The Ketchup Philosophy

Some people seem to be really amazed at how I seem to come up with new areas of insight and inspiration for their projects. Truly, the secret is practice. I practice finding inspiration and insight in everything. That’s also the way I find new opportunities for our restaurant consulting company. Once one attunes themselves, suddenly the world is overflowing with motivation and opportunity at every turn.

For example, I was eating lunch here at my desk (yes, even restaurant designers eat at their desks) and as I tore open those little packets of ketchup, I suddenly reflected on how honesty and integrity are not things that are easily taught anymore. Yes, I can see the question marks dancing in front of your faces already. Honesty and Integrity from looking at ketchup packets? Certain odd and unusual things do spark the thought process. No, it’s not some transcendental ‘higher plane of thought’ Chinese philosophy. Usually, these are the kind of lessons inbred into a child when their parents’ hopefully model those qualities throughout ones’ early years. Then, as we grow older, we recognize it. When we meet a person of integrity, it shows in them. You can sense a person of integrity right away. You know instinctively that there will be no shortcuts or dishonesty, regardless of the consequences with such a person.How did all that come from a ketchup package? The name on the package was Heinz, you know, Henry J. Heinz, of the “57 varieties” fame. The name sparked memory of a story about him. Henry was one of those “square-shooters”, as they used to call men of honesty and integrity back in the day.

Here’s the tale: He had hired a new employee, and happened to be walking by him at the weigher’s platform, checking in a farmer’s load of vegetables. The young man called to Heinz “We are getting you good weight today, Mr. Heinz,”
“Fine!” said Heinz. Then he paused, turned back and asked quizzically, “What exactly are you doing for me?””Why, you know – a quick eye, a quick hand, and you can always slip over a few pounds extra.” smiled the smug kid. Heinz nodded, and a little later in the hour he asked the employee to come with him to the accounting office. Once there he turned to the young man. “This is the cashier’s office. You will get your pay check and leave this place at once.””But, Mr. Heinz,” said the surprised man, “I was saving you money!””You were robbing a man who was selling to me,” Heinz said. “And you were robbing me of something more precious. There is only one way to weigh or to do anything else. Be as square to the other fellow as to yourself.”

That’s integrity. Be it in the form of ketchup packet stories or running your food service, it is the most important commodity you or I will ever have.
Can you imagine what American business would be like if we ALL lived by the Golden Rule? Insurance rates would drop, product prices would come down…and we could probably pay off our national debt. Well, maybe not that gigantic ‘stimulus’ package, but you know what I mean. The point is everything has got to start with people like Henry Heinz, and you and me…and our integrity. So, look for inspiration wherever you are, even in the little things. Learn to share it with your organization at every turn. Then, go out and have an honest day at work. Make integrity and honesty work for you.

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