Tag Archives: lessons

How to become a chef and become a writer

After reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, I realized that becoming a chef is not at all what I imagined. It takes a ton of time and involves getting dirty. You have to start from the ground up. I saw some similarities to the process of becoming a writer, or really, any creative job. Anthony Bourdain gives 14 tips on how to become a chef.

Let’s find out how many of those tips are helpful to become a writer, or any other creative job.

1. Be fully committed.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. It’ll be beneficial to make up your mind that writing is what you want to do. If you really don’t want to be a writer, then how will you find time/ energy to read and write all day long, or right after your day job? You probably won’t make the time, or find the energy. You need to really want it.

“Don’t be a fence-sitter or a waffler. If you’re going to be a chef someday, be sure about it, single-minded in your determination to achieve victory at all costs.” -Anthony Bourdain

2. Learn Spanish!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Probably not. Unless, you want to be a Spanish writer or appeal to a Spanish speaking audience.

3. Don’t Steal.

Is this helpful to become a writer? If you interpret this as don’t plagiarize, then yes. It’s not exactly what Anthony Bourdain meant, but if you want to become a writer plagiarizing is a major offense that you want to stay far away from. With all the reading a writer is doing, it’s almost as tempting to plagiarize as it is for a chef to steal from their restaurant.

“In fact, don’t do anything that you couldn’t take a polygraph test over…If you’re a sneak and a liar, however, it will follow you forever. This is a small business; everybody knows everybody else. You will do yourself immeasurable harm.” -Anthony Bourdain

4. Always be on time.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If you have a writing job, then of course yes. If you have scheduled writing hours set aside daily, do yourself a favor and never skip them. How else do you expect to get better? This tip translates to almost any career.

5. Never make excuses or blame others.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes, of course. Writers have deadlines. If you don’t reach the deadline, then it’s your fault. Admit it and do better next time.

6. Never call in sick.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. Unless, you’re so sick that you can’t move. It is best to try and get your work done. Especially, if you are falling behind on a deadline.

“Except in cases of dismemberment, arterial bleeding, sucking chest wounds or the death of an immediate family member. Granny died? Bury her on your day off.” -Anthony Bourdain

7. Lazy, sloppy and slow are bad.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yeah! Turn in great work. Turn it in ready to be shipped. I’ve edited other writing before, and it sucks when it’s obvious they didn’t even try to correct some of their grammar errors and misspellings. Don’t be a lazy writer. You’ll quickly get labeled as the lazy writer/ person.

“Enterprising, crafty and hyperactive are good.” -Anthony Bourdain

8. Be prepared to witness every variety of human folly and injustice.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If a writer is making more money than you, and you think you’re better, don’t worry about it. You got to focus on your own target and goals. Don’t get distracted by comparing yourself to others. It’s not healthy nor is it helpful.

“Without it screwing up your head or poisoning your attitude. You will simply have to endure the contradictions and inequalities of this life. ‘Why does that brain-damaged, lazy-assed busboy take home more money than me, the goddamn sous-chef?’ should not be a question that drives you to tears of rage and frustration. It will just be like that sometimes. Accept it.” -Anthony Bourdain

9. Assume the worst. 

Is this helpful to become a writer? I don’t know. This one might be more chef specific since they have to interact with the same people everyday whether they like them or not. Usually, writers have a bit more flexibility throughout the day. This tip is meant for chefs who might not like one of their coworkers. Bourdain is advising to find their company entertaining, and amusing, regardless of how you feel about the person.

10. Try not to lie.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. This is good practice for any line of work. You don’t want people questioning what you say.

“Remember, this is the restaurant business. No matter how bad it is, everybody probably has heard worse. Forgot to place the produce order? Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.” -Anthony Bourdain

11. Avoid restaurants where the owner’s name is over the door.

Is this helpful to become a writer? No. Unless, you’re writing for a restaurant?

“Avoid restaurants that smell bad. Avoid restaurants with names that will look funny or pathetic on your resume.” -Anthony Bourdain

12. Think about that resume!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. You should always keep your resume in mind, no matter what line of work you’re in. Your resume will get you your next job.

