Creating Social Value Blog / Food

Gail Simmons: Babson’s Newest Entrepreneur in Residence

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It’s been a week since Gail Simmons was here at Babson as our newest Entrepreneur in Residence. Ample time to digest, and yet I’ve found it hard to identify the ingredients that made her visit so remarkable.

Babson professor Candida Brush wrote on Gail in Forbes the day following – and Gail Simmons has a Recipe for Career Success has been going viral ever since. Candida wrote:

“She started with what was important to her – she liked to eat, cook, travel and write. Logically, these four ingredients do not add up to a particular career or job title. Instead of following the traditional approach, she decided to learn the foundational elements of each of these activities.”

Gail knew what she wanted and went after it – a relevant tagline for many entrepreneurs. But many entrepreneurs are also hyper impatient (I often hear: “Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve got ADD”).

Gail brought energy, determination, conviction, and commitment to each task, but also pacing. From her stories, it seems she follows the logic: Ask questions first and shoot later.

On her Facebook chat the week prior, Gail answered an undergraduate’s inquiry about the imperative of attending culinary school with this (excerpted in Grub Street Boston the next day):

You do not HAVE to go to culinary school to be respected in the industry… All you need is the drive to work hard and then to find a place where you can grow, start at the bottom and be willing to put in the time required to learn everything needed to really become an expert in your craft… Wash dishes if you have to. Read, test recipes, and find mentors in your field who can teach you the relevant skills. Culinary school can definitely help give you a fast track in this department. But it can be expensive and time consuming. Either way, once you graduate, you are not automatically a top chef. You still need practical skills that can only be acquired by DOING.

Gail did her dishes, toiling at the end of the line for two top chefs. She worked incredibly hard and diligently along an uncertain career track – one that she defined – so as to practice and perfect her crafts.

Her food journey hinges on the hands-on, which makes her a perfect pairing with a college humming with action-learners. Gail told the students dining with her Tuesday evening, “I am really happy to share what I can. I’m also here to learn, and I’ve learned so much from all of you today.”

After seeing the Forbes piece, fellow Babson food Entrepreneur in Residence Andrew Zimmern shared the link with the tweet:

@gailsimmons is awesome. And you only know a few of the 100 reasons why. Here’s another: @babson

I’d like the see the rest of that list.

Gail and the Food Sol team are chewing on the idea of a future Quick Service Incubator where current food professionals get a turn to pitch their business challenges to Babson students for advice and feedback. Stay tuned.