Category Archives: Inspiration

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: The Art of Perfection

perfection-kanpeki-in-JapaneseThe documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi is fascinating. Some important lessons for making optimisations in life which can also be applied to personal finance can be learned from the life and work of Jiro Ono who is featured in the film. It was directed by David Gelb, released in 2011 and is currently available on Netflix.

Jiro Ono is the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant located Tokyo’s Ginza district. With an award of 3 Michelin stars, the restaurant is regarded as exceptional and worth visiting. I found this fascinating as the restaurant only has ten seats and the food served there appears to be very simple at first glance. Even the restrooms are located outside the premises. Twenty courses per person are served per meal at $300 or 30,000 Yen and you need to book several weeks in advance to dine here.

Jiro Ono and team preparing sushi

Jiro Ono and team preparing sushi

A key theme which I have taken away from the film is the art of perfection. By making an effort and repeating the same work everyday, the techniques applied at the restaurant become perfect. Jiro ensures this from the start by sourcing only the freshest ingredients from the best and trusted suppliers, be it rice, octopus or tuna.

Another top theme to learn from Jiro is simplicity. The key requirement is that the food has to always taste good. Simplicity removes a lot of clutter, enabling you to focus on what really matters. With fewer distraction and complexity, it is easier to achieve perfection within an area that you specialise in.

Consistency is a key attribute that top chefs need to have. This will ensure that they always perform at the highest levels. Striving for this requires constant measurement of progress and self criticism to allow for improvements to be made. The menu’s order and timing are also critical. At Sukiyabashi Jiro the food is served like a concerto. Kohada, Tuna and other classic items are presented first followed by fresh catches of the day and then the traditional finale of seal eel, kanpyo and egg. No starters here.

Jiro also exhibits a high attention to detail, particularly when treating the customers. He takes note of details like which members of a party are right or left handed, seating arrangements, gender, their previous experience at the venue and how far they need to be seated from a different party.

I have noticed a lot of parallels between the above lessons and getting the most out of investing. Like Jiro who has continued to run the restaurant for many decades, It is important to think like a leader. This does not necessarily mean leading other people but to take charge of your personal finances because no-one else is best placed to.

I have come across people in the workplace who assume that someone else is looking after their pensions, do not even access their accounts and have little or no knowledge of what funds their invested in. This can be detrimental as the funds used typically cater for everyone; whether you are 20 or 50. It is like trusting your insurance or energy company to put you on the best deal when your contract renews. This never happens so it is crucial to keep on top of these matters.

Simplicity and consistency are other key attribute of a good investor. A simple portfolio with few funds is very easy to set up these days. You can even own parts of the best businesses in the world by investing in low cost all in one funds like those from the Vanguard Strategy range. By setting up a monthly plan to purchase the shares you can apply the superpower of consistency. Along the way you can measure progress against objectives, making adjustments where necessary.

The final attribute is to pay attention to the important details. In investing, the most important details are to achieve the lowest costs and large diversification. This can be done by investing in low cost index funds which track the whole stock market. It is like choosing to use only the finest ingredients for a meal. The result can only be as good as what you put in it.

It is always interesting to learn from the masters of their art, no matter which discipline it is. Lessons in perfection and self improvement are often very transferable to different areas of life as shown in this excellent documentary film. The film also includes impressive interviews, commentary and cinematography making it worth watching.

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