The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
February 16 - Stuttgart

Today was a work day. I presented a Germanized version of my program, "How to Prosper in Tough Times" at Intergastra. We probably had 100 people or so in the audience, many listening to simultaneous translation of the program on wireless headsets. The interpretation went much better today as -- with monumental help from Florian -- we were able to translate the key points before the program started to be sure that the translators would convey the proper meaning of what I was trying to say.

English seems to be a much more efficient business language. An idea we can convey in two or three words in English takes many times that number of words in German ... and still the meaning is not exactly the same. I still find simultaneous translation a little difficult to work with. The pacing is slower and it is harder to gauge when to pause. I also found the audience much more reserved than American audiences.

I am sure the ideas I was suggesting to them were even more radical by any sort of local standards. The restaurants we have seen have all had good food and were cleaner than the average, but really had no concept of marketing. It is what Joel Cohen calls "similar restaurants with similar menus, similar service and similar decor serving similar markets at similar prices." It is boring when it happens in the US and once the novelty of ancient buildings wears off, it is boring in Germany as well.

Well however we did it, it worked. The attendees seemed pleased with the program and the sponsor is talking about having me back again. Time will tell, but just the fact that they would entertain the idea is encouraging.

After we got back to the hotel, we went out for a walk down the pedestrian mall, through the edge of the old town and stopped for coffee and pastries at a local cafe. A very civilized way to end a very civilized day!

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