Eatsa JPG

by Ingrid Hart 

I picked up Haley, my 26-year-old daughter from the San Francisco Airport, and we drove back to her Berkeley home.  Dinner time was near. We were famished.

“Let’s eat,” I said.

Haley agreed.

“How about Zachary’s Pizza,” I said.  “You know how much I love their deep dish spinach pie.”

“No mom,” said Haley.

“You should stick with your diet.  Let’s try a new place that just opened.  It’s some kind of a quinoa bowl thing with veggies and some protein.  It’s on Telegraph.”

“Next to Blondies Pizza?” I said, hoping for a change in venue.

“Yes,” said Haley. “Near Blondies.”

I agreed to check out this new-fangled place, because the ingredients Haley described actually sounded pretty tasty.  They were downright diet-worthy.

Off we went to fill up at Eatsa.

Part of their tagline is “Better, Faster, Tastier.” Here’s the kicker: No lines. No cashier. No nonsense. We’re engineered to get you in and out fast.

Two young women dressed in red polo shirts greeted us at the entrance.

“Welcome to Eatsa,” both of them said at the same time, smiling widely.

“Been here before?”

We nodded our heads no-style, side to side.

“I downloaded your app,” said my millennial daughter.

“Okay,” said one of the women, a sense of relief on her cheery face.

“Then you know what to do.”

We headed straight to a series of kiosks to place our order into a sleek computer screen.  The place was scary clean—like it had just been scrubbed.  The overhead lighting created a sort of ambience you might find in a clothing store.  No aroma of yummy food in the air.  No hint of quinoa sizzling, Portobello mushrooms sautéing, or even crispy wontons frying.  No nurturing smell of food being prepared.  At all.

The pounding electronic sound of synthesizers was loud, but somehow felt appropriate in this venue.  I couldn’t hear myself think.  Not that I had to think. I could simply point to one of the quinoa bowls I wanted to order and then click.   The thing was complete.

I ordered a Bento Bowl.  Haley ordered a Burrito Bowl.  We waited by a series of what looked like storage lockers for our food to arrive.  Another young woman, bright and fresh in her red polo shirt was sporting the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.  I could see her job was to make sure our order was right.

“Where are the cooks?”  I asked her.

“I’m not sure.”

“You mean you don’t know where the cooks are?”  I asked.

She giggled, batting her Ladybug eyelashes.

“They didn’t tell us that in the training.”

I thought for a moment, that maybe there weren’t any cooks back there at all.  That maybe Eatsa engineered this automated dining experience so precisely to “get you in and out fast,” that there might not be a single human being behind the curtain at all.  Or maybe it was one guy pushing a button to fill the Bento Bowl.  Quinoa? Check.  Portobello mushrooms? Check.  Edamame, crispy wonton strips, and teriyaki sauce?  Check.

Launch the missile.

Haley’s name popped up on the locker door.  She extracted two perfectly balanced bowls of piping hot food, one stacked on top of the other, with our receipt attached.

The price?  Less than $14.

We said goodbye to all three of our gracious hosts, the young women whose job it is to facilitate our Eatsa user experience.  A position, I might add, that they performed well.  Despite not knowing the general vicinity of where a cook might, or might not be.

At Haley’s apartment, we peeled back the plastic lid of our bowls and marveled at the perfect, harmonious balance of ingredients, all in a hearty portion.  One thing’s for sure, at Eatsa, we had more than enough to eat.

But here’s the problem, or in my dieting case, the solution.

Halfway through my bowl, I had enough to eat.

It wasn’t that the food wasn’t tasty—it was quite flavorful.  And of course, it was highly nutritious, what with all the health benefits of quinoa being a complete protein, and having all the amino acids necessary for human nutrition.  All of that.

For me, it boiled down to this one final conclusion.

At the Eatsa retail space, I didn’t smell the food cooking.   I didn’t see the cooks preparing the food.  It felt sterile.  For me, the food at Eatsa had no soul.

When I came to the realization that a meal at Eatsa serves a utilitarian function, there was no reason to eat more.  I was full, not satisfied.  My nutritional needs were met, but not my emotional needs for a nurturing, loving meal prepared by a human hand with a human heart.

Would I recommend Eatsa?

You bet.

It’s a perfectly engineered user experience.  Think Silicon Valley meets Taco Bell or McDonald’s.  The food is nutritionally balanced.  The price point of $6.95 per bowl is just right.

If you’re looking for a fast food alternative, a good place for a low-cal meal, or you just want to experience the world of high-tech dining, check out Eatsa.  Just lower your expectations for a human dining experience.  And if you find out where the cooks are, would you let me know?


About Modcom Communications & Ingrid Hart

Modcom Communications is a team of content writers and project managers fluent in both traditional and new media business communications.  We’ve been in business for 23 years. We focus on delivering measurable results for our clients. From start-ups to growing businesses to Fortune 500 companies and to government agencies, our client base is diversified and solid.

Ingrid Hart is an accomplished business writer and project manager specializing in communications.  Throughout her career she’s written funded proposals in excess of $1 million dollars. Ingrid’s been a content writer and manager of over 15 websites, multiple social media channels and accounts, print collateral, press releases, blogs, emails, newsletters, white papers, FAQs, speeches, news stories, talking points, and public opinion pieces.  She’s the author of an award-winning book on California.  In the evening you can find her biking around Shoreline Lake in Mountain View.

Looking for a business writer?  Contact me:  ingrid@modcom.com

How May I Serve You?

August 12, 2015

Ingrid Hart Website Screen Shot

I’ve been reading new-age guru Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book on “Living the Wisdom of the Tao.”  When it comes to prolific and profitable writers, Dyer is at the top of the heap.  In this book, properly titled “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life,” Dyer writes one essay reflecting his own personal thoughts on each of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching authored by the Chinese sage Lao-tzu nearly 2,000 years ago.   The Tao or “The Way” is a book of wisdom that’s been translated more than any volume in the world, with the exception of the Bible.

My friend Hannah found Dyer’s book at a thrift shop and probably paid one dollar for this gem, written in 2009, and gave it to me as a gift.  I’m grateful. After thumbing through the preface one morning with a cup of coffee in my hand and the gentle morning sun peeking through the mini blinds of my Mountain View apartment, I wondered to myself how long it would take me to read the entire book.   I ran the numbers in my head: four chapters a week would allow for reflection and integration, divided by 81 chapters would equal roughly five months.  And so I began the self-study course on Living the Wisdom of the Tao.

“Living Contentment” is this morning’s reflection.  I’m enchanted with the Tao-centered question Lao-tzu says will lead us to a life of contentment.  “How May I Serve?”

This question shifted the possibility of engaging in the business world with greater intention for me.  Just this week I redesigned my website at www.ingridhart.com to reflect more of who I truly am: business writer and project manager. The user interface design on the website is stripped down to capture the essence of simplicity, catering to the visitor who sees themselves immediately in the images and text.  I followed the “Don’t Make Think” philosophy of web guru Steve Krug.

The website displays a You, Me, Our Journey content that is simple and direct.  It features a nautical theme: sailor, compass, boat, and lighthouse. You seek someone to write proposals, social media posts, press releases, newsletters, and reports; I’m a writer and project manager with over 20 years of experience in business communications; We collaborate on a winning strategy, create measureable results, and watch your business grow.

 

As a business owner for over 23 years, I’m always asking “How may I serve?” Because I want to support people, maybe you, or someone you know, on their projects.  The only way I know how to do this is by using my marketable skills as a business writer and project manager. Business, I believe, is about building and then maintaining relationships.  At the core of it, people want to be connected to one another and making the world a better place.  I believe that’s the true spirit behind Living the Wisdom of the Tao—working together for the greater good of humanity.

proposal v2

I just completed a proposal writing engagement for a global gaming company in the Silicon Valley.  This wild and wooly six-week gig facilitating a team of 11 professionals including engineers, marketing and sales, and the C-suite, inspired me to reflect on the art of persuasive writing and the magic of collaboration.  Here are some lessons learned from my experience.

Assign one proposal manager and then empower that person

A full-length proposal in response to an RFP holds myriad moving parts including production schedule, pricing, formatting, tables and graphs, table of contents, and an executive summary.  As the coordinator, I was tasked with keeping all parts of the proposal moving toward completion.  By assigning one point of contact the team members were clear on whom to funnel all their content.  If the proposal manager is not empowered, ambiguous roles may create confusion in version control which could lead to lost work and inefficient timeline management.

Understand the link between the proposal and sales manager

A solid business relationship between the proposal and sales manager cannot be mitigated.  When both these roles are in step, a stronger proposal is a sure thing.  I learned that if both operating styles are compatible, there’s a greater chance of success.

Identify the client’s pain points

The most effective proposals are those that the sales lead has developed a relationship with the client.  Sales should understand the client’s pain points, and the proposal manager must articulate a customized solution to address these issues.  To ensure a smooth communication download from sales to the written word, I developed a series of interview questions posed to the sales lead of our proposal based on a problem/solution/results format.

  • What part of the client’s company is affected by this problem?
  • What is the single most important part of this proposal that will make the client choose us?
  • What does success look like for our client?

Ensure a clear review process is in place

Identify all the team members who will review the proposal and how much influence they have on the final product.  I recommend three levels:

  1. Editorial review: technical aspects such as grammar, formatting, spelling, consistency, punctuation
  2. Client POV: Is the proposal approach solving the pain point? Is the language clear? Is there enough technical detail?
  3. C-Suite Review: Allow plenty of time for this final review by the CEO, CFO, or COO. Chances are once the C-Suite reviews the proposal there will be changes that must be addressed, so also build time in the schedule to integrate changes for one final pass-through after this review.

Conduct a post-mortem on the entire proposal process

After all the hard work, hundreds of hours, and countless versions of the proposal, it’s finally complete.  I believe the most useful part of the process is to identify what did and didn’t work for this proposal.  Less than 25 percent of proposals actually get the project, sometimes less, and for us, it may take months before we find out if we’re the winners.  Why not gather the team together for a 30-minute forensic evaluation of the proposal writing process?  It benefits everyone, making the next go-around even better.  This internal process builds the team and, even though it might be painful, and certainly enough finger-pointing to go around, it does make everyone stronger.  In the end, it’s about learning and improving communication skills, and making your business competitive.

About Ingrid Hart                                                                                                   

I’m an award-winning business writer, project manager, and social media strategist specializing in communications.  Throughout my career I’ve written funded proposals in excess of $1 million dollars. I’ve been a content writer and manager of over 15 websites, multiple social media channels and accounts, print collateral, press releases, blogs, emails, newsletters, white papers, FAQs, speeches, news stories, talking points, and public opinion pieces.  I’m the author of an award-winning book on California.  In the evening you can find me biking around Shoreline Lake in Mountain View.