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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 2: New York, Carpe Diem

 

Sometimes opportunities just present themselves; sometimes we have to go and make them.

 

Back in New York in July 1989, I had made an opportunity for myself simply by opening the Yellow Pages.

 

However, not everything was as rosy as the impression I gave.

 

During the conversation with the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant manager, several questions asked and some comments made gave me a certain amount of trepidation and no little fear.

 

I have already mentioned that New York was a menacing place, and as a naïve, 21-year-old Geordie in the Big Apple, I felt very uneasy.

 

More than this, I feared for my safety.

 

So, I made a quick choice after a quick internal chat

 

6 o’clock came and went and I didn’t go for the job.

 

I really was concerned for my safety, but assured myself that given this opportunity had been so easy to come by, others surely couldn’t be much more difficult.

 

The next day I continued where I left off, calling restaurants. No bites.

 

So, I went out and pounded the pavement. The questions were always the same.

 

Do you have a Social Security number? Yes.

Do you have any experience? No.

What are the main ingredients of a Caesar salad? No idea.

What things contribute to the ambience of a successful restaurant? Er…

 

It was pretty obvious I was not a good candidate to be a waiter in a restaurant and couldn’t even get a job as a busboy.

 

After a while, I became disillusioned and sought solace in Carty’s Bar on Third Avenue.

 

I then took a short walk to Washington Square Park where I bought a well-thumbed copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and this is what I did: I took the train from Grand Central Station up to New Haven, Connecticut, found my way to Route 95 and stuck out my thumb. I was hitchhiking.

 

On reflection, this seems a far riskier endeavour than going to the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant to see how things would turn out.

 

What I learned from this was to investigate situations thoroughly and to rely on data and references, rather than uninformed opinion and emotion.

 

And also, to seize the day.

 

 

 

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