Founder of Studio Atao in New York City
“An important lesson I've learned is to always observe others and see how they move about in the world, how they approach relationships, and how they do things, how they learn, and see if there's anything useful/applicable to me. Even the most infuriating people I've interacted with have taught me some things (even if I wish that weren't the case), so that kind of learning mindset has helped me approach mundane, annoying, even aggravating situations with a more open mind.„
The most important piece of advice I’ve received has always been that there is no good time to make a big change. There's always the next promotion, the next bonus, the next break, etc. The best time to do the thing you want to do, whatever that is, is now.
As the saying goes, you can teach skills but you can't teach attitude. I am always looking for an improvement-minded, learning-forward attitude versus someone who has tactical experience.
I find inspiration through the parallels of food to other fields of study, like philosophy. “Philosophers At Table” (by Raymond Boisvert and Lisa Heldke) is a really excellent blending of those two things, and I really recommend for everyone to at least read a chapter and think through how you've come to the perspectives you have.
I continue to educate myself through reading and experimentation. Just like how it takes 10,000 hours to master something tactically, I think we need to be exercising our minds similarly.
I spent a year interning and volunteering in different roles within the food industry to see what I did and did not want. One particularly important one was being a barista at a fancy members-only club in Manhattan. I learned a lot (even if I didn't realize it at the time) about intersectionality, especially through a class lens, as well as circles of influence, and perhaps most importantly of paternalism. I saw how often people from different social statuses were so very convinced they had the "right" answer to solve the issues of those "less fortunate" than them, and would throw oodles of dollars convincing others, too, that their solutions were correct even if they were not tested or grounded in anything except individual exceptionalism.
Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.
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