Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

Will Guidara 2022
Read: 2023
Education/Leadership, Non-Fiction

My friend Marcia recommended this book. She is a highly successful businesswoman who has developed a successful business that thrives on making her clients feel special, connected, and karma-rich. After reading the book, I can see why she loved it.

Will Guidara tells his story of how he took an excellent restaurant and turned it into an extraordinary one, His restaurant was built of course on outstanding culinary arts, but it was distinguished by a commitment to unreasonable hospitality, and eventually named as the #1 restaurant in the world. The book traces the ups and downs of the path towards its #1 ranking. But as Simon Sinek says in the forward, “This book is much bigger than that. It is a book about how to treat people. How to listen. How to be curious. And how to learn to love the feeling of making others feel welcome. It is a book about how to make people feel like they belong.” Yeah. What he said.

I love the focus on service. As a lifelong teacher and educator, I have long taken great pride in being a public servant. And while some treated me that way, the majority of those that I serve have shown appreciation and gratitude. It means the world.

Teachers get a lot of grief for their 8 to 3 school day hours. And yes, a few keep those hours. I don’t understand that acceptance of what can only be mediocre teaching at best. But I remain grateful for the overwhelming majority of teachers who work long days, weekends, and during the summers, who live to serve, who strive to make students and families feel welcome, who seek to inspire curiosity, and who do whatever they can make students feel they belong. Guidara’s commitment to all of that could inspire teachers, and I think he could be inspired by witnessing what happens in classrooms every day.

A few quotes that I loved:

  • “Let your energy impact the people you’re talking to, as opposed to the other way around.”
  • “Be the swan – all that the guest should see was a gracefully curved neck and meticulous white feathers sailing across the pond’s surface – not the webbed feet, churning furiously below, driving the glide.”
  • “You must be able to name for yourself why your work matters.”
  • From Teller, the quiet one from Penn and Teller, “Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.”

And a subtheme throughout the book that I absolutely loved was Guidara’s reliance on his father for wisdom and advice. I feel lucky to have had a lifetime of wisdom and advice from my father, and it was wonderful to see such a relationship celebrated in print.

You can purchase the book here.

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