A group of investment bankers sat down. It was going to be a good night for Danny Meyer. That was good, it was three-months into his first restaurant.
The man at the head of the table asked for a chardonnay. Meyer delighted. He’d just got in a premier cru Rousseau. It was $45 a bottle. In 2015, Meyer joked, that might buy you half a glass.
Meyer walked out and proudly presented the wine.
“That’s not a chardonnay,” the big banker said.
“What I needed to have done at that very moment, which I trust I’ve done since. When he said, ‘This is not a chardonnay’, I should have said, ‘It sounds like you want a California chardonnay.'”Danny Meyer, YouTube 2015
Instead, Meyer argued that it was. It went back and forth and the banker brought in the table, each member of which nodded in agreement that it was indeed not a chardonnay.
It was probably less than a minute. Meyer retreated and returned with a cheaper wine from California and that’s the story behind his most important lesson, the irrelevancy of being right.
Part of the wine boom from 1980 onward was because wine was presented as doing one job: conveyed in an inaccessible language. Robert Modavi first communicated differently. The Barefoot founders did too. They found out there were other ‘jobs’ of wine.
When I delivered newspapers as a kid I loved the Best Buy ads where I could compare MB and GB and RAM on every new Dell, Compaq, and Gateway computer. But what really mattered was the job: will this play Warcraft II?
Apple figured this out.
Meyer figured this out.
This trips up operators all the time because it’s economic to use shorthand. But shorthand cuts out the magic, the feeling, the job—which is the soul of what a customer hires a product. Don’t be right, do your job.