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Inspiring thoughts

Earlier this week at the annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, I was lucky enough to listen to a panel of James Beard Award-winning chefs discuss some of the keys to their success, everything from the benefits of asking for help to the need to take time away from work.

The panel included Rick and Deann Bayless, best known for Chicago’s Frontera Grill and Topolobampo; Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill Restaurants; and Barbara Lynch of Barbara Lynch Gruppo in Boston. Below are a few of their comments I found especially inspiring, and the best news is they apply not only to the restaurant industry, but also to life in general.

On making mistakes

“Failing is great, actually. It will make you stronger.” – Barbara Lynch

On asking for help

“You can reach out and ask people to help you. Even people who are wildly successful will help you.” – Mary Sue Milliken

“It’s never too late to learn, network and make friends.” – Barbara Lynch

On building strong employee relationships

“When you hire good people and give them responsibility to do something, the best thing is to let them do it rather than micromanaging.” – Rick Bayless

“Employees work for more than just a paycheck. If you see what each person needs to develop in terms of skills, that’s a bigger gift than money. But it takes time.” – Mary Sue Milliken

On leading a balanced life

“It’s very easy to let this profession take over your whole life. I have to be very disciplined about taking time off to recharge.” – Mary Sue Milliken

I realize these ideas are not necessarily revelations, but it was refreshing to hear them from people who have reached the highest level of their profession. It proves how important “simple” lessons often are.

What observations can you add to these words of wisdom? I would love to be inspired by your thoughts as well.

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