Dinner parties take lots of work. That's only one way they're like any team effort.
Last night we had a dinner party for a friend who's just passed her 85th birthday. It was a resounding success. But like a lot of things we do, that success came from planning and teamwork.
Success came from meeting the "customer's" needs. In this case the birthday girl was our primary customer and the other guests were also customers.
We asked the birthday girl what dishes she wanted. Prime rib was her choice, so we got a good cut of meat from an excellent butcher who could prepare it properly.
We also found out what other guests preferred. One drank a particular brand of scotch whiskey that we don't normally keep. We made sure we had a bottle on hand for the evening.
The dinner was a team effort. My wife, Renee, and I were joined by Jason, a young man who is also a friend of the guest of honor. We split some of the work based on our strengths.
Take cooking. I can't cook. I can heat stuff up just fine. I can even assemble meals. Real cooking involves picking dishes, choosing and modifying recipes, and having everything come out together, perfectly, and on time. I can't do that, but Renee does it superbly.
She took charge of the meal. I think she's the best cook on the planet, but she got help from friends and family and reference sources at every step of the process.
Renee was also the team leader. We discussed all kinds of things, but final choice on everything was up to her. Every good team needs a good leader.
I was in charge of the wine choices. That's my strength on this team, but I wouldn't think of going it alone. I consulted with George at Total Wine. He helped me pick wines that were perfect for the dinner, the guests, and the budget.
There's lots of grunt work that goes into a dinner party and we all did our part. Each one of us did some of the shopping and cleaning. But polishing silver was Jason's big contribution.
Jason likes polishing silver. He finds it a restful break from his work. So he did all the silver polishing and because he's careful, great at detail, and knows something about silver and dinner parties, the job was done far better than if we all did some of it.
When the guests started arriving, we all helped make sure they were comfortable and taken care of. We moved between kitchen and living room and dining room, making sure glasses were filled and conversation was flowing.
The dinner itself was exquisite and fun. Our guest of honor enjoyed the toasts and the conversation. She sat in her place of honor, at the head of the table and beamed. That was exactly what we wanted.
When the party was over and the last guest had departed, we got together and cleaned up. Then we sat down for one more glass of wine and a discussion of what worked and what we might do differently next time.
We often hear that hard work is stressful, but it doesn't have to be. We worked very hard on our birthday dinner party to make it a success, and it was fun all the way.
The party was a team project and we did lots of things to make successful. We did everything we could to make the party a wondrous experience for our "customer." It was important to us that our guests have a wonderful time.
We had a team leader to set a clear goal and direction and to make key choices. We got outside help when we needed it. We paid attention to the important details. All those things and hard work are keys to success in any team project, dinner party or business project.