Food for Thought

Sometimes I wish Facebook had stopped “innovating” ten years ago because the basic features of social media are quite valuable for us. I’ve completely lost touch with many people I met in my life before social media. Those I met after, I have kept in touch with, or at least I can contact them if I want to.

I hadn’t spoken to @greggalel in years. This week, he suddenly followed me on Instagram, and we immediately made a plan to meet and catch up in his neighborhood, Williamsburg. He picked Llama Inn, a high-end Peruvian restaurant.

Thirteen years ago, I worked on branding his first venture for Belgian waffles. That was the first time I was introduced to yeast-based waffles. I fell in love with them, so I had to figure out how to make them myself at home. I still use the same recipe.

Greg was born an entrepreneur. After college, the idea of getting a job did not occur to him. Even though he had never tried, he knew he could not take orders from anyone, he told me. You would have to know yourself very well to make such a call at that age because the corporate job market is not very forgiving once you deviate from their track. It means he was confident enough to eliminate the corporate track from his future from the start.

Immediately after college, I would have never even dreamed of starting my own business. I didn’t know the first thing about the real world; I had to learn it on the job, especially since I was a foreigner. But Greg is a foreigner too, from Belgium. I’m not sure where his confidence comes from; I wish I had some of that.

His first waffle store on East 14th Street did not work out, but he has since built a successful wholesale business, @belgianboys, selling a variety of Belgian sweets. They are available now at Walmart, and I will soon be able to buy them at Target near me.

Ironically and sweetly, the man who knew, at 20, he couldn’t take orders from anyone is now taking orders from his wife, who is the CEO. It tells me something about what true confidence is. I’m not sure if he even knows he looks confident, which leads me to believe that it’s not something you need to know or try to be; all it takes is to know yourself well.