7 Entrepreneurial Lessons From Jiro, The Sushi Master
The documentary of a Tokyo-based sushi chef has been the surprise movie rental hit of the summer among the entrepreneurial crowd. Why it has become so popular is not all that surprising. In many ways, Jiro is comparable to Steve Jobs. He’s obsessive, focused, determined, and more. For any active entrepreneur, Jiro serves as a great reference point. While there have been plenty of critiques of Jiro’s lifestyle, there are still plenty of things to be learned. While I could extract numerous lessons, here are seven that I found to be particularly important.
Every entrepreneur has to make sacrifices in order to succeed. Whether it’s relationships, health (hopefully not), socializing, or other areas of your life, it’s practically impossible to have balance. Jiro embraced this aspect of entrepreneurship and focused relentlessly on his sushi business. At times in the movie, Jiro’s children discuss how he was rarely at home. It was because he was busy working in the restaurant.
Only work with the best
Jiro emphasized that he is no expert in rice or even fish for that matter. He partners with those individuals who are exceptional at what they do. Practically any story you read of great entrepreneurs involves stories about how they seek out the best suppliers. These partnerships are a major source of pride for Jiro. Without them, Sukiyabashi Jiro (Jiro’s restaurant), would not be possible.
Perfection & Repetition
The perfection expected of Jiro’s partners is something that he holds himself to. By doing the same thing day in and day out, Jiro is able to become a master of sushi. As the movie states, Jiro literally dreams of sushi. New recipes, new ways of improving his existing recipes and more. You would imagine that nearly 80 years of cooking would be enough to reach perfection, however he believes that he’ll never reach it.
Don’t complain about work
This is one topic that was controversial primarily because we all know people who complain about their work, including entrepreneurs. However if you are an entrepreneur he’s probably right. You are running a business because you love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, you shouldn’t be doing it. There are always problems, but when you are doing something most people aspire to, it’s tasteless to complain.
Sweat the details
Attention to details is what makes the experience possible. At Sukiyabashi Jiro, sushi is delivered differently based on the hand the person eats it with. For women, Jiro provides smaller portions because they eat slower. Jiro wants everybody to finish at the same time. Sweating the details is something that Steve Jobs also had many stories of. It included painting the front and back of picket fences, something Jobs adopted from his father (who painted the backs of kitchen cabinets despite nobody noticing). Jiro is similar in this way. Every detail matters.
Probably the most important attribute of a successful entrepreneur is discipline, and Jiro was a brilliant demonstration of this. Every single day Jiro woke up extremely early and went to the fish market. He’d then head to the restaurant to prepare for the meals. While the fish market job was eventually delegated to his son, he continued the same routine for decades. Day in and day out. Repetition. It’s the key to any form of excellence and it’s a a skill that Jiro exemplifies.
I mentioned it early in the post, Jiro literally dreams of sushi. Any entrepreneur who has been pouring their heart into a new venture knows what it’s like to have dreams about their business. Napoleon Hill discusses how those with riches are able to work themselves into a “white heat of desire”. For entrepreneurs that desire is to build a thriving business. The output of desire is obsession and Jiro obsessed over absolutely everything pertaining to sushi. If you are not obsessed with what you are building, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.