Food and Heart

I’m in Philadelphia for a program orientation. All of the Eisenhower Fellows are here — from all over the world. I’m meeting the most interesting people. People who have started successful companies and non-profits. People currently serving on parliament in their respective countries. Business leaders. Non-profit leaders. Passionate people, engaged in their communities and societies.They come from all walks of life and spoke about success from many angles. That said, at one point in the day a question floated, “Who in this room has never failed?” In the ensuing silence, not a single hand went up. These people have the courage to try. Often, they succeed. Sometimes, they fail.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” ~ General Colin Powell (ret.), Chairman, Eisenhower Board of Trustees

Among these bright people, I met Vincent Ming Shen Lin, a 2013 Eisenhower Fellow from Taiwan (one of the countries I will visit on my fellowship experience). Vincent is the chairman of TransAsia Airways. He is the youngest chairman of a Taiwanese airline, and, using an aggressive growth strategy, he turned the company to profitability in two years.

But this wasn’t the surprising part–especially in that room. Vincent also owns a very popular Taipei bistro Danny and Company, where he and his chef-partner (Danny, Vincent says he is the “Company”) focus on serving premium steaks and U.S. beef is his favorite.

“The main part of the whole meal is the beef. We got the New York Top Cap and the Kobe steak. The beef came with a range of condiments – Jap style vinegary type sauce, relish, thai-style sauce and a chilli mustardy type sauce… The best condiment to these steak bits were really the salt flakes and the teppan-fried garlic. The New York Top Cap was delicious. Tender and super juicy, slightly on the fat side, but it was melt in your mouth yum-ness! ~ from a Danny and Company online review

DannyCo TopCap Steak

New York Top Cap

We had a very animated lunchtime conversation about the use of beta agonists, technology’s role in sustainability and what makes U.S. beef the best. He told me a fascinating history of how Waygu cattle came to Japan from Ishi Gaki in Taiwan, through a gift to the Imperial Court. He showed me a photo like the one above on his iPhone, and explained that they almost always serve steaks in pieces, “so customers can see the quality, the marbling.” (I’d love to see my steak cut when it comes out, to make sure it’s cooked correctly before I try it, if for nothing else.) We talked about barbeque in Taiwan, and beef noodle bowls. (During the beef noodle bowl conversation, Tina, a Fellow from the Industrial Bank of Taiwan, began a friendly, heated debate about where the best beef noodle bowl can be found in Taipei). We talked about Cosco and Lawry’s. In the end, he invited me to supper at his restaurant. What an amazing networking experience on my very first day here.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, learn more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

Thank you, Vincent, for your handshake, your conversation and being a leader. I’m looking forward to sitting down to an excellent steak with you in a few weeks.

“If you really want to make a friend…eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~ Cesar Chavez

Polly EF podium orientation

I was honored to speak at the opening banquet on behalf of the 2013 USA Fellows.



2 thoughts on “Food and Heart

  1. Pingback: Value of Trust | pencilplow

  2. What a wonderful summary of your days in Japan. I also loved the quiet, dignified atmosphere in everyday life and their love of American beef.

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