June 26, 2014

One man's journey...and my pledge to No Kid Hungry...

Hello My friends,

Been a long time since I wrote regularly here at Kitchen Rap, but that is about to change. For those who may not know or be aware, on May 19th, 2014, I suffered a massive heart attack, went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated back to life. Yea I know right? Pretty scary. Pretty severe. As per my usual life and the way it has been for the past 50 years, I seem to do things on a grand scale. The doctors are actually baffled...they say I shouldn't be alive.

You see, seems after suffering a 4 hour heart attack that would have killed anyone else permanently, I am still here, defying the norm, the rules and the odds. For those who have known me for any length of time, this will not come as a surprise. I never, EVER do what's expected. Here, I suffered a major, 100% blockage in my heart in the worst possible place it could occur, a place I now know is called (cue music:.Duhn Duhn Duhhhhh!!) THE WIDOWMAKER (echo here) maker maker, maker maker... the left anterior descending artery.

What baffles the doctors is that they have rarely, if ever, seen someone survive this much damage to the heart, over 70%, in this location. Until now.

The doctors did surgery, placing a stent into my heart, unblocking the flow and I spent 5 days in Intensive Care. I now take 8 pills a day from blood thinners to anti angina medication to, well you name the heart medication, seems I'm taking it. The doctors words, "if you don't take your meds you will die" ring in my ears every glorious morning I wake up. They told me no stress. Bed rest and eventually sent me home to do nothing and recuperate.

So what did I do? Yup, you are starting to get me...I did the complete opposite. Just days out of the hospital, I helped coordinate and lead (via Support Vehicle) a group of cyclists from the NYC to DC for the #ChefsRide4NKH, a 3 day, 300 mile bicycle ride, with lead rider Chef Jason Roberts and helped raise $23,000 to help in the fight against childhood hunger. I then promptly had another episode of angina and went back to the hospital where they did another angioplasty and found more damage and blockages. This time the doctor said, "I don't think you're getting this Mr. Luzzo, you have 30% heart function as compared to the normal heart. You need complete rest and relaxation and it will take years to heal, if ever. I can't explain why you're still alive, but you need to take this seriously if you want to STAY ALIVE!'

I had been spending days, actually, taking this very seriously and thinking about my life and this supposed 'second chance'; the special things I have done and accomplished, the public awareness of me, the special chefs and celebrities I know, some of whom I am blessed to call friend. I wondered, "Why did I survive? Why Am I alive?" And I knew  the answer immediately . So, when the Doc made that statement above, I answered without hesitation. "I'm still here because of two people: Deb and Billy Shore, founders of Share Our Strength and a special organization they run called No Kid Hungry. I believe that I'm am supposed to help be a voice for this cause here in America and that's why I'm alive."

For those not aware, this year over 45 million people in America will be food deficient at some point and over 16 million of those who are going hungry are children. With their Cooking Matters, School BreakfastDine OutTaste of the NationBake SaleNo Kid Hungry This Summer programs and proper nutrition initiatives, No Kid Hungry is committed to making sure that our children get the food they need to grow, be healthy and lead productive lives.

So my friends, let's get to the important part of this blog post. I recently took the No Kid Hungry Pledge and have committed to being a part of the No Kid Hungry Team! I also committed to being a No Kid Hungry Blogger, doing what I can to be a beacon, a voice, helping to get the message out. I am asking you all, especially during this current pledge drive to do the same.

If you are a blogger, writer or journalist who has a public voice I am asking you to use your voice and join me and this worthwhile organization and help us eradicate childhood hunger in our lifetime. To find out how to become a No Kid Hungry Blogger, just go to this link; BECOME A NO KID HUNGRY BLOGGER, answer a few questions and get the details on how you can help.

For the rest of you , I am asking you to step up with me, take the No Kid Hungry Pledge, join the fight against childhood hunger and do whatever it is you can to help. Whether you simply donate, or hold a bake sale, or have a barbecue, is no matter. What does matter is that you do something, because together, we can make sure that we leave No Kid Hungry!

