The Celery Test — A Simple Framework For Making Decisions.

The feeling can be overwhelming. Sometimes we have so many options to choose from, whether it is in business or personal life, that we get exhausted and don’t know what to do and where to start. I just recently finished a job at a client’s and was deciding on what to do next. The opportunities were many, and I felt that it was incredibly challenging to say no to any of them, afraid of missing out on something. But I also knew that I did not have enough time available to do everything. Luckily I remembered the celery test.

Justus Fokker
5 min readFeb 25, 2016


The celery test is a simple way of helping you make the right decisions. Imagine you being at a dinner party, and someone says to you, “You know what you need in your business? Oreo cookies. If you’re not implementing Oreo cookies in your business, I’m telling you, you’re leaving money on the table.” Somebody else tells you: “Rice milk. In this economy? You have to be using rice milk.” Somebody else says to you: “M&Ms. We used M&Ms in our business, and we made millions! Facebook uses M&Ms. You’ve gotta do it.” Somebody else says to you, “Celery. It’s all about celery.”

So what do you do? Which one do you follow? Which item do you buy? It’s all perfectly good advice from perfectly good people with perfectly good evidence. Which products do you buy? So we go to the supermarket, and we buy them all. We buy celery and rice milk and Oreos and M&Ms. You may or may not get value out of all of these products; there’s no guarantee. You spend a lot of time at the supermarket, you spend a lot of money at the supermarket, and worse when you’re standing in line in the supermarket with all of your products in your arms. Your celery, your rice milk, your Oreos, your M&Ms. But nobody can see what you believe.

“You’re standing in line in the supermarket with all of your products in your arms. Your celery, your rice milk, your Oreos, your M&Ms. But nobody can see what you believe”

Because what you bought didn’t necessarily correspond to anything you believe. Nobody can see what you believe. So people will walk past you and ignore you. Imagine if you knew what your passion was. What your “Why” was. Imagine if your “Why” was evident. Imagine if your “Why” was always to be healthy and only do things that protect the integrity of your body. You will get all the same advice from all of the same smart people. The difference is, when you go to the supermarket, you’re only going to buy celery and rice milk. Those are the only two products that make sense.

You’re guaranteed to get value out of those products. You spend less money at the supermarket, so there’s an efficiency play. And when you’re standing in line at the supermarket holding your celery and holding your rice milk, everyone can see what you believe. That is authenticity. So somebody walking past can see, just by looking at your celery and your rice milk. They can look at you and say, “Hey, you’re healthy. You believe in being healthy? Me too!”

“Congratulations, you just attracted a client”

Congratulations, you just attracted a client. You just attracted a referral, an employee, an article, a blog, buzz. Somebody says, “Hey, can you give some advice to me?” You just created that sense of cause in somebody else, simply because you said and did the things you believe. Here’s the best part: as soon as I you learned about the “Why” “to be healthy”, before I even said we’re going to buy celery and rice milk only, every single person reading this knew we were only going to buy celery and rice milk before I said it. That’s called scale.

The more you talk about why you do what you do, those who work with you, those who work for you, those who work around you all know what you need and what the right decisions are. Not because they’re trusting your gut, and not because you laid out some set of criteria. It’s because they know why you do what you do, and some decisions are just obvious. They either make sense, or they don’t. And that’s the power of “Why”. It is scalable and makes decision making easy.

“My “Why” is that I want to see great ideas grow”

My “Why” is that I want to see great ideas grow. But most of the time, it is not the idea itself, but the execution thereof that decides whether it will become a success or not. Therefore I use my experience at setting up and coaching dozens of startups to make ideas succeed. I help with lean startup, growth hacking, data-driven marketing, and product development. And where necessary, I can give access to a vast network of digital experts — all to increase growth by making sure that the execution is optimal and data-driven. So when looking for a new job or client, all I have to do is decide whether they pass the celery test.

So if you have a great idea or product, want to make it grow and feel like you can pass the celery test, reach out to me, and we will make it work! And if you know what your celery test is, please let me know since I am very curious how others are using this method.

Many thanks to ✎ Andrew Warner and Simon Sinek for the great interview on Mixergy, which was the source of this article. The interview can be watched here:




Justus Fokker

Product owner, product manager, product fanatic. Start with the big ideas, follow with the details.