Last night, I graduated from ICE’s Culinary Management program. All I can say is that I have never experienced a sharper—or more humbling—learning curve in seven months.
When thinking about how to illustrate this for you, I keep coming back to an assignment from our first week in the program: the “color speech.” The assignment is exactly what it sounds like: give a speech about your favorite color. Sounds pretty simple, right? Think again. For starters, most of us hadn’t contemplated what our favorite color was since we were about eight. Moreover, we were asked to make this speech interesting and relevant to a group of eighteen strangers—a daunting task.
Now, I wish I could tell you we all nailed the speech, but that’s just not the reality. We tanked, hard. Sweaty-palmed, voices quivering, we all got up there and tried to justify why we loved blue, felt strongly about purple or were enchanted by red. It went the opposite of smoothly. Our instructor, Steve and our guest instructor, Andy, gave us feedback on our delivery: “Own your space. Don’t ask us, tell us.” By the time we had all given our speeches, we felt exhausted, humbled and totally unsure of ourselves.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what a speech about color has to do with restaurant management and entrepreneurship. The answer is simple: failure. Like most things worth doing, there is an inherent risk involved in starting your own business, pursuing a fulfilling career and leading a meaningful life. I would even go so far as to say that failure is not merely a possible risk, but a requirement for success. The color assignment was designed to give us a taste of failure. It was designed to test our perseverance, our resolve and our ability to embrace failure as an opportunity for growth.
Grow we did. In our final week of class, each of us presented our final business plans to a room packed with people, three of whom were high-profile investors. The difference between my stage presence for the color speech and in my final presentation could not have been more pronounced. I witnessed the same transformation in my classmates: dressed like polished professionals, delivering incredible business plans with confidence, poise and courage. This wasn’t just a stroke of luck; the seven months that passed between those two speeches rigorously prepared us for this moment. In short, we were primed to succeed.
Looking forward, I have little doubt that my classmates will accomplish great things in the culinary world. I also know that each and every one of us will fail again, hard. But these past seven months have taught us how to seize the opportunity therein. It’s what you do when you fail that dictates the ultimate outcome. After our time at ICE, my classmates and I are ready to accept that challenge.
Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Management program.