“Mise en Place” at Work

Jill FoucreOne of my beloved clients, Jill Foucré, proprietress of Marcel’s Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn, IL, was just featured in the Wall Street Journal in “A Little Spice After a Career in Health Insurance: Former Executive Answered Call of the Food Business.” How proud I am of Jill and all she has accomplished–and I have to admit I was thrilled to read her reference to the “executive coach” who helped her on her journey (c’est moi!). Jill is a force of nature, one of the smartest and shrewdest business women I know, and every time I walk or drive by Marcel’s I get a little misty-eyed, thinking of the work we did together. She is the poster girl for Dreams + Strategic Planning = Success.

In this week’s “Chef Talk” blog on Marcel‘s website, Chef Paul Lindemuth discusses the concept of “mise en place,” a French phrase meaning “putting in place” or “setting up.” I learned this phrase while my son Will was studying in the culinary program at our local community college… and Chef Paul’s reminder of how important it is to prepare the kitchen before beginning to cook made me think of how mise en place applies to other areas of our lives, including our work lives and our careers.

First, there’s the analogy of preparing our space to work. A chef makes sure that he or she has all the ingredients before embarking on a recipe. He may have to stock the pantry ahead of time, or she may have to measure and set aside certain things in preparation for sautéing. Likewise, in our work, we need to make sure we have everything in place to be successful. That’s why there are so many books and resources on office organization and time management. Having the proper supplies may seem like a small thing, but if you don’t have the tools to do your work it’s hard to march on to greater success.

Then there’s the parallel concept of having a place for everything, and everything in its place. Having systems that work, knowing where things are and how to retrieve them, is another subtle yet powerful tool for achieving results.

Once when I was working on a project–the biggest project of my work life to date–I misplaced the file. My office suffered from neglect, with mail piled up on one side of the desk and file folders on the other. I freaked out. How could I do the work if I couldn’t find the file? So I did what all true Divas do… I called in my “posse.” Linette George of Get Organized by George swooped in and helped me not only find the file (yay!) but also organize my office in a way that led to higher productivity, a sense of order and peace of mind. I still use strategies she shared with me during that office make-over, including keeping my stapler close to the desk where I use it. Mise en place.

You’re up to big things–I know! Are you prepared to execute? Do you have everything you need to be successful–the right tools, the proper technology, the people to support you? Like a master chef, take a look around you and make sure everything you need is in place before moving forward. Then, begin.

[Photo credits: Masthead–The Perfect Bite; Jill Foucré photo by Anne Farnum featured in The Wall Street Journal]


5 thoughts on ““Mise en Place” at Work

  1. Vickie, you honor and humble me with this blog post! Thanks for sharing the story and your wisdom. I can honestly say that I am not sure I would have done it without you. – Jill

    1. Jill–I am the one who is honored and humbled to have worked with you! (I sound like Siri when I thank her for giving me a phone number… she says “It is I who should be thanking YOU.”) To be on your team as you built your vision for Marcel’s was a joy and to see you profiled in the WSJ for your courage was beyond thrilling. Congratulations on a wonderful article!

  2. Oh Vickie, you are a MAHvelous writer my dear. I love the message. I think the process of the gentleman honing his craft was purposeful enough, regardless of whether an audience heard his words. You writing in your journals all these years have made you a very insightful and thoughtful writer, regardless of anyone ever reading the journals. Thank you for sharing!

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