A Commitment to Craft

In 2011, a documentary film was released about a sushi master in Japan. The film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, captured the attention of audiences around the world in the years that followed.

What’s so alluring about the film is the simple yet remarkable life philosophy of the central character, Jiro Ono. He states, “Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work.”

Jiro dedicated his entire adult life to perfecting his craft and even at the age of 85, remained focused on continuously improving every detail. His then three-michelin star restaurant was one of the world’s best and continues to this day, although no longer accessible to the public.

Kobe Bryant decided on his occupation as a young child and by high school had designed and instituted a rigorous practice schedule to work around the school day. He practiced before school started, at noon while others ate lunch, and in the evening.

He loved every part of the game from the smell of the ball, to the sounds of the gym, to how team cultures formed. And similar to Jiro, Kobe’s life philosophy, known as Mamba Mentality, was simple. As Kobe states in an interview, “The Mamba Mentality simply means trying to be the best version of yourself. It means, every day you’re trying to become better and it’s a constant quest, it’s an infinite quest.”

Achieving excellence can take an entire lifetime but for the individuals, groups and institutions on their journey they never think of how long it will take. Their sights are never set for the distant future; they are always set for the here and now. They are immersed, obsessed and in love with their craft every single step of the way.

At The Juilliard School, the most promising musicians, dancers, actors, and other artists from around the world learn the nuances, work ethic, and process required to meet Juilliard’s standards for excellence. Founded in 1905, the school’s reputation gradually grew to world renown as it became a magnet for the most gifted and continually produced the most prolific and accomplished professionals across its fields of study.

Comparatively, in the field of investing, the name Blackstone has developed a notable tenor. Founded in 1985 by Stephen Schwarzman and Peter Peterson, Blackstone began with a vision of building a private equity firm. As the firm experienced success, raised additional capital, recruited the highest caliber professionals, fine-tuned its processes and molded its culture, it became a symbol in the investment industry as the pinnacle for intellectual rigor and entrepreneurial dynamism.

Over a long period of time, the Juilliard and Blackstone brands became synonymous with ‘elite’ and this branding had a compounding effect in continually attracting the best from around the world. What these institutions shared in common was an intense focus on working with only the best people in order to produce and complete work of the highest standard.

With each step, world class individuals and world class institutions seek to recruit people of the highest caliber who are aligned with their mission and share the same values of commitment to craft, consistency, and ultimately, excellence. And to become truly exceptional, others clearly see the unique value in what one provides – Jiro’s Sushi, Kobe’s style of play, Juilliard’s education, and Blackstone’s investment acumen.

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