I recently heard a fascinating interview with world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, owner of Red Rooster Harlem and Ginny’s Supper Club in New York City. Born in Ethiopia, he and his sister were adopted by a Swedish family as young children after their mother died of tuberculosis.
His new memoir, Yes, Chef, tells a fascinating story of food, family and learning to cook in his beloved grandmother Helga’s kitchen. But what impressed me just as much as his spicy blend of Swedish and Ethiopian cultures, was his attitude about his early education. His stories about the intimacy of the kitchen, the discipline of the staff, even the histrionics of the head chef are rich with respect for the rigorous demands of becoming a top chef.
Chef Samuelsson talks about working for the “hidden paycheck” in those formative years. Putting up with minimum wage, steaming hot work conditions, and the occasional scallop seared into this cheek, he says, were nothing compared to what he received from his hidden paycheck. That is, the opportunity to learn at the hands of bona fide experts.
- What’s the hidden paycheck you receive when you volunteer to work on a project pro bono?
- What’s the intangible value-added when you reduce your fee so you can work with someone you admire?
- What’s the payoff in trying something completely new, even though you’re secretly afraid you might make a fool of yourself?
Possibly most important of all, ask yourself the following:
What is the hidden paycheck that you offer your team, interns and vendors? How much is the hidden paycheck worth to them when you invest in their futures?
Because the hidden paycheck works both ways, you know. Yes, Chef!