Hello and good day!
Being a tall, lanky gringo at a Peruvian dance party is a humbling experience. No matter how hard I try, and no matter how much my heart desires it, I will simply never be as good at dancing as most of the folks at the party.Most of the people there have been dancing their entire life.
The rhythms and steps are so deeply engrained in their being, that they effortlessly produce virtuoso performances.
I was at a wonderful party yesterday. There were a good 75-100 people on the dance floor at any given time. I danced a few numbers, but I mostly sat on the sideline watching, envious.
While I watched, I tried to pick up the steps to Salsas, Cumbias, Mambos, Merengues, and Latino pop. When I watched the steps, I felt like I should be able to do them.
Kind of like listening to a great singer.
You hear them singing and you think to yourself, how hard can it be? Then you open your mouth and the noise that comes out doesn’t sound anything like you wish it would.
When I got out on the dance floor and tried to copy what I was seeing, I simply couldn’t. I don’t have the right kind of rhythm or understanding of movement. It isn’t in me. Yet, I love to dance, so I powered through, despite an ever-present knowledge of my inferiority.
This can be one of the very hard things to accept in life. You aren’t going to be good at everything.
There are some things that you’ll be natural at, but when it comes to other things, you just aren’t going to be any good. You might become competent, but the learning curve just to become mildly competent is so steep, that it doesn’t make sense to spend your time on it.
I could take dancing lessons, but I still don’t believe I’d ever be as good at Salsa as a person who has danced Salsa their entire life. Over the years, we’ve been asked hundreds of times why we don’t buy land and grow our own cacao.
We’ve also been asked why we don’t buy machines and make our own chocolate.
My brother Brian has dual citizenship. He is a Peruvian citizen and a citizen of the US. Legally, we could buy land and plant our own cacao. But when we’ve thought that option through, it just doesn’t make sense.
No matter how hard we try, we’ll never be as good at farming as the folks who sell us cacao beans. They live on and operate multi-generational family farms.
It is in their blood. They’ve grown up in it. They sense variables instinctively that we’d never even notice.
One of the most striking examples of this is when we were doing genetic testing on the trees where we buy cacao. Our friend and business partner, a cacao farmer named Noe Vasquez, pleaded with us to test one particular tree.
Not a specific farm, mind you, a specific tree.
To put that in perspective, there are tens upon tens of thousands of cacao trees out in the district of Huarango. Noe knows a lot of farmers. He is president of the cacao growers association. He visits a lot of farms and sees a lot of cacao trees.
But he wanted us to make sure we tested this one tree. And that tree was the fourth sample we took from the farm of Don Fortunato Colala, the guy our company is named after.
It was, and still is, the purest expression ever tested of pure Nacional cacao.
We’ve since cloned that tree and distributed the clones to hundreds of farms Obviously, we never would have had the intuition to test that tree. Only somebody with deep experience can have that type of insight.
Likewise with making our own chocolate.
It would be no big deal for us to buy a bunch of equipment and try our hand at making chocolate. Yet, we opt to have a Swiss chocolate maker who has been in business for 115 years doing our manufacturing.
We’ll simply never be as good as them.
When we got into the chocolate business, we saw a gap in post-harvest processing. Cacao must be fermented properly in order to produce delicious chocolate.
This was something that the cacao farmers didn’t have experience with. They were experts at tending to trees, but not at engineering a process to produce fine flavored cacao. Here my brother stepped onto the scene. He is a natural engineer, builder, adventurer, and rambling man.
Very few people in the world have the natural ability required to move out to the jungle as a complete foreigner, and build a post-harvest processing facility with no prior knowledge. Only Brian can operate in that environment and put together the pieces to such a difficult puzzle on the fly.
As a kid I spent most of my free time in a hotel that my dad built from the ground up, or in a theatre that my mom owned and operated.
If you need a good storyteller, or somebody with a deep understanding and appreciation of genuinely good hospitality, I am your man.
I believe that this is true of all of us.
Based on our genetics, environment, and experience, there are activities that we are uniquely cut out for. Part of what makes life so much fun and so exhilarating is searching for that thing we can be great at and practicing it.
Unfortunately, this also means accepting our limitations and realizing that there are some things we just shouldn’t be spending time on.
I tried to learn the guitar a couple years back.I was improving and I could have gotten better. But it was very clear to me that it wasn’t my thing.
If I want to hear good guitar music, I’d be better served letting a guitarist who lives, breathes, and loves guitar do the playing.
Likewise, if a world class guitarist would like to try some delicious chocolate and receive a great customer service experience, they can do business with Fortunato Chocolate.
Anyhow, I am running out of space and steam for now.
I thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!