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The Journey

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “What do you like the most about working at Island Creek?” Fair question, right? Maybe it’s the copious quantities of oysters, maybe it’s the amazing people here, or the amazing chefs we work with.  My answer every time is that no two days are ever the same; that is what I love the most about my life at Island Creek. Take today, for example: Wine Spectator is here shooting pictures of the farm, I’m writing this blog, I’m reviewing our accounts receivable report, and this afternoon I’ll check in to see the progress on our new hatchery. Beyond the varied tasks, my other most favorite aspects of life at Island Creek has been that of a manager. I’m 27, started here when I was 22 – management wasn’t something I knew a whole lot about. I still don’t know a lot about it, but one thing I do know is I love working with people, I love helping people to grow, and I love watching the team of Island Creek come together to accomplish amazing things.

As Island Creek has grown beyond the farm to a wholesale company, restaurant, and Foundation, instilling in our ever-growing “family” a culture of hospitality and goodwill has become one of the most important things we work on everyday. Like most things at Island Creek its been a collective endeavor. We have come to call it Goodwill Hunting.  We meet every other Friday to discuss topics from communication, to trust, to assuming the best. Its been an incredibly empowering exercise for the Island Creek team, unlocking things in each one of us we didn’t know we possessed.

Last weekend, we opened the door on Goodwill Hunting and invited a group of friends from around the city to listen to some of the most respected minds in service and business talk about the importance of cultural hospitality. I was fortunate enough to moderate a panel that included Anthony Rudolf of Thomas Keller’s restaurant group, Andrea Czacher of Danny Meyer’s Maialino, Andrew Holden of Eastern Standard, and Mark McWeeny of Rue La La.

Many amazing ideas were exchanged, each panelist drawing on their deep and varied experiences to show why hospitality in business is fundamentally important. I’m still digging through my notes and takeaways, but to me the idea that a room full of people can get together and talk about the value of saying thank you makes me believe that choosing a course of goodwill and empathy is a paramount decision for businesses that are looking to succeed in the long run. There are already a number of quality organizations putting this notion to good use–it is a movement that holds tremendous power, and I believe that we are just scratching the surface.  In such a fast paced world, we often forget to put others first, but what I’ve learned through our meetings and the Goodwill Summit is that amazing things can come from doing just that..

Both collectively and individually, we have a long way to go. As business people and human beings we aren’t perfect. Not even close. In many situations we don’t have control over mistakes or shortfalls, but we do have control over the approach we take and the care we give to fixing those mistakes and improving those shortfalls. The fun part about Goodwill Hunting is it’s a journey. It will likely never end, but along the way, ideas will be exchanged, lessons will be learned, and Island Creek will continue to strive to not only grow great oysters, but be better citizens of this big, diverse world.

Untitled from Island Creek Oyster Bar on Vimeo.

I’ll keep you posted on how the journey progresses.

-Shore Gregory is the EVP of Island Creek Oysters and knows his way around a Ripstik.

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