Uncategorized | January 15, 2013

The Answer to the Question: “When Will You Expand the Velvet Note?”

A Personal Strategic Manifesto, by TK

I still remember the day that McDonalds first offered their fries in a Super Size.  I no longer worried about running out—I had miles and miles of those hot, salty, crispy, savory, potatoes, as many as I could eat.  I downed them greedily—three or four at a time, with the oil and salt dotting my fingers, until they were all gone.  And then an hour or so later, I didn’t feel very good at all.

On my subsequent visits, I would order a ‘super-size’, because they were such a good deal and just to make sure that I had all the fries I wanted, but I would never, ever eat them all.  I got accustomed to throwing away the food I had ordered.

Similarly, in buying my first home, I was so proud to be able to afford 3500 square feet.  I was young, single, a career warrior, and I had just purchased all of the home I could afford.  It was a four-level garage townhome in Columbia, Maryland, in the same neighborhood where Oprah Winfrey had once lived.  The levels went up and up endlessly, floor after floor of space that I had little remaining funds to decorate or furnish.

Looking back on it, it must have looked like the home of a newly-inked NBA star—tons of space, outfitted with little more than a large, flatscreen television and a big ole couch.  Eventually, there were entire rooms that I never used.  They filled with junk and neglected filing—an excavation project that nagged at me until the day that I moved.

But since those days, I have had the wakeup call of the 2009 recession and its lingering aftershocks, and I am no longer a fan of consuming all you can, just because you can.  Like many Americans, I have had to scale my life back to the functional essentials, and use my creativity and imagination to make them extraordinary.  A leaner closet…fewer cars….a smaller residence.  I pay more attention to not wasting anything—food, time, money.

And you know what?  I am much happier and enjoy my life much more.   It’s not an altruistic sacrifice for the sake of a nameless, faceless future generation.  It’s the purposeful utilization of the least amount of resources necessary to achieve our goals, and then the presence of mind to make them extraordinary.  It’s “microintensity”.  And that is how we run The Velvet Note.

The Velvet Note is a 40-seat acoustic living room and restaurant in Alpharetta, Georgia.  And from top to bottom, we are adhering to the philosophy of microintensity.  From the size of the space and stage, to the sound scheme, to the artist configurations we book, to the hours of operation, to the number of people on our staff, to the inventory of fine wines, beers and liquors, to the décor and interior design—everything is specifically orchestrated to deliver you the highest quality experience with the least amount of resources, creatively enhanced to be exceptional.

For example, our menu is design to serve guests only one thing—the perfect bite.  No heavy tri-fold menu, no Styrofoam cartons, no bottomless plates, just the perfect balance of flavors for seasonal offerings leaving you satisfied, but never too full.

So, now that our guests understand and appreciate our mission, they often ask, “When will you be expanding?”  Thank you for indulging me in the long answer to this question.  The short answer is, “When expansion makes us better, not just bigger.”

Some of you might have noticed Steve Jobs’ biography on the shelf at The Velvet Note.  The legendary techo-entrepreneur rose from being fired to creating what is now the world’s most valuable company by adhering to a concept similar to microintensity.  Not one button or surface or function of his technology was wasted or squandered or overlooked or taken for granted.  He enjoyed knowing how things function and how to make them the best they could be.  His power was not in the expanse or the expense.  It was in doing the most with the least amount of waste.  It was elegance brought to life, microintensity at its best.

Steve Jobs was a huge music fan.  Each and every night when we open the show, I think of him and hope that he would have enjoyed the evening.  Here’s my favorite quote:

Your time is limited

Don’t waste it living someone else’s life

Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice

And most important:  have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

-Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011


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