On Leadership and Cheeseburgers

So what does it take to become The Big Cheese in an organization? Or to become it in life in general?

You know, this means that you are becoming “the most influential or important person in a group.”

  • Do you have to be driven?
  • Do you have to be ruthless?
  • Do you have to be laser-focused?

What does it take to achieve that position or status of being The Big Cheese?

Rather than answer the question as to how to become The Big Cheese, I want to first show you a supreme example in everyday American life of how influential being a Big Cheese can be.

Being The Big Cheese

Being the Big Cheese in an organization can command Big respect. It can claim the spotlight. It can reign supreme in prominence on any size platform or stage. It can butt-out almost any other competitor and render them inconsequential.

It can silence every other opponent and stand in the most prominent position in radiant glory over all. Hands down, it quite simply can rule like none other.

So what is this entity that can clain such renown?

It is The Cheeseburger.

Yes, I said the cheeseburger. And to prove my point that no other single menu item can control the hearts and minds of an entire culture without them even knowing it, I am going to surprise many here with some keen insights.

Let’s do some simple math and let you decide based on the arithmetic:

Ground Beef + (nothing added) + Bun = Hamburger……………………… (Easy…)
Ground Beef + Cheese + Bun = Cheeseburger………………………….. (Easy…)


Ground Beef + Tomato + Bun = Hamburger (Hhmm… not a Tomato Burger)
Ground Beef + Lettuce + Bun = Hamburger……………………………… (Same …)
Ground Beef + Onion + Bun = Hamburger………………………………… (Same …)
Ground Beef + Pickles + Bun = Hamburger……………………………….. (Same …)
Ground Beef + Condiments + Bun = Hamburger………………………. (Same …)
Ground Beef + “Almost Anything Else” + Bun = Hamburger……… (Same …)

Anything in the standard lineup of hamburger add-ons does not get the same treatment that cheese does. Look at the picture of the popular fast food drive-through menu board at the top of this article. It has few items for sale, but the cheeseburger has a special place on the limited “real-estate” of that sign. And they charge extra money for that ingredient.

You certainly do not see “Lettuce Burger” for sale at the top of that sign for a $0.25 premium!

And look at the menu item called “Double Double.” It brings you double the meat and double the…..well, you guessed it…..double the cheese. Nowhere would a Double Double mean double the meat and double the lettuce?!?!

Almost nowhere in standard lexicon, imagination, or restaurant menu boards can the addition of another food ingredient to a standard bearer get it a place of such prominence as does the heroic cheese to the vaunted cheeseburger.

Think about how silly it would be to see “Tomato Burger” on a menu board and have it mean that you simply added a slice of tomato to the normal hamburger. And if you did have that item on a menu board at a restaurant that you owned, do you think that you could charge $0.20+ extra for the slice of tomato? No way! There would be an outcry! That would be like charging for a cup of water, or for the use of straws, napkins, or amenities in the restroom. People would not stand for it.

But cheese….Wonderful cheese. We gladly pay the extra $0.20+ for it to be added. After all, it is cheese!!!!

So, simply stated: The Cheeseburger Rules! Adding cheese to the hamburger allows the new creation to be The Big Cheese on the menu board. Period.

Now there are some boutique items worth mentioning just to acknowledge them ,but it still does not negate the Big Cheese Factor for the cheeseburger. For instance, here are some lesser known cousins that could make the menu board at a regional or destination location:

  • Jalapeno Burger
  • Pineapple Burger
  • Bacon Burger
  • Pizza Burger
  • Etc. Burger

But let’s face it…”These ain’t no cheeseburgers…”

And here are some meat replacement menu items:

  • Turkey Burger
  • Tofu Burger
  • Veggie Burger

And to me, “These ain’t even food…”

So with the nod to other “alternative burgers” in place, let’s focus on the real deal that is the leader of them all. He is Mr. Menu Board himself: The Cheeseburger.

The leadership qualities of The Cheeseburger are simply evident and I shall not enunciate them anymore. More importantly, to make functional progress in this piece, I want to investigate how we might emulate such placement and unwavering righteousness among the menu item food chain so that we, too, can lead like cheese.

What does cheese provide that other ingredients do not? What is the secret?

Quite simply, cheese is a product that is complimentary to many (most) other foods. It melts and molds for you when desired. It has a wholesome goodness and a dairy-fresh appeal. It is bright yellow. It tastes quite definitive. And it works well with most any team of ingredients.

Can you say this about your leadership profile?

  • Do you project an image and back it up as well as cheese does to the burger ensemble?
  • Are you complimentary to almost any combination of team members that may be slapped together at a moment’s notice?
  • Do you bend and conform to situations when needed?
  • Do you have the internal integrity that allows you to authentically project wholesome goodness and an honest hardworking appeal?
  • Are you projecting a bright and sunny disposition that is nice to be around and experience?
  • Is your flavor definitive and distinct?
  • Do you work well with others no matter who else is involved in the equation?
  • Are you commanding a leadership place of recognition that is unmatched because of WHO you are and HOW you lead?

Are you The Cheeseburger Leader?

Tom Schulte is Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership
He provides leadership training fit for the Blackberry-Attention-Span

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Video | Conference | Blog

Image Source:  informationarchitects.jp, rbvergara.files.wordpress.com


One response to “On Leadership and Cheeseburgers

  1. Fabulous Tom… simply fabulous. Now just work in the ability to drive growth and profits and I’ll by the book!


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s