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Pete Cornwell: “The final 10%”
The restaurateur
Pete Cornwell’s first step into his career path as a successful restaurateur, although he didn’t know at the time what was to follow, was a season at a ski resort in Switzerland, working in the kitchen of a busy bar.
 
With three further seasons under his belt, Pete decided that a 2-year Catering Management course was the best way to move his career forward, after which he learned even more from a management role with My Kinda Town, an international restaurant group.
 
With this experience, and at the ripe old age of 23, Pete bought the pub in his village, helped by a £30k loan from his Dad.  Two years later, the turnover had tripled to £750k and his Dad had been paid back with interest!
 
Having run that venue for 9 years, Pete and a business partner then bought the Swan at West Malling and proceeded to invest £1m in a refit, having sold his home to finance the work.
 
Was it worth it?  Well, 12 years later it’s still going strong and is one of three sites under the banner of The Swan Collection.
 
The one site in central London is at Shakespeare’s Globe.  This site houses a bar and a restaurant as well as rooms for events and private dining.  Under Pete’s leadership for the past 5 years, the turnover has grown from £1.5m to £7m – he must be getting something right!
 
So why would someone with such a prolonged upward trajectory decide he needs some coaching?
 
Pete commented “I’ve always been inquisitive about how people’s minds work, what makes them tick.  I believe in self improvement and have read loads of books on people management.  What I needed though was an impartial view, someone to use as a sounding board, someone without necessarily having specific expertise in my sector but with a different skill set which would challenge me and help me to improve.”.
 
Pete did consider a mentor instead of a coach, but at that time felt he knew what he wanted to do with the business, and how.  It was the psychological aspect of using a good coach from which Pete wanted to benefit.
 
The goals Pete set were a mix of professional goals and personal ones, including addressing his work/life balance.  He knew it was important to capture what happened in his coaching sessions and the way he chose to do this was intriguing!  He made notes on a whiteboard and at the end of the session took a photo of the whiteboard enabling him to revisit the work at will, which he does often. 
 
Running a bar & restaurant meant a venue for the coaching sessions could have been easy to organise, but Pete appreciated that the environment has to be right to get the most out of a session.  He therefore made sure that he found somewhere quiet, somewhere private, and all communication devices were switched off.  Visualisation was a tool which worked well for Pete, but a phone ringing or a raucous group at the other end of the room would simply destroy a carefully constructed scenario.
 
Pete has always had a lot of self-discipline, and he made sure he used this self-discipline to put into effect what he was learning and discovering about himself – as he said “There’s no point working through a session and then just leaving it there – implementation is key.”.
 
One of the key benefits for Pete was an increased ability to come out of the business, to work on it instead of in it.  Pete set himself a number of goals through the various sessions and is delighted that they have all been achieved – he believes the process to have been a complete success.
 
Modesty aside, Pete feels he was 90% effective before the coaching sessions, but the coaching facilitated his achieving that elusive 10% to make him fully effective.  The analogy he drew was with climbing a mountain & getting 90% of the way to the top.  Coaching was the oxygen which helped him complete the last 10%.
 

Coaching for Success
Release creativity; develop your leadership; make confident decisions; perform under pressure.

What's In A Name? The Case of Smoked Salmon Ice Cream
Heston Blumenthal is well known for his commitment to the idea that dining is a multi sensory experience and as such, highly complex.

Here is an early research paper which Heston collaborated on with scientists from Firmenich Research and University of Sussex. The point of interest was how did labels or names of food affect its taste - if at all? They chose a smoked Salmon flavoured ice cream, labeled as either Ice cream or frozen savoury mousse.

Guess what - when people were told it was ice cream it was rated as more strongly tasting salt and savoury and was more strongly disliked. In contrast it was perceived as less salt/savoury and more acceptable when they expected 'savoury mousse'

You have to set up expectations VERY carefully!


What's In A Shape?
Cheese Symbolism
Whereas the description sets up an expectation (above) it seems shape can also have a symbolic link with taste.

Another team of researchers asked various groups of people to taste cheese and then record their responses on a scale with an angular, sharp symbol at one end and a rounded symbol at the other.

They found that strong, pungent cheeses were considered to be more angular in shape. Mild cheeses were considered to be more rounded in shape. They suggest this has implications for how cheese is packaged and presented.

Charles Spence et al; Crossmodal correspondences: Assessing shape symbolism for cheese; Food Quality and Preference; Volume 28, Issue 1, April 2013, Pages 206–212


What Does Your Taste In Food Say About You? Sweet Tooth - Sweet Nature?
Metaphors are being recognised as very important for affecting our 'reality'. So we know that giving someone a warm drink to hold before going into a meeting tends to encourage them to behave 'warmly' during the meeting.

Here's a piece of research looking at the metaphor we use to describe agreeable / nice people. "My sweetheart", "honey", "My sugar" e.g. It seems that the metaphor of sweetness translates directly into personality reality!

People rated as more agreeable seem to prefer sweet foods. People who have a sweet tooth also seem to be more likely to give their time to volunteer help.

It even seems that giving people chocolate can lead them to behave more agreeably and volunteer help more!

Being cynical, when you got that romantic box of chocolates do you think the giver was just trying to soften you up?

Read more.........

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