August 22, 2014 | By Ron Miller |
In my favorite Ted Talk, Simon Sinek makes the point that people don’t buy what you make, they buy why you make it. Tonight I stopped for dinner at The Tamale House in Tigard, Oregon and Simon’s point was really hammered home for me.
I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say The Tamale House is a hole-in-the-wall. Situated in a small strip mall next to a 7-Eleven. It’s not much to look at. It’s basically 6 tables crammed in together, a cash register, and a stove piled high with aluminum pots. In fact, when my wife and I walked in, I was going to turn around except my wife whispered to me, “It got good reviews.”
We ordered 4 tamales and some chips and sat down. About a minute later, the pretty young lady from the register delivered our food. The tamales were good. Good enough that with mouths full, we talked about coming back one day.
About then, a man burst into the place, loudly teasing the man at the counter who was wearing an LA Dodgers baseball cap. A couple of jabs later and the two men were hugging. From there, the man walked around and hugged the young woman at the register and turned to the young man in the back and said, “Take grandma home. She’s tired.”
Ahhh…a family business.
A minute later, the man was at our table. “I’ve never seen you in before. Hi, my name is Tony. My wife isn’t here but her name is Magdalena.” With a sweep of his hand he gestured, “All these young people are my kids and that’s grandma. Thank you for coming to the Tamale House. How is your food?”
In under a minute, we went from wanting to come back one day, to wanting to come back tomorrow…and it had nothing to do with the food.
People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
Tony’s why was everywhere. It was in these bright-eyed kids of his. It was in the picture by the register of one of his daughters holding a softball bat. It was in grandma who was clearly beat after a long day of making tamales. It was in his need to introduce us to Magdalena, even though she wasn’t there at that minute.
Plenty of restaurants are family run. That’s not my point. The point is that Tony wanted us to know why The Tamale House existed and why it was important to him. Tony cares about his place because it’s an extension of his family. He cared about us because now we’re part of all of this.
Do you know why you’re in business?
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk.