We counted back through the years. The last time we’d been to New York for fun was 1992. Oh sure, I’d made a number of business trips since. But being a ‘business hostage’ inside some anonymous Ramada Inn basement (sorry, conference room) doesn’t count as a life memory.
Plan A: There’s always a ‘tension’ in our family during holidays. In work, I tend to be robotic, working long, planned hours. Then on holidays, my brain automatically reverts to mush and I don’t want to think about anything. But Linda insisted. If we didn’t put an itinerary together, the week would evaporate and we’d get nothing done. Guess who ‘won’ that debate? (again).
Standout Diner: I’d never even heard of Ellen’s Stardust Diner. In a city choc-a-bloc with restaurants, what was the point of singling out one in particular? When we got there, a long queue streaked around the corner and the guy on the door estimated the wait as ‘one hour buddy’. We’d walked past 40 half-empty diners to get here. The kids were starving and cranky – waiting another hour didn’t seem like a good idea – even if it was ‘on that stupid itinerary’. Despite my protests, wait we did (at one time, I’d suggested that Linda attend assertiveness classes, but she seems fully cured now!).
Singing Waiters: Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we were told (in advance) that the food in the diner was mediocre. But, it has an edge as follows. The waiters and waitresses are all ‘out of work’ or wannabe Broadway musical actors. Working off backing tracks, they sang a range of contemporary and classical musical numbers while serving food. Looking directly into Linda’s eyes, one particularly good looking waiter sang the Sam Smyth song ‘Stay With Me’. I couldn’t get her out of the place. The overall show was MC’d by a large guy, who had enough personality for 3 normal people. Funniest comment: “We’re waiting tables and singing our little hearts out. Yes, living the dream”. Brilliant.
There are lots of places to eat in New York. But not that many where you queue for an hour in the cold. And say afterwards, it was worth every minute. In a competitive market, Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Manhattan has an edge. In a competitive business environment, arguably every business needs to have an edge. Marketers like to call this a USP (unique selling proposition). Turns out that exactly the same point applies to each of us. So, what’s your USP?
PS Best Read: I’ve never really understood the value of stockbrokers and put this down to ignorance on my part. If business needs to raise capital, isn’t that what banks are for? Perhaps this view is not unique. In 2009, an article in the magazine Rolling Stone described Goldman Sachs as: “A great Vampire Squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. Ouch! Anyway, all that’s changed now since the market crash. The key lessons have been learned and a new form of high-finance ethics stalks the land. Right? To get the latest insights into a ‘Reformed Wall Street’ read Flashboys by Michael Lewis. This is not just investigative journalism. Writing of this quality is genius. Read it and weep.
PPS Lighter Note: The Deaf Wife Problem
Bert feared his wife Peg wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family Doctor to discuss the problem. The Doctor mentioned a simple test the husband could perform to provide a better idea about the scale of her hearing loss.
‘Here’s what you do,’ said the Doctor, ‘Stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response.’
That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and Bert was in the den. He says to himself, ‘I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens.’ Then in a normal tone he asks, ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?’
So the husband moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, ‘Peg, what’s for dinner?’
Still no response.
Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his Wife and asks, ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?’
Again he gets no response.
So, he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?’
So he walks right up behind her. ‘Peg, what’s for dinner?’
‘For **-# sake, Bert, for the FIFTH time, CHICKEN’
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