The Next Level

Recently I was in Sydney for a conference and I came across a small street side cafe near my hotel. The cafe was clean, funky and had a cool, slightly minimalist industrial style decor. But it wasn’t the decor that caught my attention (there were hundreds of cafes in the city with equally funky decor). What caught my attention was an item on the menu board: Next Level Toasties (or NLT’s for short). So I decided to give one of their NTL’s a try to see if they lived up to their name.

I ordered their classic ham and cheddar NTL. Up until that point, it was the best thing I had ever had between two slices of bread. The bread itself was a German style white sourdough toasted to perfection, the ham was carved off the bone, and the cheddar was to die for. For the next five minutes of my life, I was in pure bliss as I devoured my NLT.

The next day I went back. I tried their roast vegetable NLT and had a very similar experience to the day before. But it wasn’t just the NLT that blew my mind. What took the experience to the next level, was what the waiter said as I walked in. As I walked in on the second day, the waiter greeted me with, “Good morning, Mark”.

To this day, I don’t know how they did it. They must have some kind of system for remembering peoples' names. And I don’t know how they made toasties taste so good. I’ve tried time and time again to recreate the NLT’s at home, but I have never got close to the toastie perfection I experienced in Sydney. 

Obviously I told all my friends about my experience, and we have since come up with a meme called “Next Level”. If one of us in our group raves about a restaurant or buying experience they have had, we ask them, “Yeah ok, but was it next level?”

We have even made an unofficial Next Level list. To make it on the Next Level List, you must be left thinking, “how on Earth did they do that?” Also, to make it on the list, the experience has to be next level the second time you go there.

I think that there’s two essential questions that we need to ask ourselves in business. “What does Next Level look like in our industry?” And “How can our business get to the Next Level?” I reckon that in today’s world of rapid change and disruption, if your business is not aiming for the next level, then you might not be here in tomorrow’s world. 

By the way, don’t ask your customers these questions. They don’t know what next level looks like. You have to show them and blow their minds. Steve Jobs didn’t ask the market if they wanted a device that could take photos, play music, browse the internet, call, text and fit into your pocket. He showed us the iPhone.

I’m interested in your thoughts, is your business delivering a Next Level?