The other night I went to see Patricia Barber perform at the Jazz Standard.
It was a tremendous experience. For over an hour, Patricia went to a new place and brought us with her. She used her voice and her piano to make art, right then, right there.
No one in the room said, "she’s just trying to sell albums," or felt like she was phoning it in. She was present and she demanded that everyone in the room engage at the same level.
Danny Meyer runs the Standard in much the same way. The service standards and generosity that you see in his restaurants aren’t manipulations designed to improve profits. It’s an art. A gift. A different way of thinking about what you do and why you do it.
The wonderful irony (for the two of them and for any of us) is that this generosity and this approach to art just happens to pay off. In an increasingly commodified world, it turns out that genuine expressions of kindness and art are valued more than ever.
Do you know what the difficult part is? It’s not the art. Not the talent or the skill. It’s the deciding. Making the decision to be an artist instead.