Archive for April, 2011

Yesterday we asked people on the facebook page to send in suggestions for things they’d want us to talk about in the blog. Our girl Gina posted the age old interview question “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” While trying to figure out what to talk about via gchat we ended up summing it up better than any blog post could so here it is the entire discussion in it’s entirety:
2:22 PM Trevor: alright
  blog topic
  where are we going to be in 5 years..posted by gina on the fanpage
2:23 PM Daniel: interesting
 2:24 PM Trevor: we’re putting this whole thread up so don’t say anything stupid
2:25 PM Shaan: haha – I think that we’ll either be in a position where sabi doesn’t work, and we lived a crazy life for a couple of years working on it….or we actually pull this thing off
  I can’t predict which one it’ll be, but I’m cool either way
2:26 PM Daniel: I’m hoping by then we have a few Sabi’s up and running, and we are in the position of coming up with awesome additions to the concept – making sure it never becomes another stale restaurant once we’re not working in it
2:27 PM Daniel: assuming we can pull it off – the hardest part is going to be to find passionate people to grow the brand
2:28 PM Trevor: man i think it’s going to work …people are going to love it! i’m thinking that in 5 years we will have thought of something…some game changing shit that people will copy…like the first guy to use digital menus..or the first drive through
  i think because we have no restaurant experience
  we’re looking at it from a totally new point of view
  and something we come up with is going to be big
  and i want them to all copy it
  and i want it to be known we were the first
2:29 PM Shaan: 5 years is a long time…just think of how much we’ve learned over the past 6 months doing this
looking back on it, we were idiots
  and I’m sure 6 months from now..we’ll say the same thing
 2:30 PM Daniel: yeah, i’m sure what we think is right now is about 200% wrong
2:31 PM Shaan: but that means that in 5 years – we’re going to know all the little shit that we’re learning the hard way right now (leasing, operations, legal, accounting etc..)
 2:31 PM Trevor: i dont think that everything we think is wrong
 Shaan: and we can focus on the things that are going to make Sabi special once we know the basics
 2:31 PM Daniel: yeah, once the store is open the things we can only guess about now will be WAY easier
 me: i think we just figure out better ways to do things..and what we can pull off and what we cant
2:32 PM Shaan: I just hope we’re not weird, bitter, cynical dudes in 5 years
 Daniel: weird restaurant industry people
  let’s not become them
 Shaan: I prefer having hope and belief in ourselves
 Trevor: hahaha dan is going to be a weathered old sailor
 Daniel: hahaha
2:33 PM Trevor: yeah man you’re right
  a lot of people talk about having the energy and passion now
  and thats easy
  the idea is young
  we’re young
  but the key is to still have that edge down the line
2:34 PM Daniel: working in the restaurant day in and day out will wear us down…but we have to remember the passion we had when we started it
  I think that’s where a lot of concepts have lost focus
2:35 PM Shaan: that’s why i like that our mantra is do what you do
  because when you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t wear you energizes you
 every single morning, I want to wakeup, loving my life
 Trevor: how could you not love waking up each morning and thinking…how can i make MY project kill it today
  having something that is yours is so huge
2:36 PM Shaan: thats what she said.
 Trevor: hahahaha
2:37 PM Trevor: i think this
  its almost impossible to predict where we are going to be in 5 years
  but something we can control is how we think and approach things
  and we can all agree the key is to still have our edge
  the hunger
  and the commitment to endless creativity
  that we talked about in the manifesto
  if we have that
  the rest will take of itself.
2:38 PM Daniel: yeah, and like shaan was saying before – even if it didn’t work out, I’m sure it will have been some of the best 5 yrs of our lives
2:39 PM Shaan: that’s true
  and if all else fails
  we’re really good at giving ourselves pep talks
  so that’s a plus
  Shaan: haha seriously tho – this is the key
  I can’t see steve ells or the guys from noodles sitting aroung on G-chat
  bullshitting about their life 5 yrs from now
2:41 PM Trevor: you’re completely right
  having the damn vision always at the forefront ..not being scared to tell people about it
  not being scared to say that is our goal
  and just going for it
2:42 PM Shaan: exactly.
  so in conclusion
  5 years from now…we have no idea what’s going to happen
  but lets do it
  lets do it our way
  and we’ll have no regrets
2:43 PM Trevor: there you go Gina..thanks for the suggestion!
 if you guys have any more ideas send them in!

