Communication is as Key as the Crust

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives”-Tony Robbins

Recently I had the extraordinary honor to be the best man in my brother Jeff’s wedding.  In true Luther fashion we couldn’t let a life-time milestone pass us by without some pizza.  Jeff and his bride Jaime not only had some amazing wood-fired pizza at the rehearsal dinner, but even surprised everyone with late night Dominos at the reception.  They know how to pizza party.

In preparation for my best man speech I contemplated the qualities of a lasting relationship. As I swept my mind for the characteristics that keep two people together forever, I kept circling back to communication.  Sharing pizza with our loved ones is a no-brainer, but it’s even more important to share our feelings with them as well.

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I’m a proud member of the pizza planning committee.

At Oakfire Pizza in Lake Geneva a long table of family and friends reminisce and enjoy some laughs around an elegant spread of neapolitan style pizzas.  Love is in the air as we excitedly share in anticipation with the bride and groom and some thin chewy pizza.

Little did everyone know that thoughtful planning went into the array of pizzas before them.  My favorite best man duty was working with my brother and Jaime to pick out the pizzas for the rehearsal dinner.  I was delighted and deeply honored that my brother asked me to help finalize the pizza selection

Putting our heads together for the perfect pizza spread.  

We took into account everyone’s likes and dislikes we delivered a feast of pizzas for the whole family.  Of course a classic cheese option was necessary, so we went with a Margherita that consisted of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, pecorino romano and olive oil.  The sauce was vibrant and was a nice contrast with the subtle smoothness of the fresh mozzarella.

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Slice of Margherita

My personal favorite was the Diavola which was basically a pepperoni option that came with soppressata (spicy italian salami), mozzarella, fresh basil and pecorino romano.  The spicy italian salami, had a nice spicy kick and seemed to be a hit at my end of the table.  Another fan fave was the Bosco; a sausage and mushroom pie with mozzarella, fresh basil and pecorino romano.  The sausage was crumbly and savory.

It was a beautiful sight to see our ideas come to life as the pies were plucked out of a big wood-fired oven and served right before our eyes.  We communicated effectively to provide a dinner that would suit everyone’s tastes, we even had a gluten free option. Of course Jeff and Jaime were the stars of the rehearsal dinner, but the pizza we brainstormed up was definitely a highlight.

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The Diavola

Communication is key.  

According to best selling author and speaker Brian Tracy in his book Advanced Selling Strategies “Most of your success in life will depend on your ability to get along well with others, and on the quality of your relationships. Phycologist Sidney Jourard found that 85 percent of a person’s happiness in life comes from happy interactions with other people.”

Several communication practices I’ve adopted that have helped me in my own relationships.  

  1. Listen.  Great communication is more about listening than speaking.  When we actively listen to those around us we become invested in them, and in turn they build trust in us.   Jeff, Jaime and I realized we needed a gluten free option, a cheese option and a pepperoni by taking into account everyones desires.
  2. Keep it simple. We can take note from the Margarita pizza and remember sometimes less is more.  Often a clear cut, concise message is more effective.
  3. It’s all in the delivery. We need to be mindful of the way our message is received.  Our message can be drastically misconstrued by the tone of our voice and the pace of our delivery.  We don’t want to come off harsh, impatient or sarcastic.
  4. Give more than you take.  When we open up to others it should be to benefit one another and compromise. We should accommodate and work to solve problems, so both parties end up happy.

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What pizza taught me:

In a solid relationship communication is key.  Just as important as sharing our pizza, is sharing our thoughts and feelings with the people in our lives.  Congrats Jeff and Jaime!

What I’m eating:  Oakfire Pizza; The Diavola; soppressata (Spicy Italian Salami), mozzarella, fresh basil, pecorino romano

What I’m reading:  TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking Chris Anderson

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The School of Slice

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” -Albert Einstein

Pizza is a lifetime sport and so is learning.  During this time of year I always catch the butterflies of an upcoming fall semester.  I’m years out of school, but I try to stay as hungry for knowledge as I do for new and interesting pizza.

Continually reading, learning and seeking new experiences can be half the fun of life.  By consuming new information I’ve always got new ideas flowing and a fresh pizza perspective.  In the last couple years I have fully realized the power of a good book.

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You are what you read. 

I didn’t always read, actually for the longest time I thought it was really boring outside of a classic fiction novel now and again. By progressively getting more into non-fiction I have taken some pretty cool strides in my personal and professional life.

It’s funny to look back when I was young and I participated in the Pizza Hut “Book It” program through my local library.  The basic concept as I recall, was to read a certain number of books and get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  I don’t know if this brainwashed me, but I read more than ever now and treat myself with pizza.

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“Book It” aside, a lot of very successful people believe regular reading and learning can help us excel.  In an article from Business Insider it was said that Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Warren Buffet, the second wealthiest person in the United States said, “I just sit in my office and read all day”. Tech visionary Elon Musk responded, “I read books” when asked how he learned to build rockets.

Billionaire Mark Cuban (who is said to read 3 hours a day) addresses the importance of continual learning in his book How to Win at the Sport of Business, “The thing you do need to do is learn. Learn accounting. Learn finance.  Learn statistics. Learn as much as you can about business.  Read biographies about businesspeople. You don’t have to focus on one thing, but you have to create a base of knowledge so you are ready when it’s time.”

A Student of Slice.

Making a habit of self-education can seem tedious and boring.  I’ll share ways I’ve found to motivate myself to learn on a daily basis with the help of some delicious pies.

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One slice in front of the other.

“The Clam Pie” at Gates & Brovi in Madison, WI taught me to ease into pushing my pizza envelope.  “The Clam Pie” is basically an awesome cheese pizza that has some clams, fennel and a dash of cream on it. Delicious and an easy first step towards broadening my pizza horizon.

When attempting to get into a book, start by committing to read a page a day.  Usually this will naturally turn into more as the material grabs your attention.  I started with one page a day and now enjoy reading 20 pages a day.

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Listen and learn.

A kind waitress at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Charlotte, NC had the brilliant suggestion that I get a half buffalo chicken, half 4 meat/4 cheese pizza.  She saw that I was torn on what to order and gave a much appreciated recommendation.  I got the best of both worlds because I listened to her.

Many books reference and quote other books and authors.  Once you begin reading, a snowball takes effect as you discover one outlet for information leads to another.

You can also swap the radio for podcasts on your commute.  I enjoy the Tim Ferriss and James Altucher podcasts.  I’ve found many of my favorite books this way.

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Go outside your comfort zone.

At White Pie Pizzeria in Denver, CO I went out of my usual comfort zone and tried the “White Pie” which had a runny egg smack dab in the middle of it.  The pie was truly amazing and I’m very pleased I pushed my usual boundaries.

We can also benefit from exploring reading material outside of our normal interests.  You could start reading a magazine/blog that doesn’t really fit in your normal wheelhouse and stumble upon a subject you really enjoy.  For example I started reading Wired magazine (a technology magazine) and have found all sorts of cool things I never would have been exposed to.

What pizza taught me:

Continually learning and discovering makes life so much more exciting.  If we embrace the student mindset slice by slice, book by book we can become even better versions of ourselves.

What I’m eating:  Gates & Brovi, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, White Pie Pizzeria 

What I’m reading:  How to Win at the Sport of Business -Mark Cuban