All the best and thank you,


August 17, 2013

An Open Letter to Hiring Managers, Recruiters and Human Resource Managers

Today's thought is to all the hiring managers, human resource folks, recruiters and those looking to add quality team members to their current adventure.

Many firms, you know who you are, have been searching to fill positions for months and months, looking for the perfect storm, that perfect person that meets all the criteria set forth in the job requirements. The fact that these jobs remain unfilled may not be a sign that that person hasn't applied yet, or that you just haven't found that one individual who will enter in walking on water, espousing every nuance, skill set, trait and background you set forth in your requirements. If you have been searching for over 4-6 months to fill a position, chances are the right person presented themselves to you, and you missed them. Now don't take offense and miss the rest of the message. Your job is not to be right, it's to be correct. We all have two ears and one mouth by design; to listen twice as much as we talk. If your task list doesn't end with the question, "What did I miss?" it's time to add that little gem at the end of each project, to do list or requirement list.

If you have been searching for months, have you asked 'yourself,' "Why haven't I found the 'messiah' of my job search?" It may be because requirements an expectations you have set for your company in its search for new people to add to the team are unrealistic and actually caused you to miss the 'diamond in the rough' because you were expecting a square peg to fit your pre-conceived square hole and when the right person for the job walked in, since they were round, you never saw them, heard their message, or realized the positive impact they could have on your organization. It may also be that your companies hiring practices and procedure are outdated and need to be reviewed and updated to today's ever changing environment.

A perfect example is Steve Jobs; he and Apple changed the world, but his company, putting rules, corporate procedure ahead of performance and results, tried to get it done without him, almost preventing him and themselves the chance to do that because 'he didn't fit the pre-conceived mold.'
He is quoted as saying, "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius."

 There are many who have much to offer, but no opportunity to offer it. Were we to pay a bit more attention, looking out instead of in, we'd see many who have great things and talents to offer, but simply lack the opportunity to present their skills and gifts to the world and make an impact. The greatest thing you can do is to give someone the opportunity to shine. Never judge a book by its cover, never conclude without the facts, and never be certain in your judgment and assessment of what someone can accomplish or offer until you take the time, understanding and opportunity to allow them to contribute.

In order to find the diamond in the rough, one must take the time to examine, search, brush away the dust of their own, preconceived notions of what will work and what won't and be willing to be wrong in their assumptions and see the brilliant gem beneath.

I have found throughout the years that when I gave folks an opportunity to shine, hiring someone of character, heart, desire and passion, even if they were 'not as qualified' in skill set, I gained an employee who far outperformed those with the skill set, but not the heart, passion or character.
Skills and procedures can be taught. Heart, passion and character cannot, so change the way you think when looking to hire someone, or add someone to your team. And remember, you are not hiring 'a degree' you are hiring a person. A human, with all the greatness, or foibles, that come with being human. No piece of paper, be it degree or resume, will give you insight into that aspect of your prospect or applicant. Theory and classroom acumen never translate to the real world experience, and expertise, character and work ethic cannot be taught.

Additionally, one of the most important factors in understanding who it is you are interviewing or considering is, "Why they are available in the first place?" It, in my opinion is the most missed question and factors in determining who the person is. Common sense would tell you, unless you are interviewing someone who is currently employed, looking for career change, or they having been downsized due to company or corporate re-structuring, there is a reason that person in front of you is not employed. Regardless of degree or skill set.

Lastly, the best employees and performers I have ever trained and hired were those that came with depth of character and right mindset, willing to learn the job, the company, or skills and expertise I needed in them, rather than those who came with all the knowledge of the job, but lacked the knowledge of how to be the best they could be. The hardest thing to do, and the most unproductive to your company's goals, is to have your managers, team or dept. heads have to un-train all the bad habits one may bring to the position and then try to retrain them in he correct mindset and procedures in order to have them accomplish the duties of the position for which they were hired.

If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

Till next time,