What Would Jose Do?

“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” Groucho Marx

It happens all the time. We hear someone talking “like an idiot”: creating their own reality and acting confident in their ridiculous claims. We may decide to question Groucho’s assessment and give them the benefit of the doubt, but after looking a bit beneath the surface, we usually find that it isn’t an act.

In business a more common scenario is the reverse. People try to present themselves as wonderful leaders and managers. But the wonderfulness is only an act. Behind the act…they’re idiots. How do I know? Their actions speak much louder than their words.

Image and words are easy to fake. Faking actions is much more difficult. So difficult that even a cursory observation of a leader’s actions enables you to determine if they are truly wonderful or not. True leaders, and great managers, are not faking it. Not trying to deceive. Each and every thing they do is consistent with the words they speak and the image they present.

Which leads me to my friend Jose Garces, founder of Garces Group. I’ve had the chance to hang around with him in all kinds of situations. From watching the taping of his Iron Chef shows to participating in his leadership team meetings; from observing him interact with guests and staff in his restaurants to playing golf with him. Just this week, I attended his annual benefit for the Garces Foundation which supports health and education services for the underserved immigrant community.

Sometimes people ask me if Jose is really like what they see on the TV show. Or if the way he treats guests and employees at his restaurants is an act. They find it hard to believe the smiling, humble, caring person he presents to the world is truly who he is.

It is. He is a wonderful leader and wonderful person not just because of his kitchen skills and business acumen but because of his actions. People know they can trust him to say what he means and do what he says. And to listen and treat everyone fairly. He truly cares for his people and wants the best for each and every person he encounters.


The choice is yours. Always align your words, your image, and most importantly, your actions and you have the foundation to be a good leader. Or say the right things and create the right image while acting in ways that negate the words and image and one day you’ll discover that your sobriquet is…idiot.









Commenting area

  1. Great post, Steve. Reminds me of Mark Twain: “He was a Congressman and an idiot. But I repeat myself.”

    In my experience, if someone is truly who Jose is, then aligning actions with words doesn’t take a lot of effort because they’re both coming straight from the heart – a simple reflection of the real you. If it takes work, then the real issue might not be the alignment but rather working on the real you to become more of the person you’d like the world to think you are.

    There you go. Short and sweet. I have to get back to work :-).

  2. Rita Scanio April 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm · · Reply

    Well written, Steve and so on point! Jose’s type of leadership and moral compass is desperately needed at the highest levels of our government. Thank you for such excellent insight.

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