If you’re anything like us, great conversation and delicious food are always a recipe for inspiration. Carolyn Sams and Isis Krause of First Seating know the power of a great breakfast or lunch to transform a team meeting into a fun social gathering – especially if everyone gets to play in the kitchen!

First Seating helps teams of all shapes and sizes (especially non-profits and purpose-driven businesses) tackle their most important initiatives and issues through engaging, collaborative, creative round-tables helping to drive rich conversations, collaborative decisions, and stronger connections among teams.

All summer long, we’ve been bringing you a series of team lunch concepts from this creative strategy duo to help you and your team connect and create business solutions in a fun, practical, personal way – plus office-kitchen-friendly dishes to go along with the discussion (like this Breakfast Salad!). So far, the ladies have shared their perfect conversation starters for your team pow-wow and ways to define your company culture to get everyone on the same page (and amped up about the work they’re doing!). Today, Carolyn and Isis are helping you refine your core message so you can create your best pitch ever…

In a world driven by storytelling, one of the greatest skills you can have is the ability to give a great pitch. We’re not talking tweetable taglines, but instead the unique ability to share a clear and enticing message of what your company, product or idea is, and why it’s so special. But getting there is tough, especially taking the time to step back and see your key value proposition.

Inspired by the great Business Model Canvas, we’ve created the Messaging Canvas – a series of key questions for your team to find clarity in your pitch. Each section will help you and your team build up a prioritized list of ideas and phrases that will help you speak with authenticity and passion, instead of a script. Work through the Messaging Canvas over a long team lunch – we’ve found that a healthy meal will give you the time and energy to take on these big discussions in a way that’s invigorating and inspiring. Our soba noodle salad is a perfect lunch for this conversation: It’s easy to prep, and has a wonderfully-addictive combo of fresh ginger, scallions and sesame oil. (Two of our favorite soba noodle dressings are Momofuku’s Ginger Scallion Sauce and Heidi Swanson’s Otsu Soba Salad. We combined them into one and made a few tweaks to get the flavor just right.)

The Team Conversation: Your Core Message
Download worksheet PDF here


– What is our “big why” – our unique purpose and our belief for why we need to exist?
– What is our long-term vision?

Haven’t yet defined your overall vision? Check out our last post for a vision guide.


– What relevant market, social and technology trends are happening today?
– What unique insights informed the creation of our offering?
– How are we different and better than our core competitors?


– Who is our target audience and user base?
– What challenge does our target user have?


– What are we offering? How does this provide a solution to our user’s challenges?
– How are we delivering this offering?
– What is our pricing structure?
– What is most unique about our offering?


– After engaging with us, how will our user’s life be improved?
– What will make them want to share with family and friends?


– What inspired us to start? What was the catalytic moment?
– How is the founder / team uniquely capable of achieving this big vision?

Sesame Ginger Scallion Soba with Sriracha Tofu
Serves 6 – but scale to your needs


For the ginger scallion dressing:
1 1/2 cup ginger, peeled and very finely diced
7 cups green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sesame oil
3/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
salt to taste
1-2 Tbsp agave to taste
zest and juice of 1-2 lemons

For the sriracha tofu:
1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into cubes
½ cup sriracha, or enough to completely cover tofu
1 Tbsp agave
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt

For the noodles and vegetable toppings:
6 bundles of soba noodles
raw, steamed or sauteed vegetables: chinese broccoli, sugar snap peas, asparagus, cucumbers – anything green and crunchy!

Garnish options:
cilantro and/or mint
thinly sliced jalapeno peppers
sesame seeds
lemon/lime wedges


For the tofu:
The night before, toss diced tofu in sriracha, agave, oil and salt. Refrigerate, covered, overnight or for at least an hour. Sear tofu on medium until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes.

For the dressing:
Stir together the rest of the ingredients until fully combined, and adjust seasoning. Stir in the ginger and scallions last.

For the noodles:
Make soba according to package. Tip for stoveless offices: Place uncooked soba in a very large bowl, cover completely with boiling water and a lid, and let sit for up to 10 minutes. Check for doneness every few minutes.

To assemble:
Toss noodles and dressing in a large bowl. Add vegetables, cooked tofu and other garnishes and serve!

* All items can be made the night before if you don’t have a stove.

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