The Cheese Board: Closing That Big Business Deal in Style
July 25, 2021
by The Big Cheese
Will spent weeks meticulously planning every detail of the biggest business dinner of his life. He bought the finest ingredients. He bought the finest wines. He even performed several dry runs to ensure nothing was left to chance.
But despite his best efforts, things didn’t go quite as planned. The dinner that was supposed to seal a huge business deal for this ambitious entrepreneur was a catalog of disasters.
Right at the beginning of the big night, Will realized that, to his horror, he had served corked wine to his potential client. And that was after spilling it in his guest’s lap.
Things didn’t get any better for Will. His succulent filet mignons were tough and dry. And instead of rare, they were on the verge of cremation. His peas were like bullets; his potatoes, like slurry.
Just when the situation looked beyond saving, out came the cheese. A selection of rich, creamy cheeses with bold notes and mellow undertones dazzled on the dinner table.
Sharp cheddar was the star of the show. That golden block of succulent heaven turned things around for Will. His client basked in the glow of dairy goodness — with burned steak and foul wine but a distant memory.
Will’s decision to serve bold food paid off. That final throw of the dice came in the form of a simple cheese board. The two bonded over food; they broke bread together. And, in that moment, their relationship developed into something more personal — more human.
Of course, the deal was signed. Will succeeded in spite of his mistakes on the night. The allure of sharp cheddar had turned things around. The power of food had helped two strangers become friends.
The Moral of Will’s Cheesy Story
What is the moral of Will’s story? Perhaps it’s a tale of the spiritual connection we enjoy with food. We use food to demonstrate love and respect. We celebrate by sharing food with others. We express our caring, nurturing side with food. And, as Will learned, we use it to gain the confidence of the people we meet.
Will made the bold decision to host his own dinner party to win a new business contract. And by choosing bold food to end his evening, he succeeded.
Food is and always has been a huge part of doing business. The business lunch has delivered billions of dollars in deals over the years. Whether it’s a sales pitch, a conference, or a meeting, food plays a crucial role in doing business. But what’s happening here? Food psychologist Marc David believes food is love. From the moment we’re born, our experience of food is intertwined with being nurtured. We associate food with being touched — and with the soothing voices of our parents.
According to Marc David, our infant brains can’t differentiate between all of these positive sensations. As a result, they’re merged together in a joyous celebration of love. Perhaps we take this association with us throughout our lives.
For most people, eating is a positive experience. But what separates us from the animals is cooking. Preparing food for someone else to eat is intimate and loving. It’s a selfless act that tells people you’re concerned about their health and nourishment. And this type of thoughtfulness is very important in business.
Cultivating Business Relationships
What is “business?” Some might say that it’s a series of transactions between two or more people. Entrepreneur and business expert Alex Chriss believes that business is still about human relationships — despite the increasing use of technology.
Chriss believes that business will always, at its heart, involve a human element. We need to be respected and appreciated. We need to ask nuanced questions about business deals. And we need to feel an emotional connection with the deals we do. No algorithm or software platform is ever going to satisfy these human instincts.
We already know how important food is to the nurturing of human relationships. So if doing business is all about human interaction, it follows that food has an integral role to play.
Professor Lou Imbriano is both a successful businessman and an expert in sports marketing. He talks about the role relationships play in doing business. He believes that people can design these relationships in a “relatively brief time” using a principle called Relationship Architecture.
Imbriano says the process begins by envisioning the desired relationship — then creating a plan to make it happen. And food plays an important role in most plans. Imbriano learned how to use food as a way of nurturing relationships while growing up in Italy. His family would regularly entertain friends and relatives with food and conversation. He believes these experiences make the hospitality aspect of doing business more natural.
You can use food as a way to accelerate the bond of trust required for lasting business relationships. If you’re bold with your choices — in the way Will was with his cheese selection — you can cultivate trust and respect in a matter of hours.
Food Is Love
That sharp cheddar Will served his potential client was far more than an auspicious end to a disastrous meal. Will was using the most powerful of human emotions to seal the deal — love.
There are countless examples of how people use food to express love. That first home-cooked meal is often a sign that a budding romance is getting serious. A mother cooking a
lavish feast for her adult children every Sunday. Or the homemade lasagne you take to a neighbor’s house following a sudden bereavement.
Whether or not we do it on a subconscious level, we offer food to express love. And there are many kinds of love. According to The Conversation, love is “an emotion that keeps people bonded and committed to one another.” You could say Will made his bold statement to create a lasting bond with his new client. He was bold in his food choices, and his determination paid off.
Food is Memory
Have you ever eaten food and been taken back to a happy time in your life? Just like music, food has the power to stir up emotions linked to positive memories.
Smells and tastes can bring memories flooding back. Take Will, for instance. Every time he tastes a creamy, sharp cheddar in the future, he’ll be transported back to that fateful dinner. He’ll remember the conversation he had with his client. Those positive emotions will return, and they’ll be comforting — inspirational.
Will and his client bonded over bold food. And every time they share that same cheese, they’ll be reminded of what finally brought them together as business partners.
Food is Connection
According to an article published on Nature.com, human beings are “a social species that relies on cooperation to survive and thrive.” We’re social creatures who rely on one another to achieve common goals — and we always have been.
Eating alone has never really been considered normal. Have you ever walked into a busy restaurant and asked for a table for one? If you have, you probably felt a little awkward. That’s because, for humans, eating is usually a shared experience — a chance to connect.
All major social occasions involve food. Weddings, birthday parties, get-togethers, business conferences, and high school proms use food as a vehicle for connection and shared experience.
The Bible includes stories of Jesus “breaking bread” with his Disciples. And this powerful story still resonates today. Jesus took a single loaf of bread and broke it into pieces. He and his disciples shared the bread, along with stories and personal feelings.
Will connected with his client over some deliciously sharp cheddar cheese. They, too, shared stories and feelings as they ate. Over a feast of sharp cheddar cheese, the two built a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.
Are You “The Big Cheese” with Clients?
If the occasion calls for bold action, are you ready to step up? Will was, and he secured the biggest contract of his career as a result. He demonstrated the power of food when it comes to connecting with people.
The big occasions in life call for big, bold gestures. And things don’t get bigger or bolder than Wisconsin cheddar from The Big Cheese. Insanely sharp, this king of cheeses is always up for the challenge.
Will now loves The Big Cheese cheddar so much he’s made it a shareholder in his business. Or at least he would if he could. And now it’s your turn to dazzle potential clients and customers. After 13 years spent maturing and preparing for greatness, this formidable cheese is ready to become your most effective business partner.