My friend Peter Himmelman is writing a book about the person inside of us that tries to prevent us from doing what we really want in life. He found my foray into the spice business inspiring, so he dedicated part of his book to the Reluctant Trading story. I was humbled to be asked by Peter to participate in this exciting project. Maybe you remember Peter when he wrote a hilarious theme song for Reluctant when I started the business.
Since it has been a year since Peter started writing the book, he called me the other day to write an addendum about how I am feeling today. Peter was in a bit of hurry, so he asked that I write something for him very quickly.
It was actually a good exercise since I hadn’t thought about my feelings very much lately. With such little time to reflect, I didn’t have a chance to do my usual over think. Here’s what spilled out of my mouth:
The best thing about my new direction is that I now have an excuse to engage with all sorts of creative people again. Chefs, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, directors, musicians. I went from sitting around my house trying to think of the perfect thing to do, almost paralyzed, to meeting with all of these inspiring people every day. It's not always comfortable having to prove yourself all over again. But when you have the breakthroughs, it's all the sweeter.
When I came up with the idea for The Land of Nod in 1996, I started with a business idea. With Reluctant Trading, I started with a product in search of a business. I needed to get my life moving again. I needed to connect with people. Have new experiences. Learn new things. It wasn’t a complete business idea, so I decided to subsequently call it an “Experiment” and get on with it.
I used to try to do everything as efficiently as possible. I became extremely focused on the bottom line. I tried to delegate as much as possible.
Today things are different. Since I’m the sole owner of my new business, I set different goals.
One of the goals is to enjoy the journey. To try to enjoy each and every day. To try to enjoy each and every person I meet, whether it's a customer, vendor or supplier. Okay, so it's not always possible, but I try.
I still sign each invoice because I don’t want to lose touch with my customers. I personally hand stamp every box. My wife and I still pack all of the salt and pepper bags. I prepare each and every shipping box and take it to the post office within 24 hours of receiving the orders. And I personally deliver each and every shipment of salt and pepper to the restaurants that I serve in Chicago.
Oh yes, there have been many times I’ve thought about hiring other people to do these jobs. But I’ve realized that I really do enjoy doing this stuff. I enjoy the variety. I'm actually able to get up from staring at the computer screen several times a day.
I've made all sorts of new friends. I'm getting to know Chicago again. Each day opens new possibilities.
Sure, I could probably make a lot more money if I did things differently. They don't teach the personal bottom line in B-School. But I actually think it makes perfect business sense. I think if I enjoy the journey, I’ll actually be more passionate and energetic. I think I'll radiate more good karma and that things will work out.
Or maybe they won't work out and the business will go under. But if that happens, I'll still be all the richer for it. And I know I will have enjoyed the journey.
By the way, Peter Himmelman is a Grammy and Emmy nominated musician with a stellar new album. He splits his time between making fantastic albums and teaching businesses how to unlock their creativity through his company Big Muse.