Be Unpopular

fancy-restaurantOn Sunday night, I had dinner at RockSugar in Century City (the Jetson-style skyscraper park in Los Angeles). It’s typically impossible to get into, unless you are willing to wait a few hours. Along with my “I’m hungry now!” family, I waltzed into this one-of-a-kind Pan Asian palace, which is lined with golden statutes of Thai Buddha heads twice as tall as the tallest man I know and burning fire pits enclosed in shimmering glass throughout the cabana style outdoor seating area.

When the rest of the world goes right – you go left

We enjoyed a ten-course tasting menu. On a whim, we bought an enamel belt buckle cobbled by an artisan oceans away, which we saw on the waiters who were walking rather than running around the room. The maître de brought it over to us, himself.

Three weeks ago, also on a Sunday, we rolled into Blue Plate Oysterette, a hot as Lady Gaga dining spot in Santa Monica where the vibe is so cool, I’m not sure I belong there, even when I finally get a table. Although when I do it is cheek to jowl with Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth (agent/betrothed). Try the macaroni and cheese with lobster; it’s to die for.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Last Sunday night was the Oscars, featuring the more famous golden statue. All the celebrities and their support personnel: agents, managers and such folks are locked up in the Kodak amphitheater, or in fabulous ballrooms with the likes of Elton John. The remaining civilians of Los Angeles are home watching the extravaganza on TV, along with a billion other viewers at home around the world.

The streets and restaurants are empty.

Did I mention I was doing something unpopular, when I could have been holed up at home in front of my television? I was enjoying a most delicious dinner at an unusually unhurried pace with three servers and the maitre’ d, fussing over my party.

On Superbowl Sunday, I had a similar delicious and gracious experience at the penultimate café by the beach. My party was fine dining by the sea while nearly everyone else was sticking a stale chip into a questionable mixture of avocado and who knows what.

These are the rewards of doing something different than most of the rest of the world does, at least gastronomically speaking.

Are you willing to be unpopular to get what you want and enjoy it? Are you willing to work while others sleep? Are you willing to wear a tie or whatever is the female equivalent, when your friends get to wear flip-flops? Are you willing to work Christmas Eve day, when all the secretaries are gone and the decision-maker just might answer your phone call?

The path to success has never been more obvious than it is today. Winning personal brands are going against the tide of common behavior, attitudes and two-thumbed communication. You must be uncommon.

Being uncommon

Come in early and stay late. Take people to lunch – not meet for coffee. Buy stationary and write notes (and mail them!). Buy someone a book that reflects your intellect instead of sending a link to its page on Amazon.

Be cordial. Be curious. Be generous. Be a real friend. Be a great employee or consultant or songwriter, or whatever it is you are. Yes, the people in the next office, cubicle or table at Starbucks might sneer. You risk losing your regular guy reputation when you raise your standards.

The fastest way to raise the odds of your being a success is doing what is unpopular. And, that’s delicious.

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