I confess. I’m a Food Network junkie. It’s my go-to channel. My comfort food, so to speak. Quite literally.

One of the shows that I’ve been watching religiously this season is The Next Food Network Star. The candidates have been awesome, and this week, in a twist, viewers get to vote for one of the last four chefs standing in order to select the winner, the next Food Network star. That chef will be announced during this Sunday’s episode.

How does this relate to the usual content for this blog? OK, really?! You know by now that I can find the link to customer and employee experience in almost anything.  (Uh oh. I’m going to have to start to get really creative now!)

So here’s the connection. Each chef must identify his or her point of view, referred to as “POV” on the show, from the outset and develop not only dishes and conversation but also a persona around this POV. The POV is your focus, your promise, your purpose, your “Why.”

Let me tell you the story of one chef, Malcolm Mitchell, and what his journey can teach us as it relates to a brand and the experience with that brand. Malcolm was a great chef with a lot of soul, literally. That was his POV, or so it seemed. But every week, his soulful POV changed, which means he was reinventing the wheel weekly and confusing his viewers. He didn’t want to shoehorn himself into one particular POV; he wanted to be viewed as a diverse chef, with many talents. That’s great. But not for the purpose of this show. Or for the moral of my story.

Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman, the Food Network executives who judged the chefs, kept pushing  Malcolm to focus on one area, one topic, one POV. After eight weeks, it still wasn’t real clear what his POV was, and so they let him go.
Why is this POV so important? I’ll summarize it with these four statements:

  1. You can’t be all things to all customers.
  2. Your purpose must be defined and consistent.
  3. The POV reflects your passion for doing what you’re doing.
  4. And it sets you apart.

It’s really hard to be everything to everyone. That was Malcolm’s problem. For the Food Network, whose shows are very topically defined, it would be hard to create a following for someone who is doing something different every week. I know when I watch Chopped, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Iron Chef America, etc., what I am going to get. Those shows each have one purpose, one objective, and week in and week out, the shows revolve around their respective POVs. Malcolm was sent home because his POV waffled. And in business, if you lose your focus and try to be everything to everyone, you’ll flounder; you’ll lose your footing and your following. The business falters and fails.

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” -Bill Cosby

It’s about consistency, a word I’ve been using a lot lately. Consistency breeds predictability and trust, and trust breeds loyalty. You know what to expect. Your POV guides you and sets expectations with your audience. Your TV viewers know what to expect when they watch your show, just like customers know what to expect when you set brand expectations and deliver on them consistently.

The POV also tells us what you are passionate about. Yes, Malcolm was passionate about soul food, but he couldn’t succinctly tell a story around that passion. He wanted to reinvent himself weekly for the sake of being creative. Not worth it. When you’re truly and madly passionate about something, it’s easy to have a POV and stick with it. Look at some of the cult brands I mentioned a few weeks ago. Clearly, they are passionate about their respective purposes, and as a result, they’ve got raving fans, both customers and employees.

And finally, your POV sets you apart and tells us what makes you different. Why should I buy from you? What’s so special about your products or service versus your competitor’s? As Hugh MacLeod noted in one of his cartoons, “Don’t try to stand out from the crowd. Avoid crowds altogether.” If your POV is unique, it will capture the right audience. It creates a lot of buzz because it is unique. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but remember my first point, you can’t be everything to everyone.

When others know Why we do what we do, we become objects of desire. When they don’t, we’re simply lumped in with all the others who do what we do. -Simon Sinek