Life moves fast, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hum-drum and must-do’s of day-to-day life and forget the bigger picture. I, for one, am guilty of over-complicating things, so today’s Life & Business essay from Marilyn Schlossbach serves as a great reminder of a few, simple rules to live by (and ones that can be easily forgotten).
Marilyn Schlossbach grew up fun-loving and care-free, but when her mother fell ill, her life changed forever. While watching over her mother and how food healed her, her spark for all things culinary was set ablaze. Since then, she’s become the fabulous restaurateur behind four bustling Jersey Shore restaurants, as well as a surf and art gallery. In addition to her success in the food scene, what distinguishes Marilyn is her goodwill and involvement in the community. Since 2008, she’s offered free holiday meals to any and all in need on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter through her restaurant Langosta Lounge, she’s joined nonprofit organization Waves for Water to help bring clean water to villages throughout Nicaragua, she teamed with Interfaith Neighbors, a local non-profit, to spearhead the Kula Café, an on-the-job culinary training program and café and even founded her own non-profit, Food for Thought by the Sea, which offers free surf, yoga, gardening and cooking lessons to local children.
Despite her busy schedule, Marilyn always finds time to slow down and give back. She continues to be an inspiration to many, and today, we’re thrilled to have Marilyn share a personal essay on the three rules that she lives by (and ones we all should). –Sabrina
Unlike those who held onto early dreams of sweet success, I was always the young free spirit whose biggest concern was which beach to trot off to next. I loved surfing, traveling and enjoying the simple life. But when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in my early 20s, the fun came to a screeching halt. Little did I know that it was during those moments, as I watched how food enhanced her health, that I would discover my passion for the culinary arts.
Today, almost three decades and numerous restaurants later, I can say that life as an entrepreneur is not always easy, but it definitely offers its share of rewards! I oversee four bustling restaurants at the Jersey Shore, a surf and art gallery, and lead a staff of more than 150 seasonal employees. At times, days seem to bleed into months. Something always needs to be fixed, and the firing questions can feel endless. But through it all, I’ve developed an irreplaceable community that is like family. I’ve been able to give back in ways that I never could have imagined and have earned trusting relationships with key industry leaders. My husband and I have two beautiful three-year-old twin daughters. Right now, I’m also looking forward to the launch of my first cookbook!
Between family and work, “How do you do it all?” is a question I hear frequently. There are three rules that I live by:
Surround yourself with passionate people
Take note of the positive energy put forth by others. Often, when I’m feeling overworked or underwhelmed, I look to the passion of others for inspiration. It can be seen in the single mother who works two jobs, the neighborhood yoga instructor struggling to make it, or in the local philanthropist who never gets sick of fighting the good fight. There’s inspiration in each of their endeavors. Be mindful of it, and work just as hard.
Similarly, stock your staff with people who are just as passionate as you. Ask interview questions that not only reveal a candidate’s skill level, but a bit about their personality. We frequently ask our applicants who their ultimate dinner guest would be, what motivates them, and what community project they most likely would be willing to volunteer. Such questions provide valuable insight into what makes each prospective tick before we invest time in their future with the company.
Nourish your community
I’ve always believed that when you give back to your community, they give back to you. Find a nonprofit in your area that you believe in and set up a meeting to discuss ways to forge a working relationship. I’ve worked with non-profit organizations Clean Ocean Action, Waves for Water, Interfaith Neighbors, Surfrider Foundation, and countless others, and also have spearheaded a nonprofit, Food for Thought by the Sea.
Through our nonprofit, we offer free community dinners to those in need on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and also provide free surf, cooking and yoga lessons to community youth. Although this might sound like a big commitment, each of these events and partnerships aligns with my personal interests and rarely feels like added work. In the end, my restaurants, staff and I are always rewarded with more than we give.
Have an industry role model as well as few local mentors
Knowing who you want to be like is a great away to keep your efforts aligned with your long-term goal. But having people who can help get you there is just as important. As a restaurateur who advocates for the environment, I’ve always looked to Alice Waters as a source of inspiration. However, to help get me there, I’ve made it a priority to build relationships with powerful females who live locally. (Shout out to Cindy Zipf at Clean Ocean Action and Catherine Murphy at Waves for Water!). Although not all restaurateurs, these women have taught me invaluable life and business lessons. They’ve shown me how to balance work, family and community endeavors, and have taught me that it’s possible to be both a nurturer AND successful business woman. Find your aspiration, a few good role models and always remember to think holistically – for yourself, community and environment. Success will find you!