Friday, May 1, 2009

I Am...The Cheesecake Factory???

If I had a dollar for every I'm-going-to-slit-my-throat-because-this-is-so-boring professional seminar I've attended, I'd be a rich, rich woman. If I had a dollar for every one of those seminars that I actually enjoyed, I'd be damn broke. You know which ones I'm talking about, right?

Diversity Training.

Respect In The Workplace.

Change Management.

Train The Trainer.

The Voice Of Leadership.

Sound familiar???

Of all the cockamamie professional development seminars I've ever been forced to attend, "People Styles" had to have been the lamest. In this particular seminar, each member of the organization had to send questionnaires out to at least three random people they normally work with, and those people would in turn use a scale of 1 to 5 to rate how they felt that you dealt with various issues in the workplace in everything from how closely you followed the dress code to how open you are to new ideas. Based on those peoples' answers, you would then get categorized into one of four "People Style" profiles that show how assertive people think you are as well as how emotionally responsive people think you are.

Drivers are more assertive at the workplace and less responsive to people. They are usually very direct and like fast paces. Translation: Asshole or bitch. Cold-hearted tyrant.

Expressives are more assertive but also more responsive to people. They tend to be energetic and talkative and are generally good team players. Translation: Scatterbrain. Also that guy that won't shut up and rambles in meetings.

Analyticals are less assertive and are less responsive to people. They are critical thinkers who are very systematic and need alot of data and facts. They also prefer to work alone. Translation: Nerd with no social skills.

Amiables are less assertive but more responsive to people. They are great team players and are very people oriented. They also tend to avoid conflict and be more indirect in their behavior. Translation: Pushover who tries too hard to please everyone.

And if getting forced into the confines of four defined categories wasn't bad enough, each quadrant is split into four subquadrants. So not only would you be stereotyped as a fascist dictator at work, but you might be a scatterbrained fascist dictator.

My personal People Styles' profile, you ask? Amiable-Amiable.

The Head Honcho of our department's People Styles' Profile? Driver-Driver.

The point of this whole exercise is to identify how you best work with people (i.e. your People Style), how other people in your workplace like to work, and how to flex your style to work better with those people. Sounds good on paper right? Well yeah, but not when it's literally on paper. The people who ran this thing made a chart thingamajiggy with the quadrants, subquadrants, and people's names within their assigned subquadrant and passed the thing out in a meeting where we went on to have a bullshit discussion about what we learned and how we've applied this to our jobs and how we would use what we learned going forward, yada, yada, yada. So there I was, Ms. Amiable-Amiable--supposedly the person in the department who was the nicest but who also possessed the least backbone--sitting there on paper all by herself, complete extreme polar opposites of our fearless leader, Mr. Driver-Driver--supposedly the meanest, most oppressive asshole of the group. The paper spelled it out: we were not meant to get along.

And then a funny thing happened as time went by: all but one of those people from that particular seminar who were forced into the Amiable category got let go. Including me. Gee, what a coinky-dink.

Fast forward a couple months later when my unemployed broke ass thought it'd be an opportune time to use that gift card I'd had sitting around from none other than the infamous chain restaurant of all chain restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory. Not usually my first choice for a night out with my family, but it was paid for so hey, why not?

As I was flipping though their 150 page menu and trying to decide whether I should play it safe and go with one of their staples like the Chicken Madeira or take a risk and try something new and a little less mediocre sounding, I came across their mantra: "Something For Everyone."




And then it dawned on me that I was dining at the equivalent of my assigned People Style of the restaurant world. Cheesecake Factory is clearly an Amiable: aims to please everyone at the expense of taking risks. Plays it safe and avoids being too bold. The huge Thai Lettuce Wraps appetizer was tasty but nowhere near as exciting as say, wrapping up Vietnamese cha gio in lettuce and herbs or wrapping up some piping hot kalbi in some lettuce smeared with ssam jang. We ordered some breaded chicken with proscuitto and arugula dish that I can't even remember the name of that was good--good, but not great. Our burger was, well, just a burger. And the cheesecake is the kind of dessert that certainly satisfies any sweet tooth, PMS, or pregnancy craving but is so cookie-cutter that sometimes I'd rather just have a cookie.

And then elsewhere in town, the Expressive restaurants were enchanting their diners with complete sensory overload, the Analyticals were busy being no frills and precise, and I'm sure there were more than enough take-it-or-leave-it Driver restaurants out there pissing some customers off while also maintaining a loyal following. (I'll let you choose the examples since Amiables can't seem to make quick decisions) In a perfect People Styles world, all these types of restaurants and their patrons would learn to flex their behaviors and learn to work well with one another because, after all, it should be one big happy dining community. But really, who are we kidding, right?

