When you make much, you give. When you fall down, you brush your knees and get up again.
“Do not fight cancer or it will destroy you. Talk to the cancer and make friends.” Truly inspiring words from a cancer survivor, a depression survivor, a natural survivor.
Giorgio The Guru is a humble talented soul who has gone through many trials since he left his native Italy at age 14. When his father passed away, he decided to hop on a train to work and study in Germany.
There he learned to speak his second language and learned also how to work and get along with people many years his senior. Today he speaks five languages, has Japanese and Italian chefs in his employ, and has honed his craft well enough to maintain restaurants and a catering business in Japan, and a few food outlets in the Philippines.
He studied in Switzerland when he was in his twenties, found himself years later in Japan and catered to emperors, and CEOs, Italian designers who flew into Tokyo and the city’s VIPs. He has met and has catered for famous personalities like Jack Welch, Akio Morita of Sony and even designer Diego del Valle.
But he remains grounded. He does not even want the usual press releases or press announcements about his accomplishments. Because his friends and clients are his brand ambassadors. No need for the usual media. His success has been through WOM—word of mouth.
He has gone through difficult times, hard times and yet he remains positive, chiseled by experience and making the best of every situation life throws at him. I thought he had many quotables that night we met, but rather than quite them, I wish you would get to know the person himself. But just for starters, here are some nuggets I picked up over dinner.
Some tips from the Guru:
When I used to see him in Manila I thought he was just an ordinary Joe, coming with his wife to the gym sometimes, being the all-italian owner of a food court brand we now know as Piadina. But once you get to talk to Giorgio, you will know he is a guru at heart. He is so positive even about how he has dealt with opening a business in Manila. He related to us how he got his building permit in Makati. Not one to fall prey to fixers, he sat and waited in the Permits division office until he got his permit (which of course attracted attention and i guess sped up things a bit) because he will not pay or be a victim of corruption. He was “Daang Matuwid” even before PNoy rose to power.
He was in Tokyo and his business was merely two months old when the earthquake hit two years ago. He saw big losses but he rolled with the punches. He realized his loyal clients came back, because he never shortchanged them and offered the same good quality of food albeit at higher costs. His friends, once business became normal, were back in his arms.
He has never complained about Manila or Tokyo or even his native Italy. What you hear from him are words of wisdom and experience. He reminds us that people are naturally good and that good karma is always there for those who do good. Even his reaction to cancer is positive.
He never scrimps on what he serves. He believes that it is the only value that will never change: quality. Despite recessions, economic downturns and the like, people will always look for quality. The best wine, the best cheese, the best steak. He served us the best toro (tuna belly), the best prawns and scallops with caviar on a bed of or shall I say a block of Himalayan sea salt.
And this is my haiku experience during my short stay in Tokyo. It is common for the Japanese to eat the best, but only in small digestible portions. It is usual for them to look for the top quality and enjoy just bits and bites, never huge portions.
Which is how life should be. We sample the best of everyone. And everything. We do not binge on the best, but take it in small portions and savor it one bite at a time.
Even vacations are best enjoyed in between work and not as a three-month harrowing trip around the world. But taken in little sips, like good wine.
I know that Giorgio is now very successful, putting good hours and years in a craft he so loves but having a return on investment in a market that is willing to pay for the quality he offers. He could have put in the same hours in Manila, but given the same thousand people who can eat truffles and wagyu or Miyazaki steak, it would have taken him fifty more years in Manila to accomplish what Tokyo has done to him.
Yet, he loves Manila. And has in fact kept his businesses here albeit turned over to new partners or owners. But economic sense and an astute business acumen made him decide to keep both places—Tokyo and Manila—close to his heart. And both places are different yet the same. Because Giorgio kept his values intact . . . no matter where he lived.
Integrity, perseverance, positivity and quality. Bravo, Giorgio! Manila sure misses a guru like you.
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.