Chimney Cartel Teach, Create, and Have Fun Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:49:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 176331961 Marketing Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:45:03 +0000 Marketing is one of the most fun things you can do in business. Besides cooking, this is where you get to be the most creative. Marketing has seen many forms over the years from magazine ads to television commercials. Driving down the highway and you still see businesses investing in billboards which at one time, were all the rage. Then there’s the kid on the street corner twirling a sign drawing your attention then pointing the way to the phone store or pizza shop. No idea is ever immediately marked off the list of things to try when it comes to marketing a product.
Back in the day the encyclopedias were sold door to door because someone at some point thought this was a great way to market a product. If you’ve ever watched The Founder then you will get the idea of marketing. This is a movie about how Ray Kroc got McDonalds and the marketing strategies he had used over the years. As a kid I had a job at a local pizzeria and my job was to hand out fliers. We walked through the neighborhood placing them on screen doors then off to the local shopping center to secure them under the windshield wipers of cars. Marketing has seen many shapes and sizes, but it was always trying to be creative.
Word of Mouth
I was always told the best form of marketing is word of mouth and even in today’s technological age, this holds true. We see the advertisements on television and read them in the magazines while we wait for an oil change, but neither is as effective as someone telling you about a place. Every advertisement is trying to speak to you about the goodness of this or that product so you will get it the next time you get on Amazon or head to the mall. However, if you’re like me, unless it is really creative, you turn the page, channel surf, or fast forward to get past it.
Now switch gears to the new restaurant you recently tried. Most of us try it because someone whom we trust told us about it and when we were in the mood to try a new place, then off we went. This happened to me a while back when my daughter was telling me about a great little bistro looking place which served brunch style food all day. We finally went and the food was so good, I was compelled to speak with the manager/owner about how great this place was from the décor all the way to the food. Even today, word of mouth gets it done for marketing.
Social Media
This is still so new for us all. The old guard who still out there designing magazine adds, sometimes balk at this new form of advertisement, but it’s getting to the point now they can’t ignore it. If you are in business these days, the new generation of consumers will check social media when looking up a business. If you do not have a Facebook or an Instagram, then you can write off getting their patronage, because this is their first stop. This is how they look at you with their hand-held computer we call a phone. They look here to see if your business or product looks appealing, what other say about it and if it just catches their eye. I have to admit this isn’t just an attribute of the younger generation, I often turn to social to find what I want to know about a business.
Top social media apps you need is Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. If your business is also business to business, then you also need a Linked-In (which I recommend you have regardless). Your everyday consumer may not look at Linked-In but they will look at the others. They will research your social footprint to find out how relevant you are in today’s digital age. Instagram is where you can place some awesome photos of your food while Facebook allows you to have direct communication with their customers if they choose. TikTok is just a whole different kind of 15 to 60 second videos which have the reputation of being fun dance and music videos. However, the “How To’s” instructional videos are quickly moving into the most popular category.
How many reading this remembers the “Mean” Joe Green Coke commercial where a kid offers him a drink and the massive football player repays the gesture with his Steelers jersey. Coke sales skyrocketed during this time because Mean Joe, as a Super Bowl champ, had great influence on the consumers. To be balanced in this article the same could be said when the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, promoted Pepsi. Once again sales rose for this company because Michael drank it, we wanted to drink it. The term for them back in those days were “spokespeople.” We didn’t have the word “influencer” for this yet but we sure do so now and it isn’t reserved for the celebrities.
The goal of every business is to get their products into the hands of the everyday person. For instance, charcoal companies aren’t staying in business just to supply some pro cooks but they will supply them because the everyday cook, the backyarder, will look to these cooks as influencers. Companies today hire these type people because they are well known in their niche or have a considerable amount of social media following. When this happens those many backyard cooks use what they use so they can cook like them.
Marketing today has changed the way it looks but the core of it is still the same.

Coming to Work Looking for A Better Way Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:44:16 +0000 Back in the day many a corporation had what was call the “Suggestion Box.” Perhaps your company or business still has one. These may have gone out of style. Today there is the “open door policy.” This is where you should be able to walk right into the boss or supervisor’s office and offer your suggestions to make the workplace better. Many businesses who had these boxes would offer cash bonus if your suggestion helped productivity and in essence, save the company money. One company I know of would send someone and their family on a weekend get-away. WOW! What a way to motivate your people to come to work looking for a better way.
Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, discusses business after business who was on top of the economic world (A&P Grocery for instance). But because they started to slowly settle for “good enough” they started to decline to the point of becoming a part of history. Since his book was written, we have seen business after business downsize or close altogether. Examples of this would be SeaWorld, Sears, and Toys R Us. Each of these companies slowly decided to stop seeking greatness and settle for status quo. Three areas where every business needs to focus are: Legacy, Team, and Customers,
Recently I was discussing how Sears & Roebuck was the place to get anything you would ever need. There is a house in St. Augustine, FL that was purchased from their catalog. Yes, a whole house! Many of you reading this remember the old catalogs and the day it was announced they would no longer be using them. This was during the beginnings of the internet and for some reason Sears wasn’t able to capitalize on what they had already been doing for decades, order by mail.
This is a part of their legacy and with a focus on who they are, they would not be closing stores. What is the legacy of your restaurant? Family run? One of a kind? Unique menu? Then you need to capitalize on this legacy. People love a great story, and this could help drive loyalty of both your team and guests.
Study after study reveals money isn’t the top motivating factor. There is a quote going around business circles which reads something to the effect, “People do not quit jobs, they quit managers.” Now, there are times when the job just isn’t a great fit but by and large, it’s the boss which frustrates employees. Most of your team wants to be heard when they have a concern. They want to be appreciated when they do a great job. Some aren’t even looking to be promoted, just feel like they are part of the team. Their contributions to the success of the company is welcomed. When you come to work, look for a better way to make your team feel included.
I have gone to many a restaurant with good food but great customer service. I have also ceased going to a place with great food because the service was poor. I wasn’t appreciated as a paying customer. I felt it was an inconvenience to the server, manager etc. for being there. Your guests, as I call the customer, are just that, your guest. Of all the places they have had to choose, they chose yours to dine or shop in. When I was a trainer in the corporate world, I was constantly reminding those whom I was training, without the customer we would not have a job. Business owners should walk into their places of business as if they were the customer. Shop, walk the aisles, order food and even pay just like the customer. Undercover Boss television show was great at bringing this to light. Keep coming into work looking for a better way to improve the guest experience.
With these three little and simple things in mind, you can make huge leaps in improving your business. I encourage you and your team to always Come into Work Looking for a Better Way.


The New Year Will Bring Us Something Brand New Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:43:20 +0000 The New Year Will Bring Us Something Brand New
This time last year we were waiting with great expectations for the new year. 2020 was going to bring to us a clean slate in life, goals, business and dreams. If you were anything like me, then 2020 was going to be your year. Also, if you’re like me, you say this every new year. With great anticipation I walked into 2020. One of the reasons I looked forward to the new year was in 2019 my whole department was let go, so after 16 years I was without a job. But never fear, I was finally able to do what I have wanted to do, and now I get to do it full-time. So, 2020 was going to be my year. When you sang My Auld Lang Syne at midnight, what were you anticipating for the new year known as 2020?
March of 2020 changed everything. Every goal. Every dream. Everything. Restaurants were not only shutdown but the whole industry rocked to the point there has been a special fund set up by Guy Fieri to help them. Entertainment was shut down. No movies were being made, but why should there be? There were no theaters open in which to show them. People out of work, the government sending us money to ease the pain just a wee bit and here we sit on furlough waiting for 2021.
However, once again, I will say I’m looking forward to a brand-new year. With it will bring a new slate. When the ball drops in New York (and around the world), we all feel as if there is a re-do, a brand-new lease on life. Our dreams are shiny once again and not battered by the challenges of life. Walking into January 1st, it’s like a breath of fresh air, among the cheese dip and bowl games on TV. Tomorrow will be 2020’s last day and then 2021 brings us something brand new.
Brand New Opportunities
Every year while watching the Rose Bowl Parade, I look over what will come in the new year such as, vacations, BBQ contests, business opportunities, etc. I look at each of these as opportunities for various reasons. Opportunities to get away for some relaxation with the family. Do not dismiss this as an opportunity to grow closer to the one you love and enjoy spending time with. Also, I’ve made business connections while on holiday, so there are opportunities around us if we are looking.
Watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was stuck on an equation, then remembered Einstein did some of his greatest discoveries while working a regular 9 to 5 job (of course I researched this and it is true by the way). I am not saying you need to go get a job other than the one you have and love. But I am saying, some of our greatest opportunities come when we are doing something else. It frees up or relaxes our mind, clears out the clutter and then we can see what lies ahead. The key is always be on the look out for brand new opportunities in what it is you do, the business of BBQ.
With great anticipation, I look forward to 2021 bring a heap of brand-new opportunities.
New Challenges
Everyone says, “I love a good challenge” but the events of 2020 really put this to the test. Marketing took on a new look. Many businesses redefined how they did their business. This was very evident with restaurants who never did curbside or drive-up service. Meeting payroll with half capacity became one of the biggest challenges but was met head on with creativity and a renewed vigor in many places. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is a phrase we have heard all our lives. When Thomas Edison got tired of lighting a lamp by which to read, along came a lightbulb. When Henry Ford was tired of the expense of a horse and carriage, along came the “Quadricycle,” the first automobile he ever designed or drove. But have you ever realized how this phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies to your business?
This was made clear this past year and we all realize every new year brings its own set of challenges. What 2020 has taught us, is regardless of the challenges we face, we can meet them head on and overcome. This isn’t to say there will be smooth sailing with rainbows and cotton candy. Challenges just do not work this way. They stretch us, tire us, and in many cases give us cause to doubt. However, when we press on, these challenges reveal to us strength and creativity we didn’t realize we possessed.
As 2021 knocks on the door of time, I look forward to what these brand-new challenges bring.
New Adventures
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great adventure movie. Many archeologists had to get the word out that what he did, was not archeology. This didn’t stop high school students from looking into this as a career. The adventure of it all drew them to this and some stayed as they realized there was adventure, of sorts, in discovering ancient civilizations. We all love a great adventure, whether hiking the Appalachian Trail or just going to the market in the Bahamas. This new year will bring many adventures to you both personally and in business.
For most people, adventures carry with them positive experiences. Although the positivity may only be seen with hindsight. Adventure brings with it experiences we will tell our grandkids about, learn new things or techniques we can use on the grill. Adventure can be anywhere or anything we make it our to be. Culinary adventures, traveling adventures, binge watching television shows adventures. Taking a trip to the same place can carry with it an adventure full of memoires and knowledge. We just need to learn to look at our experiences as great adventures from which to grow.
With eagerness, I will put on my best leather jacket and Indiana Jones hat, to face this brand-new adventure we will call 2021.
Happy New Year Everyone.

Burn The Ships Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:41:35 +0000 The year was 1519 when an order was given which undoubtedly made the men question the sanity of the commander giving it but looking at the bigger picture, it makes total sense. Hernan Cortes, from Spain came to the New World on a mission. You would think being the Governor of Cuba would be enough but for the explorer it wasn’t. So, in 1519 he, along with about 600 sailors set sail for a new land, a new adventure. This is when Cortes landed on the beaches of Veracruz to begin his conquest of Mexico. It’s then he gave his men the order to “Burn the Ships!” What did this mean to them? More importantly, what does this mean for us? To get our lessons from this snippet of history lets look at the whole story.
He Worked toward Accomplishing His Vision
As Cortes sat in his Lay-Z-Boy in Spain his vision began to take form. Perhaps even earlier but let’s just start here. It wasn’t enough for him to dream of far away lands, of conquest or of being remembered in history but he pursued this vision, he set off to work toward this goal. He learned to sail a ship, put in the work to rise in the ranks until finally he was a commander, then off he went. First to Cuba but then to Mexico, conquering the Aztecs and living out his days as their leader.
What does this mean to you as a pitmaster? Well, I guess all of this depends on your vision. Do you want to overtake Myron as the winningest man in BBQ or just be the best in your state? Do you want to be a World Champion steak cook? Perhaps its just to own your own business revolving around the world of outdoor cooking. Whatever your vision, recognize it will take time and effort. Cortes didn’t just wake up one morning and become a household name among the conqueror community. Neither should you expect this in your BBQ journey.
