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 Chipotle is adding its first new menu item in eight years: tofu sofritas.  What does that have to do with b-school?  Everything.

By Ben Feuer

Bloomberg Businessweek reported this week that Chipotle will be sprucing up its menu with its first new offering since 2005 -- and it's going to be tofu sofritas.

Excuse me?

Tofu?  Isn't that that mushy paste you feed to people who lost all their tastebuds in a tragic chewing accident?  (full disclosure -- this author is a former vegetarian). Quiznos is offering me "Toasty Mac and Cheese Pasta". Taco Bell is selling something called "XXL Crispy Steak".  And you're bringing nothing to the table but overpriced soybeans?  What kind of sense does that make?

Every kind.

7.3 million Americans are now vegetarians.  That's 3 percent, up from 1 percent in 1971.  22.8 million, or ten percent, are vegetarian inclined (including yours truly).  Of that 7.3 million, over 40 percent of them are 18-34 years old, AKA, the demographic that is currently forming lifelong buying habits.

So there's that.

Then there are the dieters.  20 percent of America at any given time, according to HuffPo.  Any veteran dieter will tell you vegetarianism is a great, healthy way to shed excess weight, if you control your portion sizes.  Oh, and by the way, dieting is a $50 billion a year industry.

Chipotle is a smart, forward-looking company.  They're replacing conventional "attractive people eat our products!" advertising with hip short films by up and coming filmmakers.  They're avoiding cluttering up their menu with silly seasonal promotions and 'limited time' offers, focusing on what they do well.  Attention, goals essay writers -- this is what leadership looks like.

If you're a prospective MBA candidate, this is the way you should be thinking.  Forget what's mainstream at this moment.  Be courageous.  Be a visionary.  Lead your market in the direction you think it should go.  And above all, write great essays.

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