The Joy of Doing Your Best
Hello and good day!
I sat and watched my kids get a haircut this morning.
We are here in the small town of Celendin Peru, and in Celendin, you can get a first class haircut for 5 Peruvian Soles, about $1.35 American. I told the barbers who were working that we usually pay $11 for each kid, and that is at the cheapest place in town. Their eyes widened and they started joking that they need to move the United States.
Then we told them that many places around where we live charge $20 or $25 for a kid’s haircut and $30 for a simple men’s haircut. That got them very excited.
Anyhow, as I sat and watched, I couldn’t help but notice what an excellent job the young man was doing. He took his time and sized up each child’s head.
He called my wife over to consult with her and get a second opinion before making his final plans. During the cut, he moved slowly and meticulously. He respectfully commented several times about the very poor job the previous barber had done. As an aside, I can’t recall a time when we were genuinely pleased with the haircut from the other barber.
I would say that you get what you pay for, given that we take our kids to the cheapest place in town. But the fact that we paid $1.35 for a superior haircut clearly burns that argument to the ground.
I don't remember a time when my sons ever looked more handsome. They got the haircut you always wish for when you go the barber, but rarely get.
This reminded me of a meal that I ate two days ago at a very humble restaurant in an extremely middle-class part of Lima.
I am sure that no tourist ever goes there. I was the only foreigner in there that day. We ended up in the place because a friend of my father-in-law recommended it to us.
Our desire was to eat really good “Criollo” cuisine at a fair price. In the district where our hotel was located, we were sure to overpay and be served food slightly modified to suit the tastes of visitors from other countries. By the way, Criollo is a catch all word in Peru meaning traditional or native.
Most of the Criollo cuisine in Peru originated on the northern Peruvian coast, especially in the big cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo.
Our friend told us that the restaurant had been around for 40 years, and the prices were fair. It took us about thirty minutes to get there, and the restaurant was located between an auto supply store on one side and a nail salon on the other. The clientele were everyday folks stopping in for lunch.
It isn’t a place you go for a special occasion. It is a place you go to all the time for good food. It is a neighborhood place. Since I didn’t know the neighborhood, I am certain that I would have walked right by it without giving it a second thought. There weren’t any gimmicks to it. There wasn’t anything flashy trying to draw your attention.
I ordered a plate that I really like, “Cabrito”, goat stew. Everybody else ordered their plates and we waited. My food came on a big, white, oval dish. On one side of the plate was rice. On the other side were slow cooked white beans.
In the middle of the rice and beans was a big piece of goat meat, on the bone. The meat had been stewed in orange chilies and other seasonings and the predominant color of the coating was orange. I cut through the goat, and it was just as soft as it could be.
When I bit in, it was perfect. The flavors exploded in my mouth. After every bite of meat, I scooped up rice and beans. I couldn’t stop eating. I ate and ate and ate until the plate was clean. Only then did I come up for air and look around.
Everybody else had been caught up in their own private reveries as well. Nobody was talking. We were all swept away by the food. After finishing my plate, I made an announcement to the table. I told them that this little restaurant was better than any we had in our hometown, and better than any I’d been to in the big cities near us.
We’ve got some expensive places in town that put out a good plate of food. But there is something missing from those places. Likewise, there are a lot of chocolate companies out there that are pretty good. However, there is something missing between pretty good and the best you’ve ever had.
In my opinion, the missing element is usually a lack of desire to do your absolute best. From doing business in Peru for going on 20 years now, I can assure you that Peruvians in general take food very seriously.
That is what I tasted in this place, and it is what I rarely taste back home. It isn't often you get the sense that whoever made what you are eating cared deeply about how it turned out.
I see all kinds of folks in the United States who are sticklers. I’ve had some great doctors and dentists over the years who you could tell genuinely cared about the outcome of their work. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to know some thorough plumbers and general contractors.
My formal education is in accounting, and I know just by looking if accounting work is done by somebody who really cares. As to our company, I am proud that we are one of the select few who care profoundly about the quality of our products.
Knowing that our customers are satisfied means the world to us.
We start obsessing about our chocolate from the moment the cacao pod comes off the tree in northern Peru, all the way until the time our wonderful customers enjoy it.
Hopefully you can tell 😊.
Anyhow, it is such a joy to see an operator who really cares, be it a barber, or a cook, a chocolate company, or a surgeon.
And it is an inspiration for me personally to continue to do the best I can on every job that is important to me.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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