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The Caterer

Blowing your own trumpet

28 December 2012
Blowing your own trumpet

There is a fine line between demonstrating enthusiasm for the work you do and boasting about it. In today's highly competitive market we are all expected to present a positive picture of the businesses we manage - but must avoid any hint of arrogance if we wish to be liked, too.

Very few individuals have the charisma of Muhammad Ali, who could get away with saying "I'm the greatest", or the reputation of James Bond for whom the song Nobody Does It Better was composed. For most of us, it's enough to be able to claim a percentage increase in productivity or profits, perhaps garnished with an award or two along the way.

Without realising it at the time, I've been making an unconscious study of the art of boasting ever since signing up to LinkedIn, the social network for people who don't do social networks. It's fascinating to see how everyone (including me) tries to smuggle whopping great boasts into a dry record of their career highlights. Looking at all the achievements of my own circle of business acquaintances it's tempting to wonder how the world survived for so long without us.

There are times, however, when you must blow your own trumpet. At a recent gathering of the members of Pride of Britain I was yet again charged with the task of reporting on our progress, carefully omitting to mention minor failures, whilst elaborating freely on our (many) triumphs. At a dinner party this would be seen as an unbearable display of boasting, but at a business meeting with one's most important stakeholders, nothing less will do.

This brings me to an issue of profound importance for our industry and its future. If you divide those working in hospitality into two groups, those who broadcast their achievements and those don't, the former would be stuffed with the marketing, managerial and culinary, while the latter would largely comprise housekeeping and front of house talent. This is not a criticism; it's a statement of fact.

Furthermore, waiting is often seen here in the UK as a job for a young person, whereas in many parts of Europe it is a job for life, and the more mature exponents of the profession are revered because of their skill and experience. Their best customers actually do the boasting for them.

In Caterer and Hotelkeeper's list of the top 100 players in hospitality, no place was found for Fred Sirieix despite his high profile as a restaurant manager, including appearances on TV, and his power to inspire.

Fred is also the man behind National Waiters Day on 23 June 2013, so let's get everyone talking about the people who are usually far too polite to talk about themselves and support #NationalWaitersDay.

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