I Want to Cook With Confidence


Recently I was asked to teach a 6 week cookery class at night. I run Creativity workshops for professionals where there is particular emphasis on developing Creative Confidence. Embracing new challenges and developing new perspectives are principles that I encourage people to adopt in order that they develop their own creativity so, even though I was a bit daunted, I accepted. Some years ago I gave up my IT career and trained as a chef and since then have become a qualified trainer, but until now these two aspects on my career have never met. To be honest, in the days leading up to the first class I was quite terrified. Even though I made my living getting entrepreneurs to play with markers and playdough, getting people to cook seemed impossible. I spent a lot of time poring over recipes and planning time down to the last minute.

When finally the first night arrived and it turned out nobody did have a hammer, I realised that this class was very similar to my other classes. People don’t go to cookery classes for recipes or technique, unless they are particularly advanced classes. Most people arrive because they have a belief about themselves –‘I can’t cook, in the same way that I hear ‘I’m not creative’ in my Creativity Workshops. Immediately we are hamstrung because we develop these beliefs over time and they become fact. Our lazy brains can hang on to these statements because it’s easier than coping with ambiguity.

I believe that everyone can cook and everyone is creative. We’ll deal with creativity later – today we’ll talk about cooking. Here are a few lessons that I shared with the class:


1. Cooking is an art, Baking is a science – this means that in baking you must’ve measure everything exactly and follow all the rules because there is an alchemy that occurs to ensure dough rises. Cooking on the other hand can be more about free expression…recipes are guidelines. If you don’t like garlic and it’s in the recipe, don’t put it in. It’s your food. (But seriously, who doesn’t like garlic…….)

2. When you are cooking at home it’s usually for you, your family or friends. These people will not be scoring your food on the way home in a taxi…people come to your house to see you, if they get a free meal that’s a bonus. Television judges get paid a lot of money to be pantomime villains for ratings. (I own a Gordon Ramsay book that I rarely cook from because I imagine him shouting every instruction at me!)

3. It is very difficult to burn things….smoke pouring out of ovens is a tv comedy vehicle. Yes, kitchen fires can cause serious damage but things burn in the kitchen usually due to inattention…so if you are new to cooking, just do that. After a while you’ll notice that devoting your time solely to cooking a meal can be quite relaxing if you let it. There is mindfulness to be had in slowly stiring a risotto.

4. Try doing your food shop without a list. Wander around the aisles and look. Concentrate on the fresh fruit, veg, meat and dairy products. Find something and stop and imagine how you would cook it. Many of the worlds top chefs base their daily menu on the best available ingredients they can find in the food markets each morning. Pick out something because it looks good. The internet is awash with recipes so you won’t be stuck.

5. There are always foods that we don’t like but if you’re not allergic, don’t refuse to try like a 4 year old. The pretend airplane is not a good luck for a grown up. If you dislike something try being specific about why. Is it too salty, sweet, too much vinegar, the right balance of hot and sour? This challenges your creative brain to come up with solutions!

6. Many people fear cooking meals because getting everything on the table at the same time is stressful. If this is a problem, start with a one-pot dish.


Have you seen your creativity?

You put it down somewhere, maybe when you were I 7 or maybe after that creative teenage burst but you haven’t seen it about for sometime. Is it gone forever? Has it just faded due to neglect? Chances are it has been kept like a guilty secret in the back of the mind. Most of us, grown ups, have either been told or come to our own realisation that creativity is for kids and not for the serious professional, unless you the arty type, the hippy types who were born with oodles of talent. But what if we challenge that belief?

When you were 5 and someone put a bunch of simple art supplies, markers, coloured paper, felt etc, On a table in front of you, what would you do? Dive in? Of course you would. You wouldn’t stop and consider thst it was a waste of time, or worry about other peoples assesment of your output.

But step forward to the present – what would your reaction be now? Chances are you’ll suddenly have an important call to make. Why? Generally playing makes us uncomfortable because we have lost the habit. In a work situation this discomfort can be excrutiating at first. I think that at some point a lot of us have become convinced that if we cannot play music or paint to a professional standard then it is not worth pursuing. But what if we enjoy it? Even if you can draw stick men you can convey a story. Had an unusual encounter this week? Or even a boring one? Take 2 minutes to draw it with a stick man and bubbles?

So many people find the idea of creativity uncomfortable and find it hard to see how it is relevant in their daily lives but did you know that in a recent IBM worldwidse survey, creativity was considered to be the top management competency, yet only 25% of us will admit to being creative. Becoming connected with our creativity is the prime way that we can differenciate ourselves and our businesses. Got Tqm, so can everyone else, Lean Six Sigma blackbelt, they can get it too, MBA, same. Ideas – there isn’t a course to get them, but you can learn to develop your creative confidence and the confidence of those around you so that you can become a creative powerhouse!

More soon..Grainne

People dont buy what you do, they buy You

People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it, your beliefs & passion. People buy you and secondary (not necessarily) your product.

Today, I watched a video which briefly analysed Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’, not the words that he announced, but the context of the speech. I have a dream oraratory is about a goal, a vision, not a ten point plan, that politicians are so in favour of delivering. Does this inspire confidence in you?

There was no internet, radio or television advertising to create the public awareness of the speech, 250,000 people watch and listened to Dr. King give this, word of mouth was used to generate awareness, and those who attended believed in the word of mouth of those that spread the word, they bought what those who believed in Dr. King was about, their passion, belief’s.

Think about JFK and his vision of landing a man on the moon before the decade was over, he set a challenge, and let those that were ultimately able to do the technical aspects of this to do the work. They bought into his passion, same with Dr. King.

I’m going to throw out a question to those that are Apple fan’s, why do you buy an apple product, mac, iphone, nano, and the other products?

Is it the why, the what or the how that makes you buy ?

Early adopters get the why of products, they spend the money before the product is rarely even commercially reviewed, and they take the chssssssance. If I commented that the passion about Apple and its products is they challenge the status quo, and think differently about the environment we live in‘. Would this comment ring true?

Many companies have product lines that compete with products that Apple have, but would you consider them innovative compared to Apple products, probably not, why? They are as innovative as Apple, think Samsung, Dell, HP, other consumer related manufactures & retailers. Do they inspire the same reverence as Apple.

So do people buy you, your passion, belief’s and your confidence or just your products/service. Think of the last sales pitch you gave, your efforts – win or loose?     You need to have passion, belief in yourself, this confidence is projected onto others. Entrepreneurs, work many hours on their products, devote countless hours to perfecting their offering, getting so involved with their business, often at the detriment of personal commitments. But when they get in front of clients, this passion shines out.

We recently had a meeting with a person who could be a champion for our business. We explained our business, our passion in working with rural business, our confidence in our abilities in helping clients.  We were not selling a service or product, just ourselves.


This clip is a classic example, Dragon’s Den show in Ireland, watch how the pitch is delivered, the confidence, the belief in herself, and the product secondly. The investors bought into her and then her product.