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Giving Away the Recipe

“I don’t want to give away all my stuff!”

You’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase from service providers who are thinking about developing a course or writing a book. I’ve heard it from professionals who resist sharing their knowledge on their blog or in LinkedIn posts.

A similar exclamation may have crossed your lips as well.

Why Do Restaurants and Other Food Establishments Share Their Recipes?

Massimo Bottura is the owner and chef of Osteria Francescana, a restaurant in Modena, Italy. His restaurant is rated three stars by the Michelin Guide and has been consistently ranked as one of the top five restaurants in the world over the last several years.

He has shared his recipes in his book, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef. (That’s arguably the best title ever for a cookbook.)

Why is Chef Bottura “giving everything away”?

It’s because he receives much more, in return, than anything he “gives away.” Here are several benefits enjoyed by him and many others who’ve done the same thing:

  • Publicity. Recipes for signature dishes can significantly increase the profile of a food establishment and attract new customers.

  • Marketing and Branding. Sharing recipes reminds customers of their original experience of a dish. Potential customers are attracted by original recipes with high quality ingredients that they know they can’t fully duplicate at home.

  • A Sign of Confidence. They are showing that they believe the experience of their product is unique enough that it cannot be matched at home. This point applies particularly to high-end, dine-in restaurants like Osteria Francescana.

  • Differentiation. A restaurant positions itself beyond just a place to get fed. By sharing recipes, they are seen as a creative source of culinary expertise.

  • Client Loyalty and Engagement. Consumers today appreciate both transparency and generosity.

  • Realism. Most customers understand that they will never be able to recreate their favorite dish at home, given the differences in skill, cooking experience, equipment, and ingredient quality. They also know that even if they can perfectly recreate the dish, it will take them longer, with a higher stress level (particularly if others are waiting) than visiting the restaurant.

  • Numbers. There are only so many diners that can be served in Osteria Francescana or any other establishment. Chef Bottura's book creates an impact for his work that goes well beyond the restaurant, to culinary fans who might never visit Modena.

No, It's Not Different for Professional Services

I can hear the objection now: "that's ok for restaurants, but my service is different."

Please tap the brakes on the ego. It's not different for you or me.

If you think your five-step process for Blah Blah Lickity Split Business Success is original, you’re fooling yourself. The words you use to describe it and the way it's put together seem original, but they're not.

In my book, a big section of Chapter 2 explains how the idea of what I call The Generosity Mindset™ is nothing new. They're expressed in our ancient wisdom, and in different forms among quite a few modern business professionals and authors.

What might, just might, be original is how these ideas are applied to the confidence, value, and pricing of a solo or small firm service provider.

What's truly original, without doubt, and beyond what ChatGPT can spit out, are the stories and illustrations I use in the book to make my points.

What's original is me. My experiences and the way I express them. My way of explaining concepts. My way of working with those who need support.

The same is true for you.

What Can't Be Duplicated is You (and Speed of Outcomes)

One reader of my book called me and told me they loved the book, and what it made them realize was that they needed to hire me, which they did.

What this professional received, that they couldn't get from simply reading the "recipes" in my "cookbook," is focused guidance, using principles and ideas from my book, that were directly applied to them. 

Further, this individual realized their wish for a better definition of their value and better pricing much faster than they would have otherwise. This professional is now off and running, with renewed enthusiasm for their business, the impact they can make, the value of the transformative outcomes they deliver, and the pricing they receive for that work.

Be Generous with Your Ideas

Go write the book. Develop the course. "Give it away" in your posts on your blog or LinkedIn. Don't squeeze your insights so tightly that you choke off what you can do for others.

You'll be surprised at how that generosity will come back to you in ways you cannot imagine. 

(This post was originally made on LinkedIn on February 22, 2024 in John's LinkedIn newsletter, The Price and Value Journey)


Business consultant and coach, author, and podcaster John Ray advises solopreneurs and small professional services firms on their two most frustrating problems: pricing and business development. John is passionate about how changes in mindset, positioning, and pricing change the trajectory of a business and the lifestyle choices of a business owner. His clients are professionals who are selling their expertise, such as consultants, coaches, attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners.

John is the author of the national bestselling book, The Generosity Mindset: A Journey to Business Success by Raising Your Confidence, Value, and Prices. The book covers topics like value and adopting a mindset of value, pricing your services more effectively, proposals, and essential elements of growing your business. The book is available at all major physical and online book retailers.


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