Chef or a Food Critic?

Posted by Trevor on 7 March 2013 | 3 Comments

If you want to learn to cook, go talk to a chef, not a food critic. That is advice I often give to budding entrepreneurs who have formed opinions of how to run an effective business based on a book they read. 90%, maybe even 99%, of how-to business books are written by academics and management consultants who have never gone through the experience of starting, building, and running their own company.  They are food critics. They know what good food should taste like, but they can barely make a piece of toast at home. How can an academic or management consultant possible understand the emotions, struggles, and thrills involved?

Add to that opinion the fact that 96% of all sole proprietorships in the US (which most academics and management consultants are) make lass than $50K a year in receipts (2009 census). That is an abysmal statistic, but this group of critics sell millions of business books a year, and innocent would-be entrepreneurs line up to buy them.

This brings me to something I said I wouldn’t do, and that is appeal to you via email and blog to try to get an authentic book, written from the chef’s perspective, a businessman who has actually been in the trenches dodging machine gun fire to succeed and then provide a map for everyone else back in the trenches. As of this writing Three Simple Steps, quite probably the most authentic self-help book ever written, has 140 votes on the Small Business Book Awards web site  It is just outside the top ten. In the top ten, every book is written by an academic or consultant who has never once built a small business. Am I the only one who gets the irony and wrongness of this?

The challenge is that some of those books have big publishing houses behind them. The rules say everyone can vote once a day for three weeks until March 26th. That means every employee in that publishing house is voting from their home computer every day. Where is the authenticity in that? It is a self-fulfilling scam.

Part of me says to ignore this. But another part of me feels for all those people who will part with their hard earned money when they see a title supported by the endorsement of being voted #1 business book. Relatively unknown authors with important messages and their boutique publishers are at a disadvantage. My publisher has a handful of employees only.

I think it high time for authenticity to wave its flag. If Three Simple Steps has helped you, I encourage you to vote every day on that link. It only takes two seconds of your time, but you will be making a statement for the chefs rising to challenge the army of food critics.

What is in it for me? Of course I get an ego boost. Who wouldn’t? All my profits, however, go to cancer R&D so it is also a good cause. Let’s make a stand and at least give those large self-serving authors a run for their money





  1. John Campbell says:

    Trevor – I am voting and pulling for you.

    As you say, if you want to learn to cook, clearly the chef is your guide. And whose cooking would you rather eat? To continue the metaphor, I’d eat in your restaurant any day.

    Perhaps you and Gordon Ramsay could work together. I am watching much less television now and even less after reading your book – my mentality just gets stronger and stronger. I really do like, and still watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares when I can. I love his passion in helping people become successful serving the public and themselves much better. I could definitely see you and Gordon working together on the show!


  2. Chris says:

    I just finished your book and thought it was fantastic. I voted for it and will vote daily for the next 3 weeks (signed up for the reminder.)

    PS I’m sure you know about this already, but here’s a 15 year old kid that developed a 3 cent test for cancer:

    “Jack is a fifteen year old freshman in high school. He developed a paper sensor that could detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer in five minutes for as little as 3 cents. He conducted his research at John Hopkins University. This research could change the face of cancer and promote early detection.”

  3. Chris says:

    I voted for Three Simple Steps yesterday and signed up for the email reminder to vote daily. I got the email reminder this morning, and I went to vote again.

    I scrolled down the list of nominees until I found Three Simple Steps and clicked on the link, but the button already said VOTED. I hope that means my vote for today was automatically logged.

    Otherwise, it’s a bug that’s not allowing a daily vote…

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