voracious networker in Kathmandu, I received many letters every week from very respected acquaintances, diplomats and business people whom we met on the expat 'social circuit'.

Usually these were impeccably written notes on beautifully textured weighted paper, some headed up with a colourful logo and all concluding with a carefully considered signature. Each one was very thoughtful and gave a very good perception of the sender.

What you do is not the same as what you think you do.
However there was one thing - the most important element in forming a great 'first impression'  - that many of these correspondents fell down on which consequently undid all the good work they invested in their brand. I am of course talking about that piece of paper we set aside when reading a letter - the envelope it came in.

All too often the shabbiness and lack of care that went into the envelope and address label was surprisingly poor. After setting the perfect tone about their personal - or business - brand, they made the mistake of handing it over to a poorly trained PA or messenger to send out on their behalf. These were busy people after all; far too important for such a trivial task! This ensured that certain details were overlooked. For example, this assistant would innocently stick it in a cheap, badly made envelope. As for the 'label', the secretary's trick was to print my name and address on a piece of A4 paper and cut out what resembled a square with a pair of scissors before sticking it on the front with a dab of Prit Stick glue. There, perfect. 

The surreal thing was, and this is no exaggeration, on more than a few occasions it was then delivered by a chauffeur who would arrive in a big car only for my staff to see it addressed to (sic) 'Mr. Tomas', 'mr. Kirloy' or worse still, 'mr. Tomas Kirloys' (since the restaurant was called Kilroy's of Kathmandu' I can only assume they thought the 's' was part of my surname.) Inside, I found my name was spelled perfectly. 

At the time it made me laugh, but it also taught me a hugely valuable lesson: your brand is not what you think you portray, but what other people and businesses perceive it to be.

So while you're opening up your new box of restaurant business cards, ask yourself if the chef's cooking is as consistent as the printer's guillotine. Or while your Twitter account is responding in minutes (or seconds) to every rant or reservation enquiry, is your website allowing people to contact you calmly and rationally before they have to resort to Twitter.

With the best will in the world, you can try to micromanage every aspect of your brand's presentation, but you can't control the subjective response your brand receives. You can however influence that perception. And that requires real instinct and feel for what works in each channel. 

The same brand can have multiple personalities across a range of channels. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it does work as long as these messages are kept consistent

Apple is a great example of this where it's brand presentation is very corporate during their quarterly Earnings Conference Call, very innovation-led during the CEO's annual WWDC Keynote and very much emotionally charged in its product and end-user positioning. Different messages aimed at different audiences who connect through different channels. And let's not forget the millions of brand iterations created by fans. They may not be 'on brand', but they resonate more acutely than perhaps the brand can by itself.

If you need your brand to appear more corporate in one channel (for the Bank Manager perhaps) and perhaps more 'folksy' in another (I'm thinking your Customers here), this is possible as long as:

  • everyone in your organisation knows the difference between the two.
  • everyone in your organisation knows why you require that positioning.
  • those messages are kept separate and kept consistent.
  • that those messages do not dilute the brand as a whole, but serve to create a stronger presence with different stakeholders.

Knowing which parts of your brand integrity you can control and which should be allowed to grow organically are the key to building a strong presence that appeals to the widest possible audience.

Brand iterations created by fans may not be 'on brand', but they resonate more acutely.

Five killer features missing from Instagram Video

I've been tinkering with this new video update to Instagram with varying degrees of success. While I have to agree the overall UI  (User Interface) is straightforward, there are five steps that could be added to make it REALLY good.

A timeline counter on each clip. 
When you press and hold the shutter button it starts the slider moving across until released. You then have to guess if this a 3 second or 4 second clip you recorded before calculating how much 'reel' you have left. A time-length digit over each clip would take away that uncertainty. 

Sound: A fade in/out & mute button
These could appear as 'drag-handles at the beginning and end of your recorded video during the edit process. You then drag them in from either end to fade in or fade out the sound if you wanted. Great for recording in windy conditions. By clicking the 'mute' button it would have the reverse effect ie fading OUT the sound to mute.

Music: A simple music overlay feature.  
A few of weeks ago Vizify announced their little 'Twitter movie' addition to the family. In essence it takes some key metrics of your Twitter feed and sets it to a little music. You can see mine here. When you edit your Twitter movie, the music option offers 5 or 6 free themes with three variants in each. Just click to select. Even better would be to incorporate this into the fade button mentioned above.

Add clip from Photo Album.
Very often I have short snippets recorded on my phone that just need a quick and simple way to share with friends. On the iPhone, that usually means uploading to YouTube. Just like the photo feature in Instagram, why not add in the ability to select video from camera album. You then choose the movie and voila, it loads in Instagram. If the selected video is longer than 15 seconds then just put a simple drag handle indicating which 15 seconds you want to keep and it cuts away the rest.
A camera icon for stills & one for video would save time.

One-step recording.
This is my biggest UI bugbear! The interface is designed with one or two steps too many to get recording in my opinion. You have to open the app, click the 'camera' icon, THEN click the 'video' icon. The number of times I have clicked record on the Camera button, only to take a random snap, before clicking that video button to get me going. The action I wanted to record is invariably over by then. If two of the icons on the home screen were combined into one, there would be room for one 'Camera' icon in blue and one 'Video' icon, perhaps in red. Much simpler.