“How will it look to a chef weeding through a stack of faxes if you’ve never worked in one place longer than six months?” -Anthony Bourdain

13. Read!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yes! You have to read. 24/ 7. Bourdain recommends cookbooks and trade magazines to keep up with the industry trends. While, you don’t have to keep up with trends, you should always be reading the writing of great writers. It will help your writing. Have you ever heard of a musician who doesn’t listen to music?

14. Have a sense of humor about things.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. In writing and life, a sense of humor is required ūüôā .

“You’ll need it.” -Anthony Bourdain

What to do after an important goal is achieved

What happens when you finally achieve an important goal?

What happens when you finally get paid more? What happens when you finally open a gym membership, or get your diet corrected? What happens when you finally find some cool friends, or upgrade your dating life?

What happens next?

Take a moment to enjoy it. Take a breather. Take the day off, and just do what makes you happy. No pressures. No worries. Because, we know that you’re probably going to come up with a new goal tomorrow. We all do it. Enjoy your victory.

If you like reading, let yourself sit around and read all day. If you like sports, let yourself indulge in a few sports games. If you like a certain food, I guess, go ahead and indulge in it.

We could be hard charging all the time, but is that really a wise way to live?

Recently, I was watching a short documentary on a 109 year old man. He was dropping his pearls of wisdom. He was telling his secrets for¬†a long life. Honestly, you could tell he was a happy guy. Why? Because he was smiling the entire time. People who say they’re happy, but never smile, are not happy. I don’t believe them. If you’re happy, you smile. Period.

I’ve seen people who claim to be happy, yet they barely smiled throughout our conversation. Yeah. Sure. I don’t believe you for, even, one second. Regardless, of what you claim. Being happy equals smiling.

Anyway, this old man lives life by doing things he enjoys. If it makes him happy, he does it. If it doesn’t make him happy, he doesn’t do it. Simple. At 109 years old, he might be onto something ūüôā .

He smokes cigars all day. Why? It makes him happy. He feeds his cats every morning. Why? It makes him happy. He begins his day whenever he wakes up. Even, if it’s 2 am or 3 am. Why? It makes him happy. He has four cups of coffee every morning. Why? It makes him happy. He sometimes indulges in whiskey. Why? You can probably guess. He enjoys a small bowl of ice cream in the evenings. Why? Yes, you’re correct. It makes him happy.

Maybe, we don’t want to live our entire life simply doing things that make us happy. But, why not after a major victory? If it makes you happy, go ahead, go for it.

Roaches, standards and being too picky

What is the difference between having standards and being too picky? Where do you draw the line?

I had an experience this weekend that made me ask that question. Did¬†I have high standards, or was I simply being too picky? I’ll let you be the judge.

After searching for a new place to move into, I finally found one that had all the requirements I was looking for. Cool roommate, ideal location and affordable rent price. When I checked out the place 3 weeks prior, I did notice something that alarmed me. I saw three dead cockroaches on the kitchen counter tops. I asked the landlord/ potential future roommate if he had a roach issue.

The guy said no, and that he started noticing a few here and there only weeks ago. He said not to worry, because on move-in day they would be completely gone. He promised to clean up the house and get the roaches exterminated himself.

A few days later, I decided to take the room. I put down my deposit, shook his hand, and proceeded to wait for 3 weeks until move in day.

Finally, move in day arrived. I showed up to my new apartment, with my belongings, excited about the next few months. When I walked in I noticed something that got me worried.

I saw a few dead roaches scattered around the living room, and much much more in the kitchen. I even found two alive in my empty bedroom. I asked him what happened to his promise.

He said he had been working on spraying the house, and that they were dying. In my opinion, the issue looked significantly worse. WAY worse. I tried to remain cool and stated that we could work on it together and spray the house with Raid until they were completely eliminated (deep down inside I’m hesitant that it’ll be enough).

I walked into my new room, for a closer examination, and noticed that it was dusty and dirty. I decided that I should clean it up before bringing any of my belongings inside. I drove off to the local Target, only two miles down the street, to purchase some cleaning supplies. I bought a 3-pack of roach fumigation canisters, 2 Raid spray cans, disinfectant spray, and Swiffer wipes (he already had the mop).

I got back to the apartment and my future roommate was gone running errands (he had told me he would be gone). I unlocked the door and the place was completely dark (it was already dark outside). I turned on my phone’s flashlight, and proceeded to walk into the kitchen (the only light switch I knew of). To say the least, I didn’t like what I saw.

