Foodie Alert: Hearth Restaurant Shines

Hearth Restaurant in Evanston (1625 Hinman Avenue), located in The Homestead hotel in the space formerly occupied by Quince, is a dynamic and delicious addition to Evanston’s expanding dining scene.

The food is creative, locally sourced, and beautifully plated. I enjoyed an appetizer of seared Ahi tuna served with avocado purée, soy caramel, and candied cilantro. The tuna was delicious, fresh, and flavorful–the soy caramel added an unexpected kick that made me smile. I completed my dinner with a half order of earthy mushroom ravioli, plus colored cauliflower tossed with red quinoa and golden raisins. Everything was delicious.tuna

Dessert was tangy, homemade ginger sorbet, and the bill was presented with chocolate ganache candies. The staff is friendly and attentive, and encourages diners to enjoy their food without feeling rushed.

Hearth’s menu is also friendly toward vegetarian and gluten free diners with acceptable dishes discreetly marked on the menu. The menu changes seasonally — it will be exciting to see what the chef has in store come summer’s bounty. Reservations for dinner suggested by telephone (847-570-8400) or via Open Table. Come hungry.



Remembering Oliver Sacks

I’ve been a fan of Oliver Sacks‘ ever since reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars. Dr. Sacks was a masterful storyteller; his TED description lists him as a neurological anthropologist. What I loved most about both Sacks’ style and subject matter was how he made science, especially all things medical, both relatable and understandable. The reader did not need to be an expert to empathize with each compelling tale.

His two most recent books, published in the year prior to his death on August 30, 2015, are Gratitude and On the Move, and they couldn’t be more different. Gratitude is a compact reflection of what it means to live a worthwhile life. The four essays that make up this tiny book were previously published in the The New York Times; each essay is powerful and thought-provoking. The writer is at peace and satisfied with the life he has lived.

On the Move is a memoir that expounds upon Sacks’ growth and development into the person he became. Whereas his earlier memoir Uncle Tungsten recounts his childhood, family, and love for the periodic table, On the Move describes adult successes and failures, both professionally and personally, from high school through a year or two before the end of his life.

The instant the librarian handed me the book, I did a double take examining the photo on the book jacket. The virile and handsome man on the motorcycle seems light years away from the grandfatherly looking and kind man I thought I knew. How did one become the other?  The journey spanning sixty or so years makes up this brave and honest book. He shares painful subjects: his mother’s hurtful comment when learning that her son had homosexual desires; unrequited loves; drug addiction; professional failures. I never imagined or knew he was painfully shy or that his approach toward treating his patients was considered radical and untraditional.

Sacks’ knowledge base was grounded in philosophy, nineteenth century medical histories, and his fascination with the world around him. He was a geek of the first order. He won a prize while in high school or college and with the money bought a used set of the Oxford English Dictionary…which he then proceeded to read and finish. (A new set today consists of 20 volumes and costs $1,045.)

He was an expert in flora and fauna, animals, geology, words, music, and countless other subjects. He was endlessly curious, but without judgement or fear. He traveled extensively, always documenting his voyages with photographs, notes, and essays. He kept journals religiously from the time he was a young teen, as well as copies of his voluminous correspondence to friends, family, and colleagues all over the world. He loved reading, writing, and learning, and was most comfortable with his own company. He swam nearly every day; water was where he did his best thinking.

Sacks’ brain was big. He revised his work constantly and gave his editors agita because he insisted on adding seemingly countless footnotes. His mind was expansive and his desire to share, to let all of us–his readers, his fans, and acolytes–in on the riches he saw and experienced, at times made the books long or even tedious. Yet reading about his adult life and the experiences that shaped him, I am convinced that his sharing this knowledge was an act of love.

I wish I had had a chance to meet and speak with him. His TED talk on visual hallucinations complements his fascinating books.


Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent

I’ve been earning a paycheck since I was a teenager. I’ve worked in all types of places for all types of people, and learned valuable lessons in each situation. What makes one place or experience better than others?  Fulfilling work, a sense of accomplishment, and a decent salary are all important, but are they enough?  For some, the chance to work for or with an industry visionary or “superboss” drives the decision.

Sidney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and the director of Tuck’s Center for Leadership, just released his latest book, Superbosses, the culmination of more than 10 years of research and 200 interviews. One of the conclusions of this fascinating book is superbosses exist in almost every industry. Their personal styles differ, but they all share common traits and behaviors.

One important behavior of a superboss, according to Finkelstein, is how they “identify, motivate, coach and leverage” talented new associates. They build collegial teams, almost pseudo families, yet encourage competition to push people beyond their limits. And when their successful protégés are ready to leave the fold, the superboss is supportive and encouraging. Mentor and mentee part on good terms and stay in touch, regularly exchanging prospects, leads, ideas, and industry gossip. The mentee–now a proven success in his or her own right–is still in the orbit of the superboss, whose influence continues to expand exponentially.

What are some of the personal characteristics that superbosses share? According to Finkelstein, there are five:

  • Superbosses all possess extreme confidence, even fearlessness, when it comes to furthering their own agendas and ideas.
  • …all superbosses share competitiveness…they thrive on it, they seek it out, and they create it.
  • …a character trait shared by superbosses–and one central to their innovation–is their imaginative nature. Superbosses are visionaries.
  • A fourth characteristic that superbosses universally manifest is integrity…strict adherence to a core vision or sense of self.
  • A fifth and final attribute of superbosses, a natural extension of integrity, is authenticity.

I recommend this book as a valuable resource to anyone who is interested in how organizations operate and how to motivate others. Finkelstein believes the “superboss effect” is teachable, and that any of us could learn and adopt what they do to develop world-class talent.

If you manage others, compare yourself to these superbosses to see if you share any of the same traits and what you can do to perhaps become more like them. If you work for someone else, ask yourself if you work for a superboss. If you do not currently work for a superboss but want to, who in your industry is setting the bar for innovation and talent? Where do you need to be to grow the most, to be the best in your field?

Superbosses are among us even if they are not mentioned by name in this immensely readable book. Finkelstein’s Superbosses provides a roadmap to find them.