Friday, April 13, 2012

Sushi Lessons

I really savor sushi. Consequently I was excited to see the new film Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Excellent documentary! It leaves you hungry, but also with some key learning for succeeding in today’s business world. Below is a summary of the sushi lessons I personally learned from Jiro Ono.

Read On:
Jiro Ono is the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo. Despite the fact his restaurant only seats ten guests, he is world renown and has won the prestigious 3 star French Michelin review. At 86 he is the oldest Michelin chef alive. Below are some great sushi lessons Jiro has taught me to apply to business:

· Details, Details, Details – Great marketers understand that it is all about the details. At the risk of being too critical, I have lost count of how many times I have witnessed outdated content on company websites (e.g., promotions that have expired, last year’s trade show schedule, etc.)

· Simplicity Reigns – In culinary terms, the expression is Umami – Japanese term for pleasant savory taste. In business terms, simplicity equals balance. Jiro’s son goes to market everyday to purvey fresh fish. They prepare each piece of sushi to perfection, right down to the right touch of wasabi so it should not over power the flavor of the fish. The same holds true when it comes to strategic initiatives in business. Less tactics, combined with simple elements of execution, the better the program versus over processing with multiple steps.

· New Challenges – Everyday Jiro, even after all these years, challenges his team to perform at a higher level than the previous day. A great lesson for every company. Reminds me of a Seth Godin classic titled “Slowly I Turned...Step by Step…Inch by Inch…”

· Teamwork/Loyalty – Every individual in Jiro’s restaurant has a specific job they have been trained for, right down to the individual that makes the rice that Jiro has been buying from the same supplier all these years. The sum of the parts leads to a memorable; twenty piece sushi eating experience that has earned the highest award – 3 Michelin stars.

Some great business lessons from Jiro Ono.

Oh yes! I forgot to mention that sushi at Jiro’s restaurant costs 31,500 yen ($390). That does not include airfare and hotel.


  1. My mouth is watering... Looking forward to seeing this film. Thanks for distilling his lessons into business terms. Sounds fascinating (and motivating).
    PS: The theatre where this will likely show here in ATL has one of the best sushi places in town right next door. I had better make a note to make a reservation after the film...

  2. Jimmy,

    So true. An obsessive attention to detail seems to be the mark of many successful ventures and firms, ranging from Steve Jobs at Apple to Vince Lombardi at the Green Bay Packers.

    Coupled with applying the KISS principle and building a loyal team, the result is generally world class success.