Perhaps you need to take some business classes so you can understand what it takes to run one. Eric Hodson, of Boars Night Out Championship BBQ Team, once said, “Every time he cooks at home, he is practicing for a competition.” This paid off for him in 2017 when he became the SCA World Champion. Look at Chris Lilly who has spent years working at Big Bob Gibson’s which has led to FIVE Memphis in May World Championships. The point is your vision can be accomplished with the effort and time you’re willing to put into it.
He Refused to Go Backward
When Cortes landed in Mexico then gave the order to burn the ships, can you imagine what was going through the minds of his crew? “Are you sure about this?” “Has he lost his Mind?” “How will we go back?” These must’ve been some of the questions they had? But he had them burned anyway. But Why? He wasn’t more sure of anything in his life and hadn’t lost his mind, he was thinking very clearly with an objective in mind. Was he afraid? Possibly, but this fear was not enough to stop him once his mind was made up. On top of this, he had no intentions of going back. He was all in when it came to what he wanted.
I’ve been asked if I’ve lost my mind when I decided to make the BBQ life my life. How can you make a living cooking outside? Do you make any money writing? Traveling as a speaker is fun, but you’ll never get rich. You need the security of a regular job. Have you heard something like this from your family, friends and almost complete strangers? Have there been moments when you were fearful of what the future held when you decided to open the store? One of the differences between those who succeed and those who do not is fear. Those who succeed recognize the fear of the unknown and what could happen, yet they press on. Those who do not succeed recognize the fear and naysayers, yet it paralyzes them to keep to the status quo.
When Cortes ordered the burning of the ships, he gave himself no option to go backwards. This spoke volumes to those around him and it still speaks to us in 2020. He remembered the lessons and experiences he had gained from the past, which gave him the knowledge he would need to press forward. There is nothing wrong with looking back but you must remove all options of going back if you plan to succeed. Cortes did this by burning the ships what must you burn to move forward in your BBQ life? Your daytime job? Perhaps your 401k? He knew the cost of going forward and was willing to pay it.
He Accepted the Challenge of Moving Forward
To conquer a new land isn’t without a bunch of challenges. Where will they live? How would they eat? What will it take to overtake these people known as Aztecs? You know there were a thousand other challenges, yet he was willing to face them all and even those which were unexpected. This was the message he sent when he resolved to burn the ships. No turning back, only moving forward regardless of the challenges. As history shows us, he not only accepted the challenges but hit them head on and overcame them.
When there is a resolve to accept those challenges, which lie ahead then you will not be deterred even by those questioning you. Some of those most likely came from his own men questioning his ability, placing doubt about his certainty to accomplish goal much like those facing you. But like him, you must resolve to face those challenges no matter how uphill it may seem.
But how do you overcome these challenges? This question gets asked all the time and the answer is…I don’t know. Every challenge is different and the only constant in overcoming them is your resolve, your determination, your gumption, your…whatever you want to call it, you must have it to succeed. When you do you’ll move forward, conquering great lands and the burning of ships will turn out to be a small price that was paid.
Whatever your vision is in your BBQ Journey, in order to accomplish it you must do more than light some charcoal, you must Burn the Ships.

Best Laid Plans Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:40:29 +0000 We’ve all heard the phrase, “The best laid plans of mice and men” and have most likely said it. The origin, by the way, comes from a poem titled, To A Mouse by Robert Burns. Even out of the context of the poem, the way we use it is exactly how it was meant. We can plan and plan and plan again, but in the end, something can turn those plans on their ear and cause a major (or minor) change in your intentions. Another phrase we all have heard is from an old Yiddish proverb, “Man makes plans and God laughs.” Again, when plans are made, they can change on a dime.
However, it doesn’t stop us from planning. In fact, I bet most of you reading this have plans for the rest of your day, perhaps even have every day lined up with plans. But they can change. For instance, Mondays I do certain things which set up the rest of my week. This past Monday was a threat of rain in the evening, so I had to change my entire schedule which has, in a way, put me a bit behind in all I need to get accomplished. Below are four tips to help you with these plans, even when they get upheaved.
