Bourdain: 7 Business Tips Inspired by Anthony Bourdain | ChantiZak

I’m writing you from my balcony overlooking Kootenay lake in the hippy capital of Canada, Nelson, B.C.

This is the first “real” vacation I’ve taken since going on mat leave 4 ½ years ago. And let’s face it, waking up every 2 hours with a newborn is hardly vacation.

Needless to say, it’s been awhile since I chilled the eff out. Slept in past 5 on a weekday. Let my to-do list ferment. Released any and all obligation to check Facebook and email 17 times a day. Margaritas in the sunshine and daily belly laughs. ⇐ Yeaaaah, it’s as sweet as it sounds.

While maxin’ relaxin’ in the land of ganja and farmer’s markets, I found a copy of Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential and devoured it like Bourdain would a bowl of pho.

I loved that man.

And at the risk of sounding like a cold hard beyatch, I never usually care when it comes to celebrity deaths.

But with Tony it was different. I felt like I knew him.

He’s inspired me to travel the world. To stay open and curious, not just about food—but about culture and the things we all have in common. A meal made with love is a craving that resides in every human heart.

But in spite of my fangirl status, I’d yet to read the iconic book that kicked off Tony’s incredible career… until now.

Maybe you’re wondering what a brash foodie like Bourdain has to do with copywriting and business?  

Everything everything EVERYTHING.

Here are 7 business and branding lessons I’ve learned from countless hours spent watching Bourdain travel the world in search of amazing people, food, and stories.

First Course

The Appetizer:

A plateful of the inexplicable intricacies of the power of preference.

Thin crust or thick?

Crunchy or smooth?

Medium-rare or well-done?

Human preference isn’t a quantifiable phenomenon and it definitely doesn’t start or end with food.

Tapping into the preference for the raw, real, outrageous, rebellious, and polarizing, Bourdain created a massive fan base around the world.

One of the most fatal flaws I see in the online business world is the desire to please everyone.

This mindset is based in scarcity. The fear that if you get hyper-specific about who it is you’ll serve, you’ll wind up penniless and eating plain penne for dinner every night.

The antidote to this fear is to consistently remind yourself that in a world of over 6 billion people, all you really need to succeed is 1,000 true fans.

And think about it. Finding a thousand people who know, like, and trust you is totally attainable. You don’t have to be everything to everyone.

Second Course

Success Soup:

A delicate and fragrant blend of honesty and courage.

Your truth and nobody else’s.

How do you think vegans felt when they read this quip from Kitchen Confidential

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”

It’s not their truth, so they probably just think he’s an a-s-s. But Bourdain knew, when you speak your truth, you attract and grow an audience that trusts and admires you for the bravery it takes to go against the status quo.

Third Course

Le Salade

Toss all the scary things in a bowl and take a bite.

Bourdain never cowered when faced with a plate of balut, maggot fried rice, or cobra heart.

There is an endless number of ideas and methods out there that could help you grow your business. Sure, not all of them will prove to be delicious (or profitable), but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Treat everything as an experiment.

Fourth Course

The Palate Cleanser

Quality ingredients will almost always make for an unforgettable meal

There’s a big difference between a vine-ripened heirloom green zebra tomato vs. a conventional hothouse variety created to cater to cash flow instead of consumers.

They’re both tomatoes, but one is special, memorable, worth the high price and the other is bland, flavorless, a commodity that prizes convenience over quality.

Which tomato do you want to be?

Fifth Course

The Main Feature

To capture people’s attention, tell them a story worth listening to

Stories are the threads of saffron that transform boring white rice into luxurious golden grains of mystery and delight.

Bourdain transformed the overly flowery and pretentious style of typical travel and food shows and turned it on its head through the power of story.

No matter your topic or realm of expertise, stories are the luxury ingredient that will take your marketing and your message to haute cuisine status.  

The Sixth Course


Ask the sweet and simple questions, the ones that matter…

“What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go, we ask these very simple questions and tend to get some very astonishing answers.” – A.B.

What questions can you ask your audience that will offer you insight into their humanity?

What matters to them and how does your offer tie into making their desires come to fruition?

The only way to find out is to ask.

The Last Course

Coffee & Conversation

It’s not the food, it’s what it represents

Bourdain’s work explored so much more than food.

Under the guise of gustatory travel, it highlighted humanity’s deepest drives: pleasure, connection, relationships, culture, beliefs, love, family.

It shed light on what food represents beyond mere sustenance.

Ask yourself, what does your course, service, or product represent?

For many online entrepreneurs, the answers are freedom, abundance, purpose, happiness, impact, and community.

Find the emotional benefits, the deeper truth beyond the obvious. When you tap into the very human desires that drive your clients and customers to say yes, marketing ceases to be such a struggle.

And a nightcap for good measure…

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

Just swap the word travel for business or writing or doing anything worthwhile.

Bon appetit and let me know which tip you liked best!

Welcome to my corner of the internet where you’ll find no shortage of real talk and proven growth strategies for solopreneurs, professional creators, coaches, and service providers. Grow forth and make it rain in your business, I’ve got your back every step of the way.

Hey superstar! I’m Chanti. 

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