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A Chef Who Drives Princeton's Mission

Updated: Jul 9

A Chef Who Drives Princeton's Mission

A few days ago, Monica and I were given a tour of Princeton University by James Van Wyck, who manages graduate student professional development programs (Princeton and Agastya are in the process of signing an agreement offering Princeton graduate students internship opportunities at Agastya). 

We walked into the dining area of Mathey College, where we bumped into Chef Michael Mattis (Princeton Univ. has many colleges, each with their own hall of residence and dining). Michael explained with visible pride, and in some detail, the range of cuisine that the dining staff produce every day for students (there's lots on offer for vegetarians too). He visibly owned his responsibilities and remarked, almost casually, that through the great food that his kitchen produces, "I am building the future leaders." 

Monica responded by asking me to narrate the 'JFK and the NASA janitor' story, which I did (when JFK asked a NASA janitor who was carrying a broom what he was doing, the janitor responded, "Mr. President, I am helping to put a man on the moon."). Michael beamed and said, "you have made my day!" I told Michael that he was an inspiration. 

The larger point of course is that when people engaged in seemingly less critical support positions in an organization believe that their work is central to the organization's success, you have a special institution whose success, and possibly greatness, is assured.


Indeed, this is the message that we have been communicating to Agastya staff and must continue relentlessly to do. Every member, no matter how high or low, must see and believe, in their own important way, how their work contributes to Agastya's mission. Then, magic happens.

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