What a week!  Meetings disrupted, things rescheduled and more snow on the way.  Fortunately, in the near term it’s Friday so we can celebrate another installment of Foodie Friday Fun.  In all candor, at this point I’d take a Monday in May right now over a weekend with snow in the forecast.

The second half of the quick-fire challenge on Top Chef last week was interesting.  Having succeeded at cutting fish to Le Bernardin‘s supremely high standards, the winners were asked to cook using the waste materials.  That, of course sparked a business thought.

I’ll let Tony Bourdain, the judge who ran the competition, explain:

I asked the top four to do what every good cook, in every great cooking culture — what talented home cooks, grandmothers, street food vendors, chefs, and hungry people struggling to make something delicious out of not very much — have been doing since the beginning of time: make something delicious and enticing out of those pieces that the wealthy, the lazy, and the entitled often consign to the garbage. This is exactly what defines a good cook — throughout history…the ability to make the tough, the ugly, the bony, and scraggly into something loved, respected, and even revered — is the fundamental engine of good cooking.

What I thought about was how this was the same skill set every great business person – and especially every great entrepreneur – possesses.  How can we take what others have overlooked and make something great out of it?  How can we capitalize on a new idea which comes out of the tidbits that are just lying around, neglected or thrown-away?

Genius to me is the ability to see things that others don’t.  It’s finding new insights into the same old garbage – literally, in this case.  That can be as simple as helping an employee rediscover the talents that lie within themselves or as complex as solving the energy crisis with materials we’ve had for years.  Entrepreneurs operate the same way.  Most new businesses are derivative of something else.  The successful ones contain the genius of seeing something others didn’t.

Look around.  What do you see that others are tossing aside?  Where’s the dish in there?  Let me know.

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