Chefs and event organizers



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The Greek restaurant chef

One of the Greek expat stand-up comedians, who I discovered on the internet, is called Angelos Tsarouchas and in a short piece of one of his shows tells the story of finding a Greek restaurant somewhere in Manchester. He saw the name… It sounded Greek and then after seeing all the different typical signs and behaviors he was convinced. The funny thing is the end line. When the waiter in the restaurant realizes he is Greek he tells him not to eat the crap they serve the foreigners but to get back in the kitchen and eat some real Greek food.

It could well be a real story… It definitely sounds like a real one for all of us who know these typical Greek behaviors. However, the argument about why the Greek chef won’t serve crap to other Greeks is kind of interesting. “Because we may end up knowing each other from somewhere”… and obviously fame, prestige, and image are important things in Greek communities. So if they don’t serve good food to fellow Greeks they risk losing something important in the end.

Greeks apart, however, think about it. If you were to go to a new restaurant with a cuisine that you never tried before. There is no prior evaluation on any app to check and you never tried Shushi before for example. How secure would you feel?… then how much more secure would it make you if you knew that the chef, the waiters, and the owners eat only from the food they cook? Certainly much more! If they trust their own food then why should you be afraid of it? The only thing to fear is that you won’t like it…but at least it won’t kill you… it will be at least a new and interesting experience!

Skin in the game

Just a few weeks ago I saw a video explaining the principle behind a mental model called skin in the game presented in a book by Nassim Taleb. The summary of it is that when you trust someone else to do a job for you then it is much better if this someone is also exposed to the risks of not doing the job properly. If the chef and cooks don’t cook well, they risk poisoning or not enjoying their meal themselves. If a banker has their money in their own bank they risk losing them if they take wrong decisions. If politicians are not affected by a decision they make they don’t care about causing damage to other people.

This is a mental model that could help us in general when we pick people to do some job for us. It would definitely improve so much our societies and I think a big problem currently in politics lies exactly in this principle and not being followed.

Picking events or… organizers?

In one of the recent events I attended the organizers, having selected a large number of helpers, managed to be present and dance in the marathon for quite a long period. I mean organizing and being responsible for such an event is quite stressful. I don’t know how they managed to spend time or how they could be so relaxed to enjoy dancing but they did it! The event was a great success. At least according to my criteria, it was what I would call a hot event.

In Tango, we pick people to do a job for us, when we pick an event. The organizers we pick are responsible for so many other things and among others selecting the participants. This is a hell of a difficult job and it is indeed quite possible to get things wrong. In a previous post, I analyzed how the analogy of “connector” and “cool kid” dancers can affect the end result and the atmosphere of an event. If the people selected are mostly cool kids then you end up with a cool atmosphere while on the other hand, you end up with a warm welcoming event.

So what did the organizers do correctly and manage to get such a result? They exposed themselves to the risk. They got their skin in the game. They created an event where if there wasn’t a good atmosphere they would not be enjoying it themselves in the first place. They wanted to organize an event where they could dance their asses off before anyone else… so they took the decisions with this mindset and picked people who are coming to events with the same mindset. I haven’t asked them explicitly, but I could see it in their behavior during the marathon. They were there behaving as guests themselves and enjoyed the event with all of us sharing their embraces, their smiles, their time, their discussions, and their Tandas.

So how can you pick the right event for you? Meet and observe the organizers in other events… in Milongas they organize… in other marathons they participate or DJ, etc. Are they there to show off their skills, simply to make money, or to connect through dance? And then ask yourself… what do YOU want to do when you join an event? Show off your skills or connect through dance? Then pick the events with organizers whose behavior matches your goals. You will certainly enjoy it.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango comes from Carlos DiSarli and doesn’t have any lyrics. Just a name. It took me some time to get what it actually means but I realized it once I learned it is a term coming from horse racing slung and means a favorite… in other words a safe bet. If picking your next event feels like betting… then looking at the organizers can definitely help you pick a safe bet!

So how about you? Do you believe that the ‘skin in the game’ concept can apply to tango organizers too? Have you been to tango events where the organizers actively participate in dancing? How did their involvement affect the overall tango experience? When choosing tango events to attend, do you consider the mindset and behavior of the organizers? How important is their alignment with your tango goals and preferences? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.


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