This One Thing

Gerwig 2015-05-27

Are you a seafood lover? Honestly, by nature, I’m not. Over the course of time I’ve learned to like good seafood, but I’ve had to work at it. Seafood is a taste I’ve developed slowly, over time (decades actually). Now I love salmon, shrimp, crab, scallops, grouper, oyster, and yes, lobster.

I’m probably more selective about my seafood than I am my beef, chicken or pork. Why? I’m not really certain. But I like my seafood fresh. Perhaps I was spoiled when my parents lived in Beaufort, SC and we could crab and shrimp off their back deck and pier. There’s nothing like fresh crab-cakes and shrimp that have been pulled out of the water and prepared immediately. Or enjoying salmon that has been caught earlier in the day with friends in Puget Sound.

But most of the time, I enjoy seafood at a restaurant, like Etta’s in Seattle or Max Oyster in West Hartford, CT or the Shrimp Shack in Beaufort, SC. They have fresh seafood, they know how to prepare it and how do so consistently. And I don’t mind paying market prices at good seafood restaurants for a great meal. It’s a treat for me.

Since moving to Connecticut a couple months ago, I’ve been exploring various eating establishments. Some are nice, upscale restaurants and some are hole-in-the-water places. For example, a few weeks ago I tried a world-famous Connecticut lobster roll at Frank’s Lobster in Noank, CT. And while Frank’s may be little more than a shack (which is how it started) they serve a mean lobster roll and lobster bisque.

I’ve also tried a unique restaurant in Guilford, CT called “The Place.” At The Place, they have a simple menu and you sit outside on old tree stumps. They’ve been in business for over 40 years and have quite a following. You can get mussels, crab, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, Mississippi mud pie and clams. O yeah, you can also get lobster (which is why I went).

The lobster, corn and clams I got were prepared on the grill and they were delicious! Delicious! Will I go back? Yes. Will I take visitors? Yes. Was it a bit odd to eat grilled lobster at 1pm in the afternoon? Yes, but I wanted to beat the crowds and they opened at 1pm.

What I observed while eating at The Place is that the owners have kept it simple. Their menu is simple. Their food is fresh, but simple. The cook outdoors. They serve outdoors. You eat outdoors. Clean up and preparation is simple. About the only thing that’s indoors is a restroom. And a cooled storage locker for the food.

While I was waiting for the restaurant to open, the seafood truck arrived followed shortly by the produce truck. You see, the food comes in fresh. It’s a Just-In-Time (JIT) system of sorts. They’re not freezing the lobster. They’re not building up inventory. There’s a daily flow. And they have little overhead costs. And they’re highly successful. Why? Because they’ve focused on “This One Thing.”

Their one thing is fresh, simple, grilled seafood that’s enjoyed outside. They’ve built their reputation on this. It’s their focus, their priority. It’s a competitive advantage for them. They know what “This One Thing” is for them and they stick to it.

Can the same be said of you? Your business? Your organization? Are you consistent? Do you have a competitive advantage that separates you from others? What is your reputation built upon? Do you keep focused a narrow set of priorities?

“This one thing” – I’m thinking about this concept this next week. What am I known for? Do I keep it simple? Do I try to be everything to everyone? Or am I focused, building upon my strengths and developing my reputation?

Determine what you’re passionate about and do well. Maintain your focus. Filter out the noise. Build your reputation. Add value to others. Keep it simple. Enjoy your success. … Perhaps that’s a bit simplistic, but you get the idea. People and organizations fail when they try to do it all, when they fail to focus, when they spread themselves too thin.

How about you? What are you know for? What is your area of strength? Your specialty?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]


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