• Adam Tarnow

How Are They Still Around?

The pandemic took out one of my favorite restaurants. Twisted Root in Richardson has been closed for almost a year now. It's always sad to see local businesses shut down. Two weeks ago, while driving around, I saw something shocking. I saw a Long John Silvers, and it was open for business. Yes, Long John Silvers is still around. It makes me wonder how did they survive the pandemic, and Twisted Root didn't? I know one person who likes Long John Silvers (I'm looking at you, Ryan Howell). I've always put Long John Silvers in a box. The box is labeled, "They took McDonald's worst sandwich (the Filet-o-Fish) and made an entire restaurant out of it." That's gutsy. And to be clear, there are only two items in this box: Long John Silvers and Captain D's. Here is how I like to imagine this went down. Two college friends were nursing a hangover one afternoon at their local McDonalds and made a bet. Frat boy 1: "Why did I order this sandwich again?" (Looks at his Filet-o-Fish) Frat boy 2: "I told you. They only make like three of those a day because no one orders them. Unless, of course, it's lent season." Frat boy 1: "Can you imagine if someone created an entire restaurant centered around this sandwich?" Frat boy 2: "That would be terrible." {Two minutes of silence as they both think about this idea} Frat boy 2: "How much would you pay me to start it?" Frat boy 1: "I'll get my dad to invest. I think he actually likes this sandwich." Frat boy 2: "Are you serious?" Frat boy 1: "As serious as an empty keg." Frat boy 2: "That's a stupid saying. No one says that." Frat boy 1: "Okay, then as serious as a heart attack that comes from eating too many Filet-o-Fishes." Frat boy 2: "Done. Hold my milkshake. I've got work to do." So, what am I learning from the fact ole' Long John is still around? A few rapid-fire thoughts:

  • I don't have to please everyone to be successful.

  • When you know who you are, you can stay focused.

  • Focus is probably a big key to their success.

  • Just because there's a thread on Reddit questioning your existence doesn't mean you're doomed.

Personally, bullet point #3 is the one that will keep me up at night. Over the last six weeks, I've had four good friends tell me, "I don't know what your business does." In case you are wondering...if you have started a new business, this is not encouraging feedback. I'm grateful for their candor. I know they are trying to help. But man, it's also really humbling to hear. Especially as a person who has developed a bit of a reputation for being an expert on "clarity." Candidly, it's embarrassing to know I'm struggling to apply clarity and focus to my own life and business. So, that's what I'm working on. Clarity around who I am and what I do. Had a big conversation this morning about it with Jackie. I feel like some sizeable changes are on the horizon. Even though I can make a few jokes about Long John Silvers, I respect them. They know who they are, and they are executing their strategy. They survived a crazy year and will probably be around for many years to come. Good on them; I need to get to work.

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