Episode 57: Servant Leadership At Zingerman’s With Ari Weinzweig [The Amiel Show]

Ari Weinzweig

In 2003 Inc magazine called the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses the “coolest small business in America.”

Step inside the Zingerman’s Deli or any of its other businesses, and you’ll quickly see why. There is a buzz in the air. An aliveness. Customers and employees alike seem genuinely happy to be there. It’s as though there are secret air ducts bringing dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter”) into the building and taking cortisol (a stress hormone) out.

And the food? Well, it is amazing. And world famous. In 2007 Bon Appetit gave its Lifetime Achievement award (an honor rarely bestowed—past winners include Alice Waters and Julia Child) to Zingerman’s cofounders, Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw.

From a financial perspective, Zingerman’s pulls in $50 million a year. As my father would say, “not too shabby!”

Zingerman’s has a special meaning to me. It’s in my hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Deli opened during my teenage years when trying to fit an overstuffed roast beef sandwich into the mouth became a thrilling challenge. Today, every time we go back to Ann Arbor to visit, I take my sons there two or three times–even if the visit is only a few days long!

As a customer, I’m satisfied. As a student of leadership, I’m curious: what goes on behind the scenes to make this business so special? How do the leaders treat employees? How do employees interact with each other? What are the rules of the game that make the outcomes so extraordinary?

Cofounder Ari Weinzweig has explored these questions in a series of books called Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading. The latest just came out and is called A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business.

In this week’s episode, Ari and I talk widely and deeply about all of this–and share some laughs along the way.

I think you’ll enjoy Ari’s clarity, energy, and Chicago accent. Please do the show a favor and share with friends who love food, care about leadership, and/or enjoy feeling alive.

Highlights

  • 18:00 Treating staff like customers – each one is different!
  • 23:00 Ari pours water for thirsty employees
  • 27:00 Peer-to-peer versus parental relationships
  • 34:00 Anarcho-capitalism
  • 40:00 Energizing the workplace
  • 46:30 Front-line employees know the numbers and manage the business
  • 52:00 Determining who will manage is a peer-to-peer decision
  • 1:00:00 Ari uses daily journaling to stop ruminating
  • 1:02:30 The Three Good Things exercise

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The more we use authority, the less effective it is.

–Ari Weinzweig, Co-founder of Zingerman’s  Tweet this quote

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Episode 35: Doc Parsley on How Sleep Makes Everything Better [The Amiel Show]

Sleep helps you perform better at everything.

Everything.

At work. At home. And all the places in between.

Now, what if you’re less interested in doing more than in being the best version of yourself?

Sleeps helps there, too.

This is the message of Doctor Kirk Parsley, known widely as Doc Parsley. He is a medical doctor, sleep and hormonal modulation expert, consultant to corporations and professional teams, and former Sleep Medicine expert for Navy Special Warfare.

One other distinction: Doc Parsley is physically strong. Who better to disabuse us of the notion that “sleep is for the weak” than a former Navy SEAL and competitive athlete?

Head Shot

Highlights

  • 5:00 What persuades people to pay attention to their sleep
  • 22:00 How our ancestors maximized slow wave sleep
  • 26:30 How REM sleep cements everything you learned that day
  • 33:30 How sleep can help you when starting a new leadership role
  • 39:30 Doc Parsley’s journey from competitive athlete to Navy SEAL to physician to sleep expert
  • 44:00 Navy SEALs with blood panels you’d expect in an out-of-shape 65-year-old man
  • 57:00 The great results you can get from one week of great sleep
  • 59:00 Sleep hygiene
  • 1:02:30 How catching up on sleep is like paying off credit card debt
  • 1:08:30 The ideal length of a nap
  • