You Really Don't Want to Serve Arroz con Gris

In this part of Spain there is a tradition called tapas.

When you order a beer or a glass of wine, the house will serve you a small plate of food with it, at no extra charge.

Sometimes it’s olives, sometimes a small portion of paella, or you might get some locally grown tomatoes with garlic, parsley and the olive oil made from olives of the owner’s backyard.

It’s a great tradition. Tapas actually means: a cover, a lid. It started way back in unsanitary times, when your beer or wine used to be served with a slice of bread to cover it, keeping the flies out.

Recently a Cuban bar opened up nearby, and since the owner is Cuban, he decided to serve a menu of authentic Cuban food, tapas and all.

I thought it was a fantastic idea and I was interested, so I went to have a try and see what cuisine is like in Cuba.

The owner was a fun and friendly guy. We talked for a bit, I ordered my beer, and as he delivered it he put down a small plate.

On the plate was some grey gooey looking rice. Kind of like risotto but without any vegetables.

With a big smile, he tells me it’s called Arroz con Gris – boiled rice mashed with refried beans. “We love this in Cuba!”


I didn’t have the heart to tell him, but eating it was one of the most boring experiences in my life. It was completely bland and tasteless.

Salt, pepper, beans, rice. Serve.

But why would you serve that?

Maybe he really likes it, maybe it’s a popular staple dish in Cuba, but a tapa is meant to entice me into wanting to eat me a whole plate of food, and pay for it.

If you give me a sampler of something boring, I’m not going to order anything else, so what’s the sense in it?

Just because he likes it?


Here’s why these things happen: We automatically assume that other people are like us. We have an inherent ‘people like me’ program running in our subconscience.

We assume that what we like, others will like too. We labour under the impression that the problems we want solving, others also want solved.

In business this is a disastrous attitude. It’s the reason so many startups fail, and it’s the reason so many entrepreneurs struggle to reach a stable flow of customers.

Do this instead: Ask yourself what problem people need solved, and forget about your own situation.

Never sell the thing that you need – sell what other people need.


By the way: if you need some help selling that thing other people need, hit me up for a sales page review. Small strategic tweaks can make a big difference to your conversion rates.





  1. Arroz con gris is *not* boiled rice with refried beans. It’s a yummy bean and rice blend that is flavored with onions, peppers, and garlic, not typically a bland dish. Check out this page:

  2. Hey Brittney? That’s fantastic, thank you.

    You did a couple of cool things here:

    1: You gave me a great recipe to try out
    2: You proved my point (the guy *could* have made a GOOD arroz con griz, but he didn’t: there was no trace of garlic or anything else in it)
    3: You corrected me (not an easy task, given my arrogance etc, but I’m happy when people manage to do it :)

    Thank you!

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