As we were finishing our massive, decent-but-nothing-to-write-home-about dinner, I looked around. Despite being a cookie-cutter chain restaurant that plays it safe, lots of people like it. The service is, for the most part, friendly and efficient. Lots of people wait to get a table and gee-guess-what, this place has been in business since 1978. Maybe the Cheesecake Factory and uh, by the way, Amiables in general ain't so bad after all.

So fuck you and your fucking People Styles. Take your typecasting bullshit and shove it up your Driver ass. The Cheesecake Factory is here to stay.


Tricerapops said...

hating on cheesecake factory is like hating 'mainstream radio' while in college. you realize that in the end - no one gives a f*ck what you think, so you should just let it go. the difference is, mainstream radio doesn't have avocado egg rolls going for it.

mattatouille said...

hilarious. vintage DG now in R&C form. christine and I have no hard feelings against cheesecake factory, except the wait is so damn long.

weezermonkey said...

This post is awesomer than awesome.

I am pretty scary (driver-expressive), but not *quite* as scary as your boss.

And, that being said, The Cheesecake Factory isn't for me, if only because I'm too lazy to flip through a menu that's long enough to have ads in it. ;)

e d b m said...

DG, this is the writing we miss from you haha. But wait, which quadrant do you belong in haha? I definitely see the different company types dining at CF. I remember the days when I would feel deprived/poor b/c my parents would never take us there. Same with Sizzler. Funny how things change as you grow.

Daily Gluttony said...


funny about the mainstream radio analogy! i'd be one of those peeps who'd make sure i purchase an obscure, indie CD at my local used CD shop along with my C&C Music Factory CD just so the record store guy didn't kick me out. haha


yeah, i can't stand the wait either. although the night we went, the wait was almost nonexistent, maybe b/c of the location (santa anita) but also prolly b/c we went at like 5:30pm!

weezer monkey,

driver-expressive, eh? so you are a scatterbrained motormouth w/ dictator tendencies??? hahaha


i can totally relate to you re: these kinds of restaurants & growing up. going to the sizzler was an absolute treat for us! haha

As for what quadrant i should be in, i don't disagree that i am Amiable b/c i believe in fostering team relationships at work and I also don't like to stir things up too much, but i completely disagree that i am Amiable-Amiable (aka the extreme Amiable) I'm thinking Expressive-Amiable. Oh well, whatever. It was a stupid exercise to begin with.

KirkK said...

Hey Pam - The folks back home in Hawaii still think Claim Jumper is amazing...... BTW, isn't it funny that they want you to think outside the box, but also want to make sure you fit in a box?

mattatouille said...

haha, that CF next to Santa Anita does seem to be empty all the time (well maybe that's because we're going to Tokyo Table's late night happy hour..though I hear it's out of business now).

Unknown said...

CF is in the business of making money by selling food. Small restaurants are in the business of making food in hopes of earning money.

Gastronomer said...

Haven't stepped foot inside a Cheesecake Factory since they removed the Pad Thai from the menu. What were they thinkin'?

Haven't stepped foot inside a professional development seminar ever. Woot!

I hope the man fed you well as you sat through all this bull sh*t.

H. C. said...

Hilarious! Thankfully I've been spared the fun times of these "professional" seminars at the few places I've worked.

I think Cheesecake Factory does food the way conservative fashionistas put together outfits, only one unpronounceable element at a time to give it that nuance of "edgy" while remaining largely WASP-friendly. Not that it's a bad thing -- like you say, amiable ;)

Anonymous said...

i love cheesecake factory! ( but i think i already "accidentally" disclosed that the first time we met =P) matt used to give me crap about it, I DONT CARE! I will defend cheesecake factory at all costs. its true, the food is solid and theres something for everone. even their pasta is fresh. the wait always looks bad but it hardly IS bad. and dude that squaw bread is the shizzzz.

i dont care if i lose all cred for this. HA

Diana said...

Best post ever. I'm totally an amiable amiable and not all that ashamed of it either! It's nice to be nice, gosh darnit!

That said, I'm still not all that into Cheesecake Factory. I'd definitely pick it over Applebee's or Wood Ranch or Chili's, but when I eat there I can't help but think what I could be eating instead...

joanh said...

great post!! at first, i thought you were talking about one of those facebook quizzes, like "Which Desparate Housewife are you?" or "I'm a Carrie" thinking wow, there's a "Which restaurant are you?"

Chubbypanda said...

This is an awesome article. Awesome.

I hate those leadership training seminars. They're just as bad as the "efficiency experts" who laid off the entire tech team at my last job because they convinced the numbnuts execs that all our work could be done cheaper and better if it was outsources to a company run by...

You guessed it. The efficiency experts. Surprise surprise.

You just go on being Amiable, girl. Trying to please those types of people just isn't worth it.

My guilty Amiable pleasure? Jonny Rockets.

Susan C said...

OMG - I'd be rich too if I had a buck for every one of those seminars.

I was first introduced to the personality quadrants in my initial management training class for the phone company (aka AT&T) way back in 1979.

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