My flashlight poured onto the counter tops and I saw ROACHES EVERYWHERE. Easily 20 to 30 roaches. When I turned on the kitchen light most of them scattered out of sight. I went to grab a Raid spray can and sprayed those that were still in sight.

I noticed a huge roach scatter, and climb into the toaster. WTF.

I noticed roaches crawling all over the fridge. Again, WTF.

I thought to myself, this is not good. At this point, I was definitely worried. How was I supposed to cook and eat everyday when the roaches were all over the toaster, fridge, dishes and stove?

I walked back into my room after spraying roaches, for a few minutes, in the kitchen. I noticed three new roaches inside. I looked at the hallway walls and saw a few roaches there too. I walked into the bathroom and noticed roaches in there too. Three in the bathtub to be exact.

WTF.

I asked myself, “am I being too picky or do I have certain standards? Am I exaggerating the issue or am I simply too afraid to live outside of my comfort zone?” You can be the judge of that.

At this point, I’m was not excited anymore. A feeling of dread was creeping in. I felt like leaving and calling it all off. This was NOT what I was looking for.

But again, I said to myself, you shouldn’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone.

I know I’ve seen tons of comfort zone related pictures on Instagram. Is this what they are talking about?

I began cleaning my room. Dusting, sweeping and mopping. I even sprayed the perimeter with Raid. Around 80% through, I decided, that I didn’t care about stepping outside of my comfort zone, and into this specific situation. I know comfort zones are not ideal, but I didn’t care about exploring this zone.

I was not going to live comfortably. Period. Roaches were even crawling on the walls. It seemed out of control to me. It was clearly an infestation.

I texted the guy, asking when he would be returning. He responded with 15 minuets. I stepped outside to think and stood by my car.

I decided, that I didn’t care if I was being too picky. It was my money and I would have never agreed to this.

The guy finally comes back and we stepped into his apartment¬†to chat. I told him that the roach situation was exaggerated. As we talked, I kept interrupting him by pointing out new roaches. I asked him, “How many roaches have you sprayed in the 10 minuets that we have been chatting?”

He said, “10 to 15.”

As he said that, a huge roach crawled next to him on the sofa. He flicked it off and sprayed it.

Roaches were even on the SOFA.

I told him that this was not what I had agreed to. He tried to convince me to stay for at least one month while he searched for another roommate. He assured me that the roaches would be completely gone in two weeks. Even if that was true, which I highly doubted, was I supposed to deal with roaches in the toaster and on the sofa for the upcoming two weeks?

I can’t. He said, “In that case, I’ll be forced to keep your deposit.”

“That’s understandable. Good luck with the roaches and finding a new roommate,” I said.

That’s the end of my experience, and the story.

Would you judge it as a standards issue or being too picky? When do you draw the line between the two?

Is this a case of being too hesitant to step outside of my comfort zone?

Being addicted to constant distractions

Last week, I spent my Thursday and Friday at the Search Love Conference in San Diego, CA. It was very good and I learned a lot about SEO, back-links, Google and content marketing. This post is not about what I learned though. This post is about what I observed while at the conference.

The conference included two long days of back to back to back speakers. It was mentally draining and at times I did feel my concentration levels faltering. I can definitely understand the need to look around, and play on your phone, to attempt to regain focus. But what about if I stared at my phone the entire time? Or maybe looked at my laptop the entire time?

At each location I sat, I was surrounded by one or two people completely immersed in their laptops. I sat in three different spots, in different areas of the room, and at each spot I was next to someone who was completely distracted on their laptop.  Literally, they were paying zero attention to the speakers. They probably looked up three or four times.

I could see their computer screens and they were browsing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, news sites, the official conference website and checking their gmail. Really???

I thought it was pretty ridiculous that these people payed, to attend a conference, only to be checking their social media accounts the entire time. Talk about being addicted to constant distractions.

I’m sure there were many others that I didn’t see. Of course there must have been, because I wasn’t looking for them. I noticed the three or four people, I did notice, because they were sitting right next to me or in front of me.

I’m glad I wasn’t that person, and I hope I’m never that person who needs constant distractions.