Make “To Do” Lists
To do lists are a must. Perhaps you remember, as I do, when there was, in my estimation, an overemphasis on To Do Lists. Begin your day by making your list of what need accomplished down to the most minute. Then look back over that list and begin to prioritize as to importance. No, wait. Prioritize based on time needed for each task. No, wait. I think you are getting the picture. By the time you did all of this, most of your morning was spent planning out what you were going to do, and nothing was being accomplished. The problem set in when there was a change to the list. Either a task was more important than you ranked it, a project took longer than you had planned for, or someone added to your list and made it the priority. This can be seen, often when we are cooking and have our schedule set of what needs done and when.
Having said the above, I’m a huge proponent of lists. Time lists so I know when I have turn-ins at a competition or just the event schedule, so I don’t miss anything. However, weekly I make a huge “To Do” list of every major task that needs accomplished. For instance, this article, is on there and will be scratched off once completed. Although there are deadlines or certain time when items need to be completed, there is built into the list freedom of flexibility.
Be Flexible
One of the most frustrating concepts of the lists in those self-help books were their lack of freedom to be flexible. If something pooped up unexpectedly, the authors would lament and tell you to evaluate its importance in relation to the other items to be accomplished. Although, there is some merit to this, it’s called “chasing the squirrel.” Like a dog outside doing what dogs do, then next thing you know they’re off chasing a squirrel then a lizard (in Florida) then something else. If you’re not careful then you can become distracted and then your whole plan is thrown off.
When you are flexible, to a degree, then your plan just may be delayed or this new event that has popped up will enhance your plan in a greater way. My mind keeps going back to cooking in a contest when, on a cold morning, your cooker isn’t getting to the temperature you need, but because of your flexibility you are able to adjust. This freedom of flexibility is a permission you must give yourself when things arise, because they always do.
Stay Open to Better
“Change is the only constant in life” is a phrase we all have heard, said and lived. It’s inevitable to have change, to have plans disrupted, to have “to do” lists added to unexpectedly. How we react to these can make all the difference. Before I delve into this, let me assure you, these changes aren’t always a bed of roses, sometimes, they do in fact frustrate, but in a bigger picture, they open your eyes to something better.
I’m sure you’re a lot like me when you have tasks which need accomplished. You are so laser focused any change can throw you off track. However, on some of those occasions when this has happened to me, it made everything better. When you’re open to change being better, then when it happens, you are more willing to embrace it. It could be as simple as giving you a sense of accomplishment, to filling in a missing piece to a project, to a brand-new recipe you stumble across. So, set your plans, but stay open to those plans changing to reveal something better.
Re-group and Re-try
Covid-19 has almost made us experts on this. From events canceling, to weddings being postponed and more. I have had two contests I’ve planned postpone because of this and I’ve canceled more plane tickets than I have ever canceled in my life. Major BBQ contests have canceled for this year only with the promise of bigger and better in 2021. One of my favorite events of the year, the NBBQA National Conference, even had to cancel. But hopefully we’ll see something better, bigger and more fun next year.
When your plans change, when your day is turned on its ear, take a step back to re-group. In reality, it’s all you can do, unless you just give up and no one wants that. When you face a change of plans don’t get all mopey and give up. Instead, step back grab a coffee, go for a walk, mow the lawn, etc. and spend that time re-grouping, collecting your thoughts then get back at it. This is so evident when you’re at a cooking competition and when the results are delivered, you find out they aren’t exactly what you wanted. Do you sell your cookers and quit? No, you go home and examine your cook then you get ready for the next one.
Our best laid plans may change from time to time, but how we deal with them will make all the difference.

Lessons from Vegetable Soup Sat, 01 Aug 2020 00:54:23 +0000 Lessons from Vegetable Soup
It’s that time of year and no I am not referring to the holidays. It’s soup and chili time of the year. As temperatures begin to drop our craving for a bowl of warm soup (and hot chocolate) goes up. There is nothing like curling up on the couch wrapped up in a blanket sipping a bowl of vegetable soup while the cold envelopes the outside. There is something comforting about this and for many, it just takes you back home to a time once forgotten, until this time of year. Perhaps you are using your mother’s or grandmother’s recipe, thinking of a time you made it with her and smile. Perhaps you are teaching your son or daughter how to make this comfort food from scratch so they will connect with their past while growing the future. Whatever the reason, a great bowl of vegetable soup always seems to hit the spot this time of year.
