A Recipe for Happiness and Success

"Carl Casper" - the Chef

His talent was seemingly unlimited. He had burst on the scene with the promise of being one of the best ever. He had an imagination which paired foods and seasonings never before seen – or tasted.  He had a flair for creating flavors which seduced palates and satisfied the senses like no one before him. The food critics raved and wrote of the promise shown by this excitingly talented new chef.

He was hired as the executive chef for a fine dining restaurant with the assurances that the kitchen was his to run – and his alone. The crowds came and the diners left full and satisfied. However, he was so committed to his work – so focused on his career – that his personal life began to suffer. Divorced, he found it hard to make time for his son, yet he continued to place virtually all of his efforts on his craft.

His excitement was piqued upon finding out that one of the country’s most widely-read critics would be in to review the restaurant. He was committed to present a meal which matched the excitement and imagination with which he first made his mark. He created a new menu then set out to purchase only the freshest and finest ingredients.

There was only one problem. The owner became emphatic that the tried and true menu would be the offering. The kitchen it turned out, was not his domain after all. The critic panned him – his food – and he lost it. First through social media and then in person, the chef’s confrontation was videoed, went viral and the chef was out of work – unable to get hired.

He ended up on a long and twisted and unexpected path which found him becoming the owner of a food truck in Miami. He drove the length of the country in the truck, selling food in major cities along the way. His travels began to get him noticed once again. A groundswell of support grew to a tidal wave of success and fame by the time he arrived back in Los Angeles. He was back – literally and figuratively. He once again was recognized as a uniquely talented chef. He settled his issues with his family. He and the critic were able to bury the hatchet and focus on the future. His son had once again become a priority in his life.

This new found success and happiness did not make him a fearless brand. His phenomenal turnaround was due to the fact that Carl Casper was able to reconnect with the fearless brand he always had been.

Fearless Brands strike the perfect balance between passion, skill and relevance.

You may now be wondering who the heck is Carl Casper. You should really get to know him. Carl is the lead character in a movie – Chef –  which is currently in theaters. The movie was written and produced by Jon Favreau – who also starred in the role of Carl Casper.  The movie is about – you guessed it – a chef. That is only the thread for one of the most powerfully entertaining movies I’ve seen in some time. Of equal importance are the life lessons the movie delivers – the story of building a fearless brand.

I have been intentionally generic in my description of the movie – and have done so for two reasons. Number one, I don’t want to spoil a very fine movie  Number two, I am giving you a “homework assignment.” Read these powerful lessons gleaned from the movie – then go see it in the theater. Why? Simple, the lessons will have much more impact and you will enjoy a wonderful movie. 

Passion, skill and relevance have to be in balance – Carl’s passion for cooking was unequaled – as was his talent. As a result, he created and served meals which diners clamored for. Over time, his passion diminished and his relevance suffered. His menu became stale, expected and boring as did Carl.

Living a ‘values based life’ beats a ‘career centered life’ hands down – Every aspect of Carl’s life was consumed by his career. He lost touch with the full array of life’s magic and his personal life fell apart as a result.

We get to design our own success – The restaurant owner’s vision of success was different from Carl’s. The owner believed that ‘if you cook it (the tried and true menu) they will come. Carl knew that presenting exciting, new and invigorating menus would be even more successful. Carl allowed himself to become a captive in his job because he lost his vision.

Plan your life – be proactive, not reactive – I recently heard the term ‘being hit by the cosmic 2×4’. This was used in the context of life delivering change in an unexpected – and unpleasant way. That is what happened to Carl. He was miserable in his work environment yet believed ‘things would change’. That they did – just not in a manner Carl expected nor wanted. He was forced to take charge of his life and career once again. As his vision for his future returned, so did his happiness and success.

Understand Social Media before you ‘dive in’ – All I’ll say on this is that when you see the movie it will make sense. One of the great lines was by the critic who said “What made you pick a fight with me?” Priceless.

I was completely surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie Chef.  I found it to be very entertaining – ranging from easy laughter to tension filled drama. Importantly, the life lessons – the branding lessons – were powerfully delivered. There may be no more enjoyable way to be shown how to build your own fearless brand than by seeing this flick. I promise you that you will be entertained and enlightened. Go see it, you’ll thank me.

Friday's Fearless Brand

Coach, International Speaker and Thought Partner - Bill’s mission is to add value to the world – one brand at a time. Bill guides individuals and companies alike in building what he refers to as a ‘fearless brand’. This is the process of discovering, embracing and delivering their greatest value – which allows them to realize greater profit. Read More

4 comments on “A Recipe for Happiness and Success
  1. dubaitara says:

    Loved this movie and am astounded at your perspicacity – branding truly is part of your DNA. Brilliant.

  2. Bill Ellis says:

    Thanks so much Tara. I appreciate your comments for their meaning – but also because they always expand my vocabulary – perspicacity – love it. Thanks.

  3. Lori Feldman says:

    Bill, I also loved everything about this movie, which I saw with my mother. The generational “memes” were another lesson in the movie: my mother (and Carl) were flummoxed by the social media references and “magical” outcomes–instigated primarily by Carl’s son, the digital native. What a world we live in! Great post.

    • Bill says:

      Hi Lori – thanks for your comments. The movie was amazing – far exceeded my expectations. The entire social media angle was hysterical – regardless of age. So many people have no clue about social media – much less about how to use it (or NOT use it). Carl’s son was a star in the movie in every aspect. Again, thanks.

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