An army marches on its stomach”Napoleon

So you think stocking the company refrigerator is as easy biting into a scrumptious apple pie? Try it sometime. You may end up biting off more than you can chew.

For a company to cut the mustard, it’s important that its employees are fed well. Tastes vary across a given group of people and you have to cater to each individual’s preference. The upside is that you end up learning things that have wider implications.

Here are three lessons on life, work and more, gleaned from my time as Compile’s refrigerator czar.

1. Data, data and more data

How do I decide on what to stock? Piece of cake — I look at what gets over the fastest. In summer, the juice disappears sooner than I can replace it, so I know I have to beef up the stock.

Now metrics may not be your cup of tea, but it’s critical to not just record data, but review and make sense of it on a continuous basis. Not all metrics are as easy to calculate (and eye-popping) as the rate of disappearance of pineapple cake, but trust me when I say this: you’ll be in a soup if you don’t track data and act on it.

2. Listen to your customer

The other day a colleague and I were chatting about the weather and he lets drop that his girlfriend wasn’t particularly pleased with his developing potbelly. Now normally I would promptly dismiss this with a mild concern for the poor chap, but this time around I knew I had to act. I couldn’t trust the guy to eat like a bird, so I decreased the stock of junk and stocked up on the cucumber and Green Tea.

While you’re having your three-martini-lunch, don’t forget to listen closely to what the customer is saying. There’s bound to be some food for thought there. Read between the lines and in the long run it’ll help you bring home the bacon.

3. Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid

When I started out, I made the mistake of stocking up only on food I liked. So everyone ended up consuming the stuff I liked — which of course meant less of it for me. This wouldn’t do! So I embraced the fact that different people have different tastes and catering to varied tastes was necessary for my (horizontal) growth.

Too often companies drink their own Kool-Aid and choose to live in a bubble. This results in missed opportunities and blindness to customer feedback. Try Orangina for a change.

Growing up, my dad taught me to find wisdom in the unlikeliest of places. It’s not easy, finding patterns and making associations between disparate entities. An analysis of this sort requires a lot of hard work and experience, but it’s fun.

So this is what I do at Compile and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Except maybe a Tiramisu, with nice sweet cream on top and a soft mushy cake. Some fresh yummy strawberries added and set at just the right temperature.

Bon Appétit !

Image Credits ‘Wine Cheese and Good Times’ by Leyla