Wolfgang Puck: Put Your Signature On It

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Business, Creativity/Innovation, Design, Marketing, Remarkability, Strategy

If you could achieve Wolfgang Puck’s success, would you? If you could go from being a young Austrian boy who was fired from his first cooking job to being a world renown chef and restauranteur with a global brand that includes 15 top rated restaurants (including the famous Spago Beverly Hills), 80 Gourmet Express locations, a catering company that hosts some of the biggest events around the nation (including the annual Academy Award’s Governor’s Ball), as well as producing a line of consumer packaged goods, kitchen appliances and utensils, books, media content and licensing, and television celebrity, would you want that? Probably! Without a doubt, life has been very good for the Austrian from Sankt Veit an der Glan.

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But what got him from there to here?
Apart from good fortune and good business partners, I’d suggest that the number one takeaway from his life would be the title of this edition of Remarkability Caffeine–he took ordinary things and put his signature on them.

When he first hit California, he worked at Ma Maison where he took french cooking and put his signature on it. Since California was bright, airy and health conscious he took classic french food and used lighter sauces and Californian ingredients to create a more healthy and fun french food.

Instead of a dark subdued and formal gourmet eating environment, he created light, airy and informal dining for gourmet food. He took an ordinary American favorite, pizza, and turned it into a fine dining option. His signature pizza was his smoked salmon and caviar pizza (something that clearly wasn’t on the menu of my hometown pizza joint back then).

He also took Asian cooking to a new level by creating a category called fusion (because he fused together American, Asian and French cooking). You may not recognize the term, but I’d venture a guess that at some point you’ve probably had a Chinois Salad (a chicken salad with a Chinese mustard vinaigrette dressing).Salad_chinois

The fact that some of these items seem so normal now is a tribute to the genius of Wolfgang Puck. For whenever you and I see genius, we quickly see others copying it (which is why the most remarkable people are always reinventing themselves and their businesses). Wolfgang Puck never stays still or content with what he’s done. Everyday is a new day for him to put his signature on something different.

So how about you? What have you put your signature on? Or what has your business put its signature on? What have you taken and made new? What makes you unique and different from everyone else? While benchmarking has it’s place, just keeping step with your competition is a losing proposition. You want to be the only one who does what you do. You want others copying you, not the other way around.

So what can you put your signature on? What is it that only you do? Refuse to be a "me too!" business. Take one thing you’re currently doing (that all of your competitors do as well) and figure out how you can do it differently. Go ahead, be remarkable. Put your signature on something today!

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