Appreciating Through Experience

Processing dairy is not as straightforward as it seems, and is among the most laborious and complicated tasks I’ve ever done. After spending my summer vacation in Italy making goat cheese, I have become much more appreciative towards dairy products. My palate recognises the blood, sweat, and tears that have been spilled in the undertaking of their formation. When my taste buds come in contact with the flavour, I am brought back to the site in which I lactated those unruly beasts. Perhaps due to my experience, I am capable of recognising the “backstage” effort of producing milk, which many do not know about and can’t appreciate.

In a similar fashion, I have become very aware that running a business is incredibly challenging. Who would have thought that operating a snow cone stand would have been such a difficult feat? While it may seem effortless, do not undermine the amount of work needed in order to run it successfully. I have learned that — though a paper cone-shaped cup and a mound of ice can generate income — being an entrepreneur is not the simplest of endeavours. One benefit of choosing snow cones as my way to make money was that I would have very little overhead. With few ingredients, I would quickly be on my way to becoming a shaved ice superstar. However, this has proven not to be the case; after several months, our group still hasn’t executed a sale.

The other day, I went to Papachos (a burger joint) for dinner. At the end of my meal, the waitress politely asked me if I was willing to fill out a customer feedback form. The first question requested the date. I was seconds away from bullshitting a response, when I realised I could be having a big impact on the company’s analytics mechanisms. Every business, no matter how large or small, runs on data. As a result, they are able to make informed decisions about their markets and products. I checked my phone, knowing I was providing valuable data for Papachos. I thought deeply about the questions asked in the survey, and applied them to my own business. I realised that the Innovation Academy has instilled in me a “backstage” conscience not many people have, because it’s a program based on experience.

By the same token, I have become much more sensible to mishaps. Shit can happen. Our equipment failed on us, and I know how helpless it can make a person feel. Truly, there is nothing to be done in certain circumstances. I now know that customer frustration does not help, and often times makes the situation worse. On one of our posts, a fellow classmate told our group we should quit. Who can blame him? We did not provide the service we had promised: he should have every right to be upset. I — however — have noticed a change in my behaviours since joining the IA. I am no longer as rude, impatient, and critical towards other businesses as a client. Currently, an artist is creating a metal sculpture of a bicycle as my room decor. When I heard he was weeks behind schedule due to an injury, I was extremely lenient. I knew the same scenario could happen to me.