Only Nonna Knows The Secret Recipe To Her Sauce: The Reason Why You Think YOU Need To Do Everything

It’s that time of year again for us food loving Italians with Nonnas (grandmas) still willing to make their special gift to the world, mostly for their family, neighbors..and sometimes even their plumber.

Yup, it’s time to “makea da sauce” (as Nonna would say)!

Nonna's Special Sauce Image by:
Nonna’s Special Sauce
Image by:
This year I’m at my in-laws on this hot summer day, floating around in their pool surrounded by the scent of freshly cut tomatoes that take up most of the area under their patio. Yes, I am in the pool as little ol’ ladies slave away to make the delicious liquid that is a staple of my heritage and survival. They don’t want my help.

They don’t even want my husband’s help, who is an excellent learner, conquering new skills in the kitchen in a way that makes it seem like it’s been second nature to him for years. He’s even equipped with super powered taste buds to boot! But today he is playing the role of food photographer and hovering over the process hoping to document it and get all the dirty details so he can sneak his way inside the next time around.

Every time he mentioned helping with the sauce making process, his grandmother would laugh and say “ha, you don’t-a-know how!”. He definitely doesn’t, not the way that Nonna does it. But of course not, since she never even tried to teach him or share her secrets.

Only Nonna knows how..

Nonna knows which tomatoes make the cut Image by: StefStop
Nonna knows which tomatoes make the cut
Image by: Stefstop
The problem is..his grandmother doesn’t communicate; never showed him the ropes (like the difference between the right tomato and the wrong ones). She never even had him help with the preparation (except where man power was needed like lifting boxes). If she would have shared the secret recipe of her process, he could have stepped in as they were short-handed this summer, and getting tired much easier as the years go by. Every year she collapses harder and harder on her big comfy chair at the end of the night. But she still refuses to let the ‘new guy’ in “’cause nobody does it like Nonna”.

But all she has to do to take him from newbie to part of the inside team is share the tips and tricks (or the ‘secret recipe’ of the process) and it would be just as good as if she did it herself. Except now she just may have some extra energy to celebrate a job well done.

Luckily one of my husband’s aunts, who is one of the head honchos of the sauce making team, was happy to share the information. My husband asked questions, she gave detailed answers and he recorded them furiously. Next thing you know, my kitchen will be filled with new equipment for further experimenting and practice and soon after, he will conquer the sauce making business! Ok..let’s not get crazy. But by the next time around he will surely impress his Nonna with his new skills thanks to his aunt sharing that ‘secret recipe’ of the process, giving them another set of hands to keep Nonna from burning out.

Is your business holding on too tightly to it’s ‘secret recipe’?
Many business owners are very similar. They are reluctant to add a new team member because only the business owner knows how to run their business and a newcomer “don’t-a-know how. The business owner is what makes the business special, like Nonna with her sauce. But that’s usually because they haven’t shared their process with the right people, just like Nonna hasn’t.

Do you ever find yourself similarly over working yourself because you must do it all? …because only you hold that ‘secret recipe’ on how to make your business run exactly how you want it to and how your clients expect it to? Ever catch yourself saying “I’ve got to do it myself” or “no one can do it like I do”?
Here’s a better question, have you ever thought of sharing that ‘secret recipe’ of your unique processes with someone reliable and fitting on your team who will help you run your business more efficiently, your way?

Sharing your ‘secret recipe’
All you have to do is document that ‘secret recipe’, and what makes it up depends on you. It could be anything from the way you greet your clients, to a particular language that you use, or an attitude that you have. If your business is based on your bubbly personality, there are other wonderful bubbly people out there you can train on what else makes your business special and unique.

Sharing doesn’t mean you can’t protect your recipe
Don’t worry too much about sharing that ‘secret recipe’ with others, there are many things you can put in place to assure someone won’t go running off with any of your unique features, your secrets, or even your customers. We have things like non-disclosure agreements or non-compete agreements, that you can easily set in place.

But what about Nonna’s special touch?
Now of course, there are some items that are strictly your Genius, even if someone could do it pretty well, it’s yours. And that’s fine to have some tasks that are strictly yours..but are you labeling most, if not all, of your tasks as your own?
Try to set out things that are truly only for you and your genius and then list what is teachable to the right people. And definitely think about those things that aren’t in your Genius to begin with that someone else might be able to do better, faster, and with a smile on their face.

Are you denying yourself help because only you hold the ‘secret recipe’ to what makes your business unique and thriving?

What tasks are strictly for your Genius? And which can you start teaching others to take over?

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