Taste and the hierarchy of trust

Tom Fishburne is the Marketoonist.

He makes funny about all things marketing, with clever pieces like this one, plus solid marketing savvy besides. He’s a powerful influencer. He gave the keynote at Google’s marketing conference in September, and SXSW ranked his 2012 talk No. 3 among 500 speakers. Although he’s drawn a lot of great ones, what was timely for me about this cartoon in particular was that I’d just had two “I’ll-have-what-she’s-having” situations that week….

It made me think about how we make decisions, how we decide to trust, and how taste factors into it.

I was at the bar in a French restaurant

I was meeting a friend for a drink. I got there first, so I ordered first. I went for a glass of red wine for the autumn chill in their air. I chose a Côte du Rhone I’d never had before.

When my friend arrived, the bartender promptly asked if she wanted something to drink. “What’s that?” she asked me. “Côtes du Rhône. It’s good.” “I’ll have that,” she said.

We meet there a lot. The food is always great, and for that, we owe a lot to this restaurant. They had properly decided what to offer us and do it so well that they inspire our trust and make us want to keep coming back. We like their taste. They appreciate ours.

In the second case, another friend and I met in a restaurant that’s strong on local food and drink. I’d never been there before. Again, I got there first. I saw an Ontario Baco on the list and had some doubts.

I asked the waiter.

Opening his eyes wide with a slow nod, he said, “Yeah,” with some measured enthusiasm that totally worked for me. It was genuine. In a blink, which is how we decide this stuff, I chose to trust him. Good decision. Beautiful wine.

When my second friend arrived, she was tired and drained from her day. She didn’t care what I was drinking. She didn’t want any choices. She didn’t need recommendations. The glass of wine in front of me told her everything she needed to know.

“One of those,” she told the server, before he’d even had a chance to ask her.

We need a full and ready consciousness to really taste. It’s possible that my friend only tasted generic red wine in that glass that day, because all her energy was going toward letting go of her stress.

And we owe a lot to that server. That I was happy with my choice made it possible to help my friend decompress. We owe a lot to the smart people who run good restaurants, who hire people like that guy and encourage him to share his honest ardour.