While preparing to make some for my family, I began to think about all it takes to put it together. The more I thought about it, the more lessons for business and life I began to see. I was reminded of some of my favorite authors and teachers who looked at the simplest of items to teach the most profound of lessons. We’ve all heard the lightbulb analogy from Thomas Edison (when ask about his failures, he simply said, those aren’t failures, just 2000 ways it didn’t work. “All I need is one way”). So here are a few lessons from the everyday, vegetable soup.
Variety of Ingredients
A great vegetable soup is going to have a variety of ingredients. Perhaps, back in the day, this was just a hearty way to use what was harvested from the garden. Something different than the normal use of vegetables and yet, something amazing. I love thinking about the origins of food and why people did what they’ve done with what they had. Many of our great recipes were simply born out of what was in the cupboard, the field or simply because it was all they had. Regardless, vegetable soup is one of those dishes made with a variety of ingredients. Each vegetable and seasoning bringing to the bowl its own uniqueness. You choose each for what it has to offer the overall dish.
The individuals we hire are much like this. Each come to the office, different than the others, yet they bring a set of skills, personality and ideas to make it a better place. In many cases, a company will hire someone to fill a gap, never really investing in the person to see if it is a right fit for both parties. They need a warm body, and this is as far as it goes. If the person leaves, then they will be replaced with another. I read a line which has stuck with me through the years but cannot remember the author. It simply read, “Companies made a mistake when they changed from ‘The Personnel Department’ to ‘Human Resources.’ They went from looking at the person to looking at people as just another resource.” Like ingredients in a vegetable soup, people bring their own uniqueness to the business.
Blending of Flavors
Corn, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and much more go into a great bowl of vegetable soup. Then you must add your stock after you’ve chosen which one to use. Let’s put in some water, then some spices and seasonings just to take it to another level. As we mentioned above, each ingredient is unique, but when they come together, they begin to marinade. The flavors from each of ingredients start to blend together, creating a delicious new flavor. Although you can still pick out each individual vegetable, when scooped up in a spoon, they collectively bring something new to the pot of soup. Combined together, when it is the right set of ingredients, your meal is better than if you ate each on its own.
When running a business, the same is true when the right team is assembled. Each person brings with them their own set of skills and personality which, in theory, complement the rest of the team, keeping it all running smooth. When the right team is in place, everyone knows their roles, and in many cases, knows the roles of the others, enabling them to fill in if needed. Have you ever taken a bite of a vegetable soup and there is just something off-putting about it? There is that one ingredient which just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the dish. This is why when making vegetable soup or choosing employees, it is so important to choose the right ones. So, they will blend in together, creating something special.
Takes Time to Cook
One mistake many novice vegetable soup makers encounter, is they want to rush it. I am in the mood for some vegetable soup and I am in the mood for it now. Although you can make a decent soup in a short period of time, the experienced cook knows it is better to take your time. Once you have combined the ingredients, let it sit to marinade, blending the flavors. Then you place it on the stove, not on a high heat but a low heat, so it cooks slowly, further infusing all the flavors. Once it is cooked, you serve a bowl of this deliciousness. However, don’t eat it all the first day, save some for tomorrow. It only gets better with time.
The same is true with putting together a great team for your business. For the sports fans out there, how many times have you tried to justify your team’s losing streak as a ‘rebuilding year?’ Having a great team is like having a great business or even a great bowl of vegetable soup, it takes time. Time to search out just the right fit. Time to allow the individuals to grow as an individual as well as a team. Patience to wait, knowing the end result will be beyond what you’ve hoped. To say it isn’t tough to wait would just not be the full picture. But, when you take the time to develop the flavors, you’ll have the absolute best team working for the success of everyone.
As we approach a brand new year full of uncertainties, one thing is for sure, a great bowl of vegetable soup will make it all a bit better.