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Sunday, July 22, 2012

what's luck got to do with it?

As part of his hiring process, the founder and CEO of Zappo's, Tony Hseih, asks candidates, "On a scale of one to ten, how lucky do you think you are? With one being, 'I don't know why bad things always happen to me, I stubbed my foot this morning'. And ten being 'I don't know why great things always happen to me'."

The reason that Tony asks that question is based on a research study where participants were asked that exact question. The participants were given the task of going through a newspaper and counting the number of pictures in that newspaper. When they were done counting, they were told to submit their answer to the researchers.

The people who considered themselves unlucky in life, went through and did the task of counting and came up with the right answer of 39. What none of them knew is that it was actually a fake newspaper, and sprinkled throughout the newspaper were headlines like, "If you are reading this headline right now, you can stop counting, the answer is 39, and plus you get an extra hundred bucks from the researcher." Whereas the people who considered themselves lucky in life, caught the headlines and collected the extra hundred dollars.

The take-away isn't so much that people are actually lucky or unlucky. It's that people who consider themselves to be lucky are actually just more open to opportunity and aren't so focused on just what is the actual task at hand, which is why Zappo's asks that question as part of their hiring process, because they want open-minded people who are opportunistic.

Tony goes on to apply the same principle to how he embraces opportunities to meet random people without any agenda in mind. He say's "It's not just about meeting people who can help your business right now. Just meet them because they are nice and interesting without worrying about what the angle is or what you can extract from them. Get to know them because you are truly interested, and you'll be surprised how you'll find ways that you may end up working together in a lucky turn of events that you never could have predicted when you originally met." 

This is just one of the nuggets of wisdom that I transcribed from Tony's 80 minute talk at Underground Online Seminar, http://www.undergroundonlineseminar.com/zappos/thanks.php about the innovative practices that compose the fabric of their company culture renowned for integrity and service. 

This anecdote caught my attention because it was the first time I have heard of a study that unpacks luckiness, and the conclusion drives home just how much our ability to be present in the moment plays into the opportunities that we encounter in life

How lucky in life are you?


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hausbar Farms

Gordito, a sweet bundle of a baby bunny who has a snug shady place to call home at Hausbar Farms.

The interconnectedness of living things is joyfully evident at Hausbar Farms, a 2-acre establishment in East Austin where farmer/owner Dorsey Barger lovingly tends to a bounty of plants and animals all the while looking to nature for cues on how to improve common agricultural practices. Dorsey is the first farmer who I have met in Austin implementing principles laid out in One Straw Revolution, a memoir by Masanobu Fukuoka, Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for developing natural farming techniques that "eliminate the need for pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and perhaps most significantly, wasteful effort."

My colleague, Lani, a chef and farmer from the west coast, saw okra growing for the first time on this trip to Austin! 

Okra is native to Africa and thrives in our Central Texas summer heat. Hausbar's okra looked as healthy as can be and measured in at least a foot taller than me! 

David harvesting mint and fennel flowers at Hausbar to garnish a citrus cantaloupe soup to cool us down after spending an hour in the heat - superb.

Hausbar does the majority of their business with local restaurants.  You can find this rare North African green on the menu at Kome. It's definitely tough to grow greens in Central Texas' summer heat, but these do quite well because they contain an aloe-like gel that keeps them cool. Unlike some other other hearty greens like mustard and dandelion  greens which can be bitter,  these were pleasantly mild. We simply sauteed them with a bit of garlic to make a nourishing side dish. Next time we'll have to have them with some of Chef Rosa's gluten-free injera!
Thank you again, Dorsey, for bringing such a beautiful vision to life and sharing it with us!


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