On Mediocrity

RollsWhy settle?

It’s not expensive to make a world-class roll. There are only a few ingredients, the recipe is straightforward (but not easy) and the ingredients don’t cost a penny extra.

Mediocre rolls are easier and more predictable. Once you figure out how to make a mediocre, tasteless, soggy roll, you can do it over and over again. Mediocre rolls can be baked by anyone, with very little care. And no one would ever go out of their way to purchase or consume a mediocre roll.

So why do we settle? Why bother being in the food business if you’re going to serve something you can’t possibly be proud of? Is making that extra dollar so important that all pride goes out the window?

Part of the curse of Wall Street is that enough is never enough. So short-term thinking sets in. Too many companies believe their owners (the stockholders) would rather have them make shlock and alienate customers to turn a little extra profit–even though it’s clear that this strategy virtually always leads to doom.

The real story here, though, has nothing to do with the stock market. It has to do with our willingness to settle for work product that just isn’t that good–at the same time we vote with our dollars to buy things and experiences that are exceptional.