Anyone that knows me knows that I love cars and I also love history. Now, to marry the two of them well, that would just be the best.
So, I am going to tell you a story of a man and his passion for creating, his passion for racing and his love for all things mechanical.
First Let’s paint the picture and put you in the drivers’ seat (so to speak). Making you the star of this story.
Imagine you are a very successful entrepreneur and that you bought yourself an exotic sports car. Now, imagine that this amazing high-end exotic sports car has a problem (not that they every do) and you bring it not to the dealership, but to the manufacturer to get it repaired. Why, because first you can and second they really don’t have dealerships. They manufacturer are a one-of-a-kind exotic sports cars and your car is like a custom tailored suit.
You bring your amazing exotic car to the manufacturer to get it repaired (several times in fact) and the situation is not getting better. The issue is not resolved and you just want it fixed. What do you do? You, being who you are, decide to reach out to your peer at the company who is the CEO. The conversation starts off between you and their CEO. “Hi so and so, just to let you know, I have brought my car in several times to get it fixed and the same situation keeps cropping up. The gears need tweaking because it runs rough as I am shifting. I really don’t want to keep bringing the car back to get the same situation fixed. Can you please do something about it and I think you can solve the problem by doing this”. Then imagine the owner/CEO saying “it is your foot and you don’t know what you are talking about, because you don’t know how to drive the car.” Ah, um, what!? That would be my reaction along with a few choice words, but what would your first reaction be? Now you are not just any customer. You produce tractors for agriculture and they work in the dirt and not for racing or for road driving. The CEO of the car company reminds you of that and insults added to the injury and in this case this little tete-a-tete got this entrepreneur off to the races (literally).
It shouldn’t matter who you are as the customer, because you are the customer. I would put the question to you. If you had a way of keeping you as a customer and perhaps fixing the problem what would you do? Now, it just may be that being right or wrong is not the issue and getting the issue resolved is what is important, right? As it stands in this case both of are full of pride and this instance you decided to do what? Well, you decide to create your very own luxury sports car company and why not? You are a sports car fanatic and you love all things mechanical. That was the story of the beginning of Lamborghini and their rivalry with Ferrari. If you decided to create your own company, congratulations, you would be in league with Lamborghini.
Two things we should learn from this little story. First always, always listen to your customer and second never believe that they do not know what they are talking about. Always take your customer seriously. They just may be there to save you from yourself and help save your business. Lamborghini went on to create, in my opinion, some of the best supercars ever and one can argue that the Lamborghini Miura was the first real supercar. Oddly enough it was a car made against the wishes of Signore Lamborghini secretly made by the engineering team. Until they told him about it and he said “go for it”.
I truly believe that each one of us has a creative spirit and each of us can make a difference. It does not matter if it is cars or hamburgers or brooms. What matters it that we focus our energy and drive ourselves to create. The best way to start, is to start of small. Whatever you decide to focus on could very well be your passion. It will take some time to find it. We cannot all be like Signore’ Lamborghini that found a passion for all things mechanical early in life. It just may take a little time.
Everyone knows about Tabasco Sauce, right? The original one in that small bottle, with the fire red sauce clear for all to see, and the McIlhenny name proudly stamped on its diamond-shaped label.
There’s a fine story that John McIlhenny made his own concoction, which he gave away to friends and neighbors in recycled cologne bottles. 150 years on, the family business still runs from the estate his wife’s family, the Averys, had bought not long after the Louisiana Purchase, and where they famously returned to after the Civil War. Some stories say John McIlhenny was a cook, but the family recounts he was a banker in Louisiana, having travelled south in the 1840s, like many from the East Coast, to seek his fortune. It was his son, John Jr., who made a business from what was John Sr.’s productive pastime.
How did this spicy sauce get started? The McIlhennys were not the first to make a hot, picante pepper sauce, that’s for sure. It may be that John Sr. knew a certain Col. Maunsel White, who some years earlier had started producing his own version of a fiery pepper sauce. One story goes that Col. While sold John McIlhenny some seeds, which John planted, harvested, and used for his version (cold fermenting instead of stewing).
Our suggestion doesn’t come from that time; it comes from the time a generation or two before both McIlhenny and White. It might have happened around the time the Keillers came up with their idea for marmalade, the time when New Orleans was still French. Back then there was a lot of small trade up and down those old Caribbean ports – sugar and slaves, calicoes and calabashes, peppers and pigs. One day a weary old boat pulled into the sun-bleached wharf of a ramshackle fishing port somewhere along the coast east of New Orleans. The boat sat so low in the water, some splashed down into bilges, where sacks of peppers, fresh from the fields in Tabasco, sat. By the time the boat was unloaded, the peppers had soaked so long they had lost all their firmness.
The captain wrote the soft peppers off as a loss, rammed his ragged hat on his head, walked past the saloon with a sack of the soggiest peppers slung over his shoulder (it was too hot to quench his thirst with grog and the sun was scratching at his neck anyway), and headed off to the eat-all-sorts-of-things eatery his wife ran. He wandered through the kitchen, dropping the wet sack of peppers by where his wife kept the stock of food she cooked up daily. He glanced over to his wife, ladled some fish stew out of the big bowl that squatted darkly over a low charcoal fire, sat down wearily on a long wind-carved bench, sucked his teeth and settled down to eat. The stew tasted decidedly waxy, the way one-day old fish stew always does.
Some time later (it might have been a day or two later) one of the kitchen hands noticed the soggy sack of peppers, the air ripe with liquid spiciness. This person, whom we shall never know, went to the captain’s wife and said “Ma’am, can I make a suggestion about those peppers that were left in seawater? I think we can make a sauce out of them, which will make the food we serve much tastier. And it will stop people thinking the meat is old too.”
And so it was that the first American hot pepper sauce was created. What we don’t know if they stewed the peppers, or left them to “stew in the their own juice” for a while. Either way though, that explains how salt got into the sauce. McIlhenny was simply lucky — his in-laws’ farmhouse sat, and still sits, on a mountain of it!
Now that’s a spicy suggestion!
A story inspired by events, as legend tells us
Carl Ottersen @ 2018