The documentary follows Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-star Michelin restaurant. He has been making sushi for 75 years. He has a mission, which he says he hasn't completed yet, to perfect the art of sushi.
Jiro says that once you have chosen your career in life you must immerse yourself in it fully. You must fall in love with your work and never complain about having to do it. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. He says that this is the key to success and being thought of as an honorable person.
Jiro goes on to say that it’s about making an effort and repeating the same thing every day, whilst remembering that there is always room for improvement. Talent + Hard work = Success.
Jiro is a very humble man and is quick to praise the team around him in the restaurant. Even though his name is behind the success and popularity of the restaurant, he takes great pains to talk about the fact that his apprentices, who are also very skilled, work very hard behind the scenes to get the ingredients ready to bring out to the front of the restaurant for him and his son to finally prepare for eating. He says that it’s this team work that makes it all possible.
His also points out that his apprentices are required to work for 10 years with him before he considers them at a “professional level” when it comes to Sushi making. They are also at the top of their game. Some apprentices only last a day working there as it’s a tough place to survive and succeed. Jiro is very demanding and has extremely high expectations.
His philosophy is to continually elevate his profession and concentrate on doing the same thing day in day out and finding ways to improve it. He has found ways to improve the taste of Octopus for example by having it massaged for 50mins before being prepared for the Sushi. When it comes to the ingredients, both Jiro and his sons are extremely sensitive to how the ingredients feel to the touch when they buy from the local markets. They know in the markets which tuna or shrimp will create the best tasting sushi.
Jiro also has the ability to charge a high premium for a seat / meal in his restaurant. He only has ten seats and they are fully booked two months in advance. It is the most expensive sushi in Tokyo. He can only do this because of his passion, craftsmanship and a dedication to consistently providing a great experience. A food critic who was interviewed said that “the amazing thing is, every time I have eaten at Jiro’s across the years, the Sushi is always amazing. I‘ve never had a bad meal there”.
My own personal take away from this documentary after watching it, is that Jiro has had an unrelenting passion for Sushi for more than 75 years. Every person connected to his business; whether it was the tuna seller in the market or the specialist rice maker they all responded to and were infected by his passion and professionalism to his craft. Jiro sees himself as a craftsman. This attitude is something we should all try to embody when it comes to running our small businesses.
It doesn’t matter what service or product you are providing you need to be passionate about it enough to try every day to improve it. To not settle for “it’s good enough”. The documentary reinvigorated my sense of wanting to continually improve Zoostr and make it the best tool possible for small businesses in India.
Jiro also shows us that a brand is built over time. Too many people nowadays lack the patience to build something over time. We are not patient enough because this is how the world works these days. It takes time for the word to spread and time for you to build up your skills so that they dwarf those of your competitors.
I think these lessons are also equally, if not more, important for people working inside large organisations, where the feeling of pride and passion in what you do gets lost inside the culture, processes and size of the company.
CEO’s today need to make sure they instill a bit of “Jiro” spirit inside the people of their companies – it will go a long way to helping build a competitive edge. After all, your people are your only true competitive edge in business because they can’t be copied quickly.
So, if you are running a small business, or working inside a company or maybe an entrepreneur just beginning your start up – make a cup of coffee and watch this documentary. It will be an hour of your life well spent. Be inspired by Jiro Ono and take some of his obsession with excellence of customer experience and implement it into your working life. Do this consistently over time and you may just be surprised by the results.