A letter to all the scrappers

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Dear Scrapper,

You are the reason that things work. You make shit happen. People fear you because a scrapper cannot be defeated. You are everywhere. You can be found in office buildings and schools, on teams, on stage at open mic night or painting masterpieces in your garage. You might never get the glory or recognition that you deserve, but you keep busting your ass and because of that you will always be great. I see you and respect the hell out of you. Stay hungry and keep doing what you do.



Disclaimer – the contents of this blog post may or may not be suitable for children under the age of 13, and pregnant women. Also note that the thoughts written and expressed in this blog do not reflect the views of Sabi Sushi….well actually, I suppose they do. Just don’t get mad…and don’t sue us.


Sorry to my PG readers out there, but I had to make a point. As we’ve gone along our journey from innocent Duke University students to hardened businessmen (yea, right.) – we’ve noticed a trick that only the craftiest of business veterans use: The First-to-Curse Advantage.

In business school they teach you about the “first-mover-advantage” (not that any of us went to business school) and entrepreneurs will shout to investors that they are positioned to win because they are ‘first-to-market’ – but silly MBAs, all you really need is the First-to-Curse Advantage.

This is a trick we learned by observation, that in our best meetings – the ones where two hours fly by, jokes are made, deals are struck, and checks are written – all hinge upon a turning point: a curse word.

We noticed that CEOs, bankers, VCs, lawyers, brokers, professors etc… you name it – the most influential people we’ve met were using this technique, meeting after meeting, until we finally caught on and noticed what was happening.

You see, a cuss word changes the entire dynamic of the meeting. What was once a formal meeting between recent strangers, transforms into an honest conversation amongst soon-to-be friends. A cuss word communicates hey, I’m not perfect, and I’m just being myself here – so you can trust what I have to say. If you’re a salesman (and no matter what job you have, you’re always a part-time salesman of your services) once you have trust, you have a commission.

You’ll notice that within minutes of the first cuss word being uttered by one party, the other party will subconsciously let one out to reciprocate this level of trust and familiarity between the two. Happens everytime.

A simple cuss word can lighten the mood, and convey a lot about your personal and corporate brand. Brands with an edge can position themselves strongly in the market, and make their competitors look stiff in comparison: Dell vs. Apple? Pepsi vs. Redbull? Tiffany & Co. vs. Victoria’s Secret? All fight for similar demographics, but use the power of pushing-the-envelope to demonstrate that their brand is cooler than the competition.

If your brand is going to be good at it.

You can position your personal and corporate brand by daring to overstep social norms during a meeting. Obviously, if you overdue it, you’re just crude.  However, if you time it right – it can be a powerful way to change the dynamic of the meeting.

Two options:

1. “He said it, not me!” – if you’re unsure whether it’s okay to crack the cursing barrier, try this technique. Insert a cuss word into a story, but as if the other person in the story said it TO you. Trevor did this masterfully in our last meeting, where he told a story about his first time ever rolling a sushi roll at Phillip’s restaurant while he was training:

“I was really nervous, and I thought Phillip was walking over to coach/teach/help me with my technique…instead, he slammed a shot of tequila on my cutting-board and said ‘take this baby and roll me a  f*&king roll!

This way, you can’t really be judged too harshly for saying it, since you’re just quoting someone else! Read the reaction of the other person, and move on accordingly.

2. “I’m talking about the past – don’t judge me now” – We often meet with folks much older than us (unavoidable, we’re only 22yrs old) – and they’ll pull off profanity while talking about life back in their college days. (note: this is usually an unsuccessful technique for us, because we have no reason to cuss while talking about our glory days at elementary school recess)

Overall, the First-to-Curse Advantage must be handled with great caution. Don’t be classless and start dropping F-Bombs before the time is right. As you become more attuned to the ebbs-n-flows of a meeting, you’ll find that it can really be a game changer.

Like I said in Part I – being able to have a great meeting is all about how quickly you can break down the formal barriers and rigid constructs that we all have when we meet strangers, especially in the serious name of ‘business’. Remember, you’re working with people, not job titles, not signed documents, people – so you must find a way to connect with people to be successful.

In all seriousness, thanks for reading the blog – now leave me a comment (click the speech bubble on the top right of the blog) you a%$holes.


In the restaurant industry, we have a saying – “location. location. location.”  This mantra applies to meetings too, but I see it constantly being done incorrectly.

Now before I tell you why you should NEVER have a meeting in a coffee shop, we should layout and agree on the makings of a great meeting.

  • Comfort – Unlike a negotiation (in which you often want the other party to feel uncomfortable in their surroundings) both parties need to be relaxed and not worried about what to do, where to sit, how loud to speak etc.. before you can talk business.
  • Shoelace Theory – ‘not too long, not too short’ – you don’t want the meeting to drag on forever, or to be so short that you rush through topics.
  • Don’t be an acquaintance- “it’s great to meet you! fantastic! that’s so interesting! goodluck!” then you trade business cards and walk away, leaving no lasting impression. The goal is to go beyond that fluff and talk about some real shit – that’s when real connections are made.

Now, onto the reasons why a coffeeshop is the worst place to have a meeting.

1. Hipsters – There’s nothing worse than having a beret-wearing, macbook pro using, tall triple expresso shot drinking hipster glaring at you because you’re talking is interrupting his zen focus on the ‘book-that-I’ve-been-working-on-for-over-a-year’.*  You need to be able to laugh, tell stories, and express yourself when you meet someone – and coffee shop hipsters can really be a buzzkill.

classic hipster glare.

2. Can’t sip forever – Coffeeshop meetings have no structure. If you’re early, you can either lurk around, or grab a coffee and sit down (causing a ‘Where’s Waldo’ situation if you don’t know what each other look like). Once you have your coffee, you sit down and are never interupted again. That means it’s 1 on 1 for the rest of the meeting, and neither of you know when it should end. This leaves you with one option, pulling the “I’m really busy and important, so I’ve got to run now” ending to the meeting. Not a good look.

3. No Alcohol – There’s no beating around the bush here, booze is a great form of social lube, and getting hammered together can be a great bonding experience. In fact, we went from being in awe of Phillip the Food Network Chef to really believing he would teach and work with three 21-year olds over a couple of bottles of sake on the first night we met.

4. Logistics – Everyone and their mom loves Starbucks. That’s why you’ll never find a seat. Once you get to the coffee shop and there’s no seats, you’re shit outta luck. Nobody gets up. Ever. Now the meeting is off to a terrible start, and all because you picked the wrong location. Or you’ll end up in one of the ‘alternative’ seats, on a couch (silly), or on bar stools facing the window. Turrible, just turrible as Charles Barkley would say.  If you meet at a bar or restaurant, they seat you, they bring your food and drinks to you, and they bring you the bill when its time to leave. Let the restaurant staff handle the logistics of the meeting – you focus on what you’re going to say.

Basically – the formula for a great meeting isn’t much different than the formula for a great first date. You don’t want to go somewhere that you’ll barely be able to talk (ie. going to see a movie), you don’t want to look like a scrub (ie. trying too hard and taking a girl to a fine french restaurant, and ordering a Cabernet (pronouncing it cab-er-NET) and making a special request for the 2009 version “because its newer”), and you need to be able to connect personally over stories and get to know each other as people first, business partners later.

In the end, its all about breaking down barriers. Get them in a place where they are comfortable enough to open up and be themselves. Remember that everything you do says something about you, not just the words spoken during the meeting. Pick an interesting place in the city if you want to be seen as interesting. Drink if you want to show your fun side. Go to a place where the entire waitstaff knows your name if you want to show you’re status in the community. You can show many different facets of your knowledge/experience just by your choice of location – don’t follow the social norm and pick a local coffeeshop if that’s not the best fit for the meeting.

That’s it for part I of The Art of Meetings – Look out for part II on Monday – about a trick that we’ve learned from some of the best businessmen in the world – Being the First to Cuss.

– Shaan

*Note – If you do encounter said hipsters – follow my man Stewie’s approach to asking about their progress:

The art of meetings

Posted: April 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Official Sabi policy states: there are no bad meetings. We believe the more we talk and the more people we meet the better chance we have to succeed. We’ve met with University Presidents, guys who have started the greatest restaurant chains in the world, marketing experts, hedge fund investors, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. The list could seriously go on forever. I just looked through our old Google Calender and our meeting count hit 312 as of today. 312 times we’ve had to sit in a room with someone who didn’t really know who the hell we were and make them believe in what we are trying to do.

We’ve found that meetings are like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same. But, we’ve picked up on some things throughout our experiences that can either lead to high fives and heel clicks in the parking lot, or excruciating hours of awkwardness and palm sweating. So, here goes ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our latest blog series “The art of meetings.”

Tomorrow morning Shaan will start things off with his post about why coffee shops might be the worst place to ever have a meeting. This weekend I’ll back at the helm bringing you my insight about why being the first to cuss is essential in meetings. Talk to you guys then.