Anthony Bourdain is one of my heroes , not only did he battle alcohol and heroin abuse and still live to write and reflect on it in his memoirs,go on to be one of the forefront culinary minds as far as exposure to the world of not only cooking but eating.
Overall,the guy has style.
While reading his books Kitchen Confidential,Medium Raw I was asking myself , am i this type of craftsman, can i talk about not only being a part of a grater machine, (in my case a startup), but can I eloquently explain the frustrations, ups and downs,money issues,team issues,competition worries and victories that a small business has on a daily basis ?
This was a challenge , not only do we as the consuming media not hear very much from the majority of Developer as far as Process, Thinking, challenges to our mind and overall health, and other mild interests that soothe the coding mind.We do however often hear form people that are outside the code the Idea men (or women) as I call them.People that have never written a line of code.Regular everyday rubes that could not explain OOP to you
Now,let me put you snarling readers who are not coders at ease: There are many different roles that need to be played in a company, everyone cannot be a developer ( what do you think this is Given.To?), but Im talking about hearing the voices of people that have got their hands dirty, grew a beard, stayed up all night coding ,then went to sleep , woke up and somehow throughout sheer REM sleep cycles found the solution to the code that irked them the day before.
Craftsman are rare these days.
You might often spot them , you know the guy with the foot-growth beard standing next to the growler of craft beer that he brewed over the past few months, eager to share that first swig with any that inquire of its consistency.
I started to gather the lessons I learned from the books by Bourdain, and compiled a list of things that Developers, or anyone at a startup can use. I started by asking myself the following:
How can we make what we know easy to understand, palatable for the everyday working stiff to understand?
How can we introduce our craft to the next generation of developers?
Anthony Bourdain is known for saying that he is not the best chef out there. he believes in great cooking, with simple ingredients.
He was classically trained,and even through addiction and laziness he has still managed to work consistently (until No Reservations took off to the moon) in New York Saloons , and French Cuisine bistro's for many years.
1. Write about what you know
Bourdain tried his hand at writing a fictional crime novels (Bobby Gold)
It wasn't until he started to write about his experiences in the Kitchens going from a Summer job cooking in Province Town to Les Halles in New York, that people started to sit up and pay attention to what this guy was saying. It was the first expose style book that went behind the scenes.
For Startup folks pick your poison; Podcast,YouTube show,Blogging. We have more ways at our disposal to get the word out there about life at the starts we are working at.
2.Talk about experiences, not challenges so much
Bourdain never bogs down the reader with cooking issues, neither should you, with your bugs of the week. For an example of pacing, have a look at Scott Hanselman's HanselMinutes podcast.
Your audience wants to know where to start, and how you did what you did.
Letting them know that funding, exits, and strategy are important, but not day to day as you build your product or service, os where all of it begins is very important
3.Expose all your shortcomings
Anthony often relates stories from his training, mean head chefs,culinary dropouts,even addiction.
As a developer, having bugs in code is a sign of weakness, very few will talk about what they did to correct bugs in their own software , some Apps(very few) still output release notes from built scripts.
Have a bug? turn on your favorite screen capture software and record the whole process of correcting it, share on youtube. Voila!
4.Show which Knives you use
In Kitchen Confidential Bourdain talks all about cheap knives that he's used for years, and how the tool is nothing if you have no idea how to use it.
For developers I like sites like the setup because they expose some of the process, but not a lot of the thought behind how people work
We can take this further by incorporating video Links in Stack Overflow responses.Bam!
5. Talk about people who work next to you
As a Sous Chef, the stories about the people Bourdain worked with in kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw is what makes his whole experience come alive.
AisleBuyer.com used to have this feature on their website that interviewed every person on staff.The questions were not generic at all, they were very conversational, i remember one person said they get drunk on the weekends (lol)
When I spoke to Andrew Paradise for the first time I told him how much I enjoyed that part of their site.
Lesson : letting people know who is behind the scenes,making what you sell, adds clarity and humanity to your startups story.Use it wisely.
In closing just like to say:
Tools will come and go, startups will too, why not add some layers to the public Conscious to let people know you did more than just be here?