What Losing a Bet and Going Vegan for a Month Taught Me About Business

Defining goals, KPIs and celebrating the little victories are very important to winning the game of business (or, in this case, veganism).

On February 28, I had my last piece of meat; last bite of cheese; and last non-fat chai latte.

On April 2, I tried a piece of chicken.

Before all of that happened, I lost a bet. A horrible bet. A bet that, as I was on the brink of losing, was clearly going to be a big challenge and an even bigger mistake. I bet a vegan one game of ping pong and lost.

In the midst of competition, I accepted a bet with a vegan. He loses, he eats chicken. I lose, I become vegan for a month.

The bet, you see, was in my favor. I hadn’t lost to him in months. But, this moment was bound to be different—and clearly, it was.

Throughout the month of March, I stayed true to the rules of the bet. I went to two client conferences and fasted for meals that didn’t have vegan options; I ate a ton of potatoes for those meals that featured them (I am pretty sure Idaho could sponsor whatever is growing in my belly).

With the month done and over, I can say this: I did not sleep better; I do not feel better; I am hangry; and I am ready to move on from this bet. But, I did learn a few things.

If you put your mind to it, anything is possible: I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but, I am a man of my word. It was important for me not to cheat, even though my 1851 colleague Troy Kehoe said I could and that he wouldn’t tell. When you have been a carnivore for 36 years, it isn’t easy to simply skip the meat. Yet, perseverance and focus allowed me to do this. Vegans would suggest this is easy once things get going—but for me and my dieting, this wasn’t simple. I do appreciate the feeling of accomplishment.

In business, sometimes the largest hurdles seem too high to climb. I didn’t climb the whole month on day one, I took it meal by meal. Any diet, any goal, any success doesn’t come overnight. In the rare case that it does, the journey to get there is missed and the appreciation for the accomplishment is diminished.

When you care about something enough, success can happen: I understand why he (he being Michael Palm: @plantbasedgangster) is so committed to being a vegan. There is purpose to his mission and vision. He has something to accomplish every day. Every night he goes to bed knowing he did it again. The value of the accomplishment this far into it might not have the same meaning as it did for me on day one (when I had chips and salsa for nacho night, instead of mounds of meat and cheese), but it still means something. And, the purpose—living a better life that’s better for the earth—is a sound mission.

When you set your culture to follow values, missions and visions, you and your team have something to strive for every day. If there is no goal, it’s hard to come in day after day and fight for a vision. Defining goals, KPIs and celebrating the little victories are very important to winning the game of business.

If something doesn’t feel great, audible: On April 1, I could have ended the vegan marathon. I chose not to, as I wanted to do it with a meaningful meal—instead picking chicken on Sunday. Being a vegan, with my diet, didn’t make me feel better, didn’t help me to lose weight and didn’t help me sleep better. In fact, perception or not, it made me feel worse (lifts up chair to fight off angry vegans attacking—they are my feelings, back off). Thus, I stopped. I will be conscientious of what goes into my body. I will skip meat meals more frequently. I will continue to remove dairy from my meals (I did find tremendous value in this). But, being full vegan is not a fit for me at this point in my life.

You need to know when it’s time to change things up. In business, we are told to hire slowly and fire quickly. We are told that adaptation is key to success. After going through what I went through, I am even more sold on this. In business, you need to forecast turbulence and change to ensure a consistent climb to the top.

I learned plenty about myself, my ability to focus on a goal and achieve it, and what it is like to walk in the shoes of people who may not consume food or life like me. Thank you, Michael.

This column is syndicated from 1851 Franchise.