The Acquired Taste

I’m an acquired taste. Many people try me once and gag. Some come back again, give it another try and eventually, I become a habit. Huh? Mr. Cranky… acquired taste? WTF?

Let me explain.

The first time I tried uni (the Japanese name for sea urchin found in sushi), I thought it was rotten. It tasted so bad that I thought to myself…. this stuff must have gone bad. Nobody would eat something that tastes like this on purpose. So a few weeks later, in a different sushi bar… I tried it again and found out it tasted the same. After that, a friend and I would go out for sushi and it became a ritual… a bet… a proof of our manhood. We’d both finish the meal with a piece of uni sushi. And then, something happened. We both began to enjoy uni. We acquired a taste for the gooey, slimy stuff.

I did the same thing with scotch. I thought that real men didn’t drink, foo-foo drinks with umbrellas. So I started to drink scotch… neat… meaning without ice… but you knew that and boom, all of a sudden I enjoyed scotch.

Like me, Scotch and Uni are acquired tastes. Now the sad part of that story is that my life would be no worse off if I never acquired a taste for uni. It would most definitely be much better off if I hadn’t acquired a taste for Scotch.

Especially when you consider the night I alledgely spent in a bar in Seoul, South Korea and woke up the next morning in my hotel, 10 miles away, on the other side of the river, face down, on top of still made hotel bed (as in I did not get under the covers or unamke the bed), naked, awakened only because the maid was knocking on the door, no idea how I got there, no idea where my wallet was, no idea where my pants were for that matter. My wallet was found in the back pocket of my pants. My pants crumpled up on a chair. My cash and credit cards all intact, including a $240 bar bill which indicated I had only bought two non-Macallan Scotch fruity drinks… drinks presumably for the lady sitting next to me on the bar pictured below. 2 1/2 hours before my flight home while I’m an hour away from Incheon Airport (Full disclosure, I was recently divorced. Had not yet met my now, lovely perfect wife who is never to be called Mrs. Cranky and this has never happened to me since. Once was more than enough).

How old are these pictures? Taken on Palm Mobile Phone

Okay, so there must be a point here somewhere and I’m going to try and get to it. Lately, I’ve been asked to join a few groups. A great group of people who hunt together for leads. Another group of people that meet together to improve each other’s lives. And I realized something… I’m not only an acquired taste… I have discriminating tastes and because of that, I’m not a joiner. Not unless the group is small, the culture is clearly defined and aligned with my principals…. yes, I do have principals. And only if I have a say in who is in or out of the group.

Now the groups that got me thinking about this, they had a wide distribution of people… a spectrum … many I admire, respect and genuinely enjoy. Yet when a group gets too big… the 80/20 rule takes over.

For instance, there was a guy in one of the groups that had crossed moral lines with me if not ethical in the past. He had a bad reputation with some of the people in the group even and I didn’t want his smell to permeate my clothing. You know, like the cigar smell that ruins your clothes after a night in a cigar bar in South Korea.

There was a woman in the other group who portrays herself as a business coach. She is an author of inane books. She’s vacuous, lacks self-awareness and to make sure others know she’s a lightweight, she always has something to say and no reason to say it. Now I wasn’t going to have my name associated with the taint of the 20 percent. I also don’t want to have to mute my own personality in order to shield others in the group from being tainted by me. I’m not going to conduct myself contrary to my principals and beliefs in order to protect the reputation of others. In other words, I didn’t want to join a club that would have me.

Looking back on my life, I was never a joiner… not without control. I ran track in high school and part of college because it was an individual sport. I didn’t want to join a fraternity full of people I didn’t want to be associated so I started one. I was a founding member of a chapter of a fraternity because I had the opportunity to define the culture. I was the first Rush chairman which allowed me the ability to assure a cultural fit of the new members. In the few times I worked in large bureaucracies, I was a bull in a china shop (I know… hard to believe).  I quit chairing for Vistage because while most of the chairs were wonderful people there were a few that were not trustworthy or dependable and I didn’t want to hang out my shingle next to theirs.

I’m a strong flavor and an acquired taste and am not for everyone. I have strong beliefs. I have a personal code of ethics which are not flexible. Often times these things cost me money (I don’t accept referral fees which cost me over $80,000 in the past 12 months).

Now the point of Acquired Taste

If you run a business. If you have discriminating taste. If you are a strong personality. If you are an acquired taste. If you want to be challenged and not surround yourself with yes-people. If you want to be in a room of people who have a strong culture, who have agreed to work together. You should check out Forward ThinkTank Peer Advisory Group. We work together to help each other be better leaders, who make better decisions and achieve better results. Want to find out what it feels like to join a group of leaders and not joiners? Check out ThinkTank.  The first step is a complimentary, no-obligation, online coaching session (no selling, just coaching and you will walk away with a couple of gems to improve your work or life). Schedule a session now by pressing the button below.