Profit: A Rule, Not A Strategy

"your core values are only your values if they cost you something.” - Brian Canlis

The true litmus test of your values—the things you say/believe you’re about—is whether you’re actually willing to sacrifice to maintain them.

I was recently watching an interview with the two brothers who run one of the best restaurants (literally ranked) in the US—Canlis. These two are absolute studs.

They have this amazing countercultural approach to business which is addictive. Their human-first focus and servant leader posture is mind-blowing. I feel like a better person just being aware that they exist. It seems they are constantly pushing themselves and their organization to take the business functions which are historically transactional (waiting table, job interviews, etc.) and make them transformational.

Their philosophy on profit is equally countercultural and is absolutely profound.

Rules to the Game (Not Strategies for Winning)

In business, just like any game, it’s better to pay attention to strategies over rules.

The analogy they like is soccer. In the game of soccer, if you kick the ball out of bounds, someone else gets posession. If you do this too much, you’ll never have the ball and you’ll never win. But, we don’t want to focus on the rule. No one has ever won the World Cup by focusing on not kicking the ball out of bounds.

The Canlis brothers see profit as just a rule to the game. It is not a strategy for winning.

"It’s easy in business to forget and start to believe that what we’re here to do is turn a profit and make money. NO! That is just a rule to the game."

Certainly, if you don’t make money, over the long haul, someone else will get your business or you’ll fizzle out.

Profit is just a rule, but rules don’t make a business great.

Canlis reminds us that focusing too much on rules is to have your attention in the wrong place. But, if you’re going to win you need a strategy. And in Canlis’ case, that strategy is the way they think about people, and who the hero of their story really is [hint: it’s not them]. Canlis’ story is a great reminder and charge to us to live the idea that it’s worth it to put other people first.

When it comes to our values—how we think about ourselves as an organization— it's important we remember to not simply think about it, but actually be about it.


Watch the amazing interview here and get a bit sharper on how adopting their empathetic and hospitable mindset could quite literally revolutionize your business.