Looking for Opportunity? Follow the Korean Tacos.

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It’s not easy to open yourself up to possibility.  And when you make the effort it can be filled with risk and setbacks.

When I’m feeling stuck I remind myself that my world is, in many ways, a psychological construct of the mind.  And the story I see and tell myself is founded on a network of assumptions.  No matter how objective I try to be the world still extends well beyond the borders that confine me to my every day reality.  Every dilemma I find myself facing only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.


A Lesson in Taco Making

“Korean BBQ Tacos?  Are you crazy?  And a food truck?  Why would a well-respected Chef ruin his reputation by choosing an odd path such as this?”

Where some see dead ends, others see only opportunity.

Such is the fate of Chef Roy Choi.  When Chef Choi began talking about his vision for a mobile restaurant that serves Korean Tacos he received a series of warnings and ominous predications as to the fate of his career.  But Chef Choi was looking for something extraordinary and he knew that meant he needed to look in the unlikeliest of places.

Today, Chef Choi’s vision has become a reality with the creation of KOGI – America’s first viral restaurant and an unlikely blend of Korean BBQ and Mexican tacos.

I find this story remarkable in so many ways.   I admire Chef Choi’s courage to ponder the seemingly unthinkable, his quest to break away from tradition, and I am fascinated with the way he utilizes new marketing principles to tap into a community that is looking to be led.

Restaurants fall by the wayside at a rapid clip.  There are just so many to choose from that many get lost in a sea of choices.  We as consumers have become so numb to the status quo that we forget things could be better.  That is, until someone comes along with an idea so intriguing it’s as if we’ve been jolted out of a deep sleep. KOGI breaks the mold with its brave juxtaposition of ingredients and its willingness to connect with the community (both literally and figuratively).

Rather than follow the traditional model for restaurant success, Choi decided to measure himself against a whole new standard.  He thought differently.  And where others saw nothing, he saw opportunity and stuck with his vision.

The real secret behind his success is not the quality of his food.  What makes his story so unique is the way in which he successfully taps into the consciousness of his community (The City of Los Angeles) through the use of Social Networking.  His use of Twitter has helped create what is now called – Kogi Culture – an ever expanding community of restaurant patrons looking for a connection.  When someone stumbles upon Chef Choi’s Taco Truck they are invited to follow him on Twitter, and these people in turn spread the word using their Twitter connections.  Through Twitter, Chef Choi informs his community of his upcoming whereabouts and asks for suggestions as to where he should visit and when (talk about “listening to your customer”!).  When he drives to a specific location he is bombarded with customers anxiously awaiting his arrival.

When asked about his vision, Choi is humble in his reply.  But he is also quick to point out that he does not compare himself to traditional restaurants or to other mobile restaurants.  He tries to understand the wants and desires of the people he serves and looks to offer something truly unique and remarkable.  What he stumbled upon was a community thirsting for connection and for something new.

When I first read this story I felt myself becoming more and more excited about the possibilities within my own profession.

Chef Choi’s questions and challenges could just as easily be yours and mine.

-       Who or what are you comparing yourself to?

-       How do you approach a problem and identify opportunities?

Here’s a visual description as to how I used to approach the challenges I was faced with as I looked to grow my career.


With limited vision and patience I spiraled downward into a vicious cycle of anxiety, anger and limited options.  A Mobile Korean Taco Restaurant that uses Twitter as its main marketing tool would not have been at the forefront of my mind!

Today, I am humbly trying to adopt a problem solving model that looks more like this.


Which begs the question:

From which framework are you speaking?



  1. Brian Sullivan, PsyD  November 3, 2009

    David, this is the most interesting post I’ve seen from you so far. Keep them coming.

  2. Cordes Simpson  November 3, 2009

    I am thinking of going into private practice but I need to find a way to be in a group plan to cover my husband, myself and our two more years college daughter. Anyone got any ideas?? For the above, story I agree that you must always think outside the box and constantly consult hypothetically with others to get another perspective. If you stay stuck with your usual comfortable therapy model you may miss something very important.

  3. David Diana  November 3, 2009

    Will do Brian! And if anyone has any good advice for Cordes please pass it along.

  4. Susan Giurleo  November 4, 2009

    Great post! So the question becomes how do we leverage the power of social media (Twitter) for mental health? We could use it simply for feedback from interested folks and ask, what do you look for in a therapist? When you have a problem, who do you consult? How can we as a community support you better?

    Cordes, if I am reading your question correctly, it seems you will need to find out health care options for small businesses (which is what a private practice is), and determine the cost per month, per year. Then put together a business plan that will allow you to bring in enough income to cover all of your costs including health care.
    Hope that helps!

  5. Barbara Jordan  November 8, 2009

    To risk sounding not-so-professional or intelligent and a little “hokey”–way cool, David! We can all learn a bit about how to use social networking tools to stay connected with our audience. It is the “how-to” and specific tools or “apps” of staying connected through twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Ecademy with which I struggle. I would like more dialogue on that. Anyone out have any targetted advice?

  6. consulting community  October 18, 2013

    Interesting read. cheers.

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