The Parmesan Lesson

Sep 2020

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

– James W. Frick

“If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need”

– Warren Buffet

What is a lesson that is both applicable to business and life?

Always spend money on better parmesan.

This is something I heard once that has always stuck with me, a lesson about Parmesan Cheese and life. When people make Italian food, they usually spend money on quality ingredients and time on preparation, but frequently end up using cheap parmesan. But parmesan cheese is a strong, dominant flavour that will have an overpowering effect on the rest of the dish.

It is the thing that is a little bit more expensive but does a lot of the heavy lifting towards making something more flavourful and pretty. By using more expensive parmesan cheese, it produces a disproportionately better experience of pasta than the delta of cost between buying a cheap and expensive parmesan. Because the difference in price between expensive and cheap parmesan is not huge.

So in almost all scenarios, getting the better parmesan produces a positive return. But few people do that. They go with the cheaper parmesan because it’s easier or to save money, even if usually they’ve bought other expensive ingredients. But if they spent more on better cheese, they would make better Italian food.

The lesson is applicable to life. That when faced with choices about purchasing and value, to go with the more expensive option that will produce a better outcome. If you’re going to build a company, spend the extra money on building good infrastructure. Because the company will be better.

To spend money on the higher order items that produce the greatest quantum of value, even if it’s a more expensive option. Always buy the better parmesan.