blog brett johnson business thought leader Aug 27, 2020

When I came to the USA from South Africa in 1986 I had to get used to new colloquial expressions. I remember asking a senior executive how much tailored executive information he received: “A goose egg,” was his reply. I was wondering, “Is that a round zero, is that a golden egg…?” Another expression was “we eat our own dog food” and I remembered when my dad was sworn off meat because of his high blood pressure. My mom went out and dad attacked the remains of a meatloaf that was in the fridge, frying it in copious amounts of butter. When my mom returned she asked, “What happened to the rest of the dog food… it was in the fridge?” Eating your own dog food can be a wonderful thing, and I have been thinking a lot about this during the pandemic.

According to Investopedia, “Eat your own dog food is a colloquial expression that describes a company using its own products or services for its internal operations. The term is believed to have originated with Microsoft in the 1980s, although the terms true origins are debated.” Wikipedia says, “Eating your own dog food, or dogfooding, is the practice of an organization using its own product. This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control, and eventually a kind of testimonial advertising.” 

We recently offered a class on how to reset foundations during this global pause and wide scale reordering of societal bits and pieces. rēStart is a play on words: rest + art: “the art of working from a place of rest.” I didn’t think I would be offering the course twice, but I did have the sense that this class is as much for me as for others. It is now in its second run and week by week I am reconsidering the 50 principles of restart I outlined in Season 1’s podcast. 

The podcasts track Israel’s exodus from Egypt after a 430-year stay. As a first port of call, I long to be on the Israel side of the Red Sea. Second, I don’t want to get stuck in the desert. I want to settle on the right side of the Jordan, unlike some of the tribes. Sadly, it is not a hop, skip and a jump to the Promised Land: it is a journey, and this particular journey starts with the conquest of an army, engages opposition armies on route, and enters the destination to find the enemy did not just roll out the welcome and leave the keys under the mat. They had to “taken out” battle by battle. So, I tell people there are many battles; you will have to fight giants, and you must do so from a place of rest. And I am eating my own dogfood. 

As the ramifications of the global pandemic are still playing out and the next round of opposition surfaces, I am telling myself the same thing I have told others: be courageous, do not lose heart, stay focused on the unshakeable, be flexible with the temporary, don’t be intimidated by the constant stream of negative news, turn off the TV, use difficult circumstances to learn, tighten processes, improve policies, implement procedures. Plan for the long haul: think in generations, shape your own future. Fix our eyes on that which has already been done for us and not what is being done to us. I am dogfooding. Can I hear a woof?