How to make minestrone soup and build a successful business


A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Sue, made a huge pot of minestrone soup. It smelled delicious and I couldn’t wait to tuck into a big bowl, when I came back from my trip to Calgary, especially as it was -30 C outside.

As I watched her chopping the ingredients, it made me think about how life really is like a bowl of minestrone.

You have to have your basics, the onions and carrots, zucchini and celery, the potato and pasta. These are the building blocks. They give the soup substance.

Then she adds the tomatoes, their colour really adds a rich vibrancy to the soup. Then the garlic and Italian spices give it identity and the stock fills up the pot and gives volume to the whole thing.

In life, and especially in business, we need to look for the right ingredients, which need to be carefully selected, so that they will work together as a whole.

If you are setting up a business or assessing an existing one and you are looking at the ingredients you need to create or reorganize, in order to have an effective workforce, perhaps you should consider these:

Leadership – The outcome of every meal depends on the cook. They need to be able to decide what it is they want to cook, find the right recipe, select the ingredients, be adaptable if things don’t taste just right and see the process through to the end.

Are you a good leader? Do you set clear, measurable, achievable goals and do you provide the tools your employees need to work efficiently?

Goal – This is when you decide what it is you want to cook, look at the recipe and decide what you need to do to succeed. If all members of your workforce have a common goal, it will make life much easier and you will stand a better chance of success.

Organization – when Sue makes her soup, she gathers together all the ingredients, but doesn’t just throw them all into the pot straight away. Some things need to be sautéed first, then others are added and left to simmer and there are some that are added at the end. You may have the personnel to form the basis of your company, but always be prepared to add to that group, even if it’s on a short-term contract or in the role of consultant.

Collaboration – each ingredient is carefully selected. Too much or too little of any one of them could alter the outcome and not be so desirable. Look for people who can work well together, but also look for people with varying talents. Each of your team should be able to offer particular skills, which will enhance the group.

Commitment – a soup can be allowed to simmer but at some stage you need to know when to turn up the heat. There will be times in business when everyone needs to put in that extra effort and go the extra mile. It may be tough, but when everything comes together, you realize that the result can be oh so satisfying.

Also, don’t forget when all the work is done and it’s time to serve up the finished project, presentation is key.

In Sue’s case, she’ll add a sprinkle of Italian Parsley, grate the Parmesan Cheese to go on top and have some crusty bread warming in the oven.

You need to be able to stand by your project, have all the information you need at hand and be able to convince a client that you are the best.

So, decide what it is you want to cook, allow the time you need to prepare it, have the right ingredients to make it happen and, like Sue’s Minestrone, everything will turn out just fine and you’ll have people coming back for more!

© 2018 Martin Parnell


About Author

Martin Parnell

In 2010, following a 25-year mining career, Martin Parnell started his "Quests for Kids" initiative. Over the next five years he completed 10 "Quests". These included running 250 marathons in one year, setting five Guinness World Records in endurance events and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours. At the end of 2014, he had raised over $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play and 27,000 children had been given the gift of hope. Martin's first book "MARATHON QUEST" was published by Rocky Mountain Books and CBC Radio listed him as one of Alberta's top five authors, for 2014. His second book, "RUNNING TO THE EDGE", was released in November 2016. Through keynotes and workshops, Martin shares his message of having a "Finish the Race Attitude - Setting goals and overcoming obstacles to unlock your potential". He is married to Sue, and has three children and three grandchildren.