Periwinkles

My wife has a non-negotiable rule about eating out: Don't order anything you'd make for yourself at home. No chicken. No salmon. No spaghetti. If you're going to lay out that kind of cash for a meal, make it an experience.

She took that rule to an extreme for my 2012 birthday dinner: We went to an incredible place called Stone Soup Cottage, just west of St. Louis. This place opened in 2009; by 2010, it had been named the top restaurant in St. Louis. It's that good.

When you go to Stone Soup Cottage, you eat what they decide to feed you. There's no menu with a million options. They give you a list of what you'll be eating that night. Take it or leave it. It's called a tasting menu — six small-portion courses, some of them paired with wine.

Right away, I liked it. No menu meant no decisions — and fewer things to worry about. I didn't even mind that two of the courses featured truffles (which I hate) and that a third consisted entirely of something called “periwinkles” (which was obviously a fictional food). No matter — this was going to be a god's-honest experience.

And it was. Simply put, it might have been the best meal I've ever had. The chef wasn't spread too thin over an overpopulated menu. He could concentrate on those few things, thoughtfully and artfully prepared. It was heaven.

“So what's the point?” you're asking.

Here it is: Take a few chances every now and then.

Sure, you can take the safe route, do the same old tired thing over and over again and produce the same old results. You might even make some money.

Here's what you won't do:

  • Learn anything new.
  • Stay on top of the latest trends.
  • Help your clients stay on top of the latest trends.
  • Notice the “weak signals of disruptive change” and the game-changing opportunities they provide.
  • Improve yourself.
  • Stay relevant.

In Tom Hood-speak, your learning won't be greater than the rate of change. You'll keep coasting ignorantly along until change crushes you.

So do yourself a favor: Try the periwinkles.

Turns out they're awesome.

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