Reputation About the Small Things

Sometimes reputation is not about the big campaigns, the grand philanthropic gestures or CEO thought leadership, but about small, generous acts and other things done really well.

The picture is of Anse Chastanet, a resort in St. Lucia owned by a Canadian. As you can tell, the resort is gorgeous, isolated, quiet, and beautifully situated on the side of a mountain. My wife and I spent a week there a couple of weeks ago.

But this isn't about the resort so much as it is about the executive chef, Ivan Silk who is not only a top notch chef but a remarkably gracious and attentive host.

Let me explain. I have a gluten intolerance (Celiac's Disease) which means I can't eat wheat, rye or barley. Managing meals is tougher than it seems when you travel. Usually I struggle at each meal to explain to waiters the limitations of the intolerance and hope they get it right when passing my order to the kitchen.

Before going to Anse Chastanet my wife sent a short note asking to meet with someone from the kitchen staff at some point early in our stay. I wanted to identify myself in the hope that I would be recognized at meals as requiring some minimal accommodation.

What I got was the kind of attention I presume is the norm for celebrities. Immediately on our arrival, Ivan Silk met with me to express his willingness to do whatever was necessary to ensure I ate well. At each meal, he came to my table and reviewed everything on the menu, offering to make a special sauce to accompany any dish I wanted but couldn't have because of its ingredients.

Under Ivan's guidance, the kitchen staff baked gluten-free bread, made available to me at every meal. For dessert, he prepared a special flourless almond cake or Pavlova. And the day we departed, Ivan came to say goodbye and presented me with a full almond cake "in case you get hungry on the flight home".

The lesson for organizational reputation should be self-evident: Ivan's manners and attentiveness have accrued an enormous amount of equity for Anse Chastanet's reputation account. 

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