Flash Fiction Story 055: The Secret To Bringing Out The Best In People

The following is the preface for From Gouda to Great-a: How My Success In Business Can Become Yours by Florida Snoot.

In my career working at the highest levels of government, the forefront of scientific research, and 412 of the Fortune 500 companies, I’ve worked with some of the finest minds. Steve Jobs. John Rockefeller (both of them). Attila*.

One cannot deny their collective genius. Especially Attila. He could sell a refrigerator to somebody who already owned one.

But how did they become such towering intellects? More importantly, how were they able to take their ideas for the Next Great Thing and make them a reality? I assure you, the late, great Mr. Jobs didn’t wake up one day and say, “Gosh, I wish I could fit all of my albums in my shirt pocket,” and then it happened**.

But even more importantly: How did I contribute to these breakthrough ideas? What is the secret to my success, and how can you put it to use?

The secret is quite simple. So simple, that after you hear it you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before.

Warm, soft cheese.

Let me explain.

When I brought President John F. Kennedy—a close, personal friend to this day—a plate of nice, aged Gouda cheese while he was planning the Bay of Pigs Invasion, everything seemed hunky-dory. Cheese always helps problem solving. Our earliest ancestors knew this, mostly because I told them so.

I don’t need to tell you how things went after that. Kennedy (or as his closest friends and I continue to call him, Johnny-cakes) and I received some pretty discouraging feedback from Fidel Castro—he’s a great friend—regarding the invasion, the President turned to me and said the words I’ll never forget:

“Well, we’ll just need to learn to go from Gouda to great...a.”

I’ve run my business dealings and my life by those words ever since. 

The softer the cheese, the better the chances of success. When Ugh-Lug the cave man was hard at work trying to come up with some new manner of conveyance other than the same, old, boring putting one foot in front of the other, I brought the Neufchâtel, and before you knew it, we were looking at the flat square disc with a hole in it. The curves came later, sure, but we were well on our way to what we all now call the wheel. 

When John Rockefeller was wondering what to name his new suite of buildings in midtown Manhattan, I was there with a plate of fresh Brie. Now, we all call the location “that place where people wave on The Today Show.”

And yes, when Steve Jobs invented apples, I was there, too, pairing them with a nice sliced Coulommiers.

But my singular success through cheese isn’t enough. I want you to share in that success.

In chapter one—of this book, mind you—we will discuss the history of cheese and its undeniable tether to success in the professional world.

In chapter two—which I am told will occur some time after chapter one, but will come before the rest of the chapters—we will visit with the many, many famous people I know well and have helped along the way. We will learn how cheese—and, more importantly, my cheese—has helped them become the household names they are today.

In chapter three—which I am reasonably confident will appear somewhere within the confines of this book—we’ll have a bit of a cool down. Then, and only then, will hard cheeses be a permissible topic of conversation. Time for cheddar!

In chapter four, we will be refreshed and refocused on our journey to success! We’ll deal with a number of hypotheticals. What kind of cheese will help you win an interstellar war? What aged milk snack will help you deal with a potentially difficult conversation with a subordinate? What can of spray cheese do I recommend if you are itching to construct a screenplay that Hollywood is guaranteed to buy? With a good relationship to a local cheese importer, the sky is the limit!

In chapter five—the final chapter—I will re-print this preface, but use a different font. I’m thinking Baskerville Old Face!

Chapters six through seven are a list of soft cheeses I have used, in descending order of moistness.

Bon appétit! The success that will continue to elude you awaits!

*Not that one. I only worked for the Huns for a week. I wish them all the best in their endeavors.

**Well, he did say that—in fact, he said it to me personally—and then it did happen, but there were some other steps in the process. I’m almost sure of it.

Art by Eris O’Reilly

Art by Eris O’Reilly