A Lost Shrimp Bisque And the Lessons for the Business of Our Dreams

You may be tempted to make inferences based on the title of this article. If you are assuming that we are professional chefs who emerged from culinary school with the skills to ultimately build a restaurant empire, you would be very very wrong.

I am a serious foodie and wannabe chef. My husband is not. In October of 2001 we had just learned that our second baby was on the way. Thrilled to surprise our family with the news, we decided to host Thanksgiving Dinner.

I planned the meal meticulously. The star was to be a shrimp bisque. For weeks, I collected shrimp shells from friends and family who eyed me suspiciously but gave their shells willingly. Chris humored me and piled bag after bag into the freezer. Finally, it was time to make the stock.

The oven temperature was set to slow roast the mountains of painstakingly collected shells. We set timers and took turns rotating cookie sheets. When the shells were the perfect shade of pink, Chris held the trays while I scooped the aromatic exoskeletons into our largest pot. In went, onions, carrots, herbs and cool water. We then waited and stirred and waited and stirred. If I was bent over the toilet in the throws of all-day-sickness heaves, Chris manned the stove.

Literally weeks after it was conceived, the bisque was ready…and perfect. Because our kitchen was woefully inadequate and every inch of fridge space was occupied, we decided to store the soup in a neighbors fridge.

Chris agreed to brave the unseasonably cold weather and take the soup over for me…I was after all pregnant and sick. Two steps from our front door his foot hit an icepatch. All I heard was the clang of metal and the slosh of spilling soup.

What all this has to do with building a successful medical practice will now become clear.

From the day we met, Chris and I were friends and partners; partners in Anatomy Lab, partners on the IV team, partners in soup. The complete trust and unflinching respect we developed for each other grew stronger with each year and life milestone.

Now, eleven years since the unfortunate soup incident, we are reminded of it’s lessons every day–in our business and in our home.

1. Put your trust in your spouse and partner. Even when the lid does not seem to be on tight enough, let him walk out with your soup.

2. Rejoice together constantly, blame each other never. We danced around that soup and then mourned it’s loss–together. When one of us is down because of an unhappy patient the other reaches down with a free hand. When one of us gets an accolade, its our accolade.

3. Be best friends. At the site of my green face, Chris silently took that spoon from me. He doesn’t want to stir soup, balance the accounts, or analyze the vaccine bills–but when I need him to, he does. I don’t want to take the dog to the vet or get the car inspected but when he needs me to, I do. THAT is what friends do for each other.

4.Play your strengths. I love to cook–so I cook. I love to write so I update our social media outlets. Chris loves to teach so he is in charge of homework. He is ever calm and diplomatic so he handles issues with the staff and the confiscating of kids cell phones.

5. Respect each other both at home and at work. Lets get real, we get mad. We fight. But, we have learned that anger can be tempered. At home, we have an “exit word”: the word we will say when an argument is spiralling out of control. Our word is “Bouchon.” (one of our favorite Younville, CA restaurants). Memories of our time there make every fight seem silly. Most importantly, we are mindful of our interactions with each other in front of our children and our employees. With both, even when we are miles apart, we present a united front first and argue later and in private.

In seventeen years of marriage, we have managed to raise three gorgeous and amazing children, build a mulitmillion dollar medical practice, and made gallons and gallons of soup.

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