Life Lessons from Bubba Gump's

Some of the best things in my life came from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. In fact, Bubba Gump's represents one of the best teachers I've had in my life, hands down. Yeah, the place with the tons of shrimp, plastic plates, and trivia about a 20+ year old film. Now, I've had some great teachers in my life thus far. Yet, relationships with teachers can come and go. To this point in my life, aside from my parents, who reign supreme at the top of the heap (I sure lucked out there!), none have stood the test of time and positive impact like good old Bubba's. Some of you might think this strange. How can it be that a touristy, chain restaurant ranks so highly with my yoga teacher? Well, folks, it all began before I was your yoga teacher, back when I was a lost little lamb roaming Lahaina town. I was recently divorced, smoking half a pack a day (yeah, see here), and felt like I had no purpose or direction in life. I felt washed up at the ripe old age of 24.

After applying at several restaurants in my need of quick, reliable income, I came to the doorstep of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The manager I met with told me I could be on the floor serving tables right away and making tips within just a few short days of training. That was the best deal I had come across by far, so I jumped on it.

The Return of The Jean Marie

Nothing says love like a whipped cream pie to the face. Thanks, fam.

When I came back to pick up my training packet, the manager at the door said, "Oh, you're the new Jean Marie!"

A little confused, I asked for clarification.

"We've got another woman named Jean Marie who's been working here forever. What are the odds, huh? You'll love her!"

This might not seem very strange until you know that, while my aforementioned parents had intended I go by Jean Marie, my precocious 5 year old self had insisted upon entering school that I be called "just Jean." That is because I felt "Jean Marie" to be far too long a moniker to deal with. And just Jean it stayed until Bubba's management saw my full name, and jumped on the chance to have not 1 but 2 Jean Marie's in the house.

I took it as a sign of getting my identity back after feeling so lost for so long. Jean Marie it is, then. You win, mom and dad.

The Top Ten

Bubba Gump's has one of the best training programs in the world. Yeah, that's a big statement. Deal with it. They are a well-oiled machine that brings in lumpy, misshapen balls of clay and crafts them into finely-tuned, money-making cogs of exuberance who can perform a rip-roaring birthday song that makes you quiver.

For as much as working there can be all too akin to the movie "Waiting" (but what restaurant job isn't?), this particular place had a special sense of family. This was thanks in large part to the core staff that have been and in many cases continue to be the heart and soul of the joint. And family teaches you important stuff.

Chief among the lessons I learned from this family were The Top Ten - the Ten Commandments, if you will, of Bubba Gump's. You learn them the first day, and better have them memorized long before training is over, because you will have to recite them verbatim again and again. I know what you're thinking, and yes, at the time of my training this seemed unbearably cheesy.

"So, what are they?" you ask. Well, it's super top secret information, so I can't tell you verbatim or I'd have to kill you. I think it's safe to paraphrase though...

1. All of our actions should display care and concern for each other. 2. Be a team player and look your best. 3. Attend meetings and participate with each other. 4. Smile and say, "Hi!" to everyone. 5. Greet people fast and help them. 6. Make people feel at home. 7. Share your knowledge. 8. Always do the right thing, even and especially when no one's looking. 9. Take care of everyone's safety and health. 10. Talk with your managers on the regular.

Yeah, it's pretty basic "good human" stuff. Yet, it's stuck with me long after my Gumping days ended. It really made a difference to essentially have the Golden Rule drilled into every person working there. And, truly, these principles aren't as easy to live by as you might think. Honestly, I know a lot of grown-ass people who could use a drilling on these principles, though they would likely, and mistakenly, think themselves above my fellow lowly Gumpers and their silly Top Ten.

So, I incorporate these principles into my own business and my daily life still. I'm particularly fond of numbers 1 and 8. Oh, if we could all always live by taking care of each other and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, what a wonderful world this could be!

It's very yogic, really. Take care of each other, take care of yourself, be nice to each other, participate as a part of the whole, help each other, teach each other, be clean, act with integrity, and always be learning. It's basic morality. No matter what system you get it from - yoga, religion, family, school, Bubba Gump's - make sure you're getting it and practicing it daily. Your fellow humans will get better for it, too. Go team!

I Heart Bubba's Forever

Beers of destiny. Who would've guessed?

Above and beyond these life lessons I relearned from the Shrimp Co., I got many of the most wonderful things I now have in my life there, all covered with shrimp grease and everything. I met some of my best and most growth-inducing friends I have there. I met the love of my life there, in a booth in the bar over beers. He gave me back my yoga and helped me find my vision. Later on, we got our four-legged fluff-ball child from Bubba's, too.

In the last few years I've gone to business school vicariously through my dear friend as she shot up the ladder there. We've also seen through Bubba's how it's sometimes the people you least expect who will be there to catch you when you stumble, and help you get back on your feet again with that genuine care and concern.

We know they're there for us, just like we're there for them. And it's all because we agree to live and act by some simple golden rules. Thanks, Bubba's. I'm doing my damnedest to pass the favor on and help others as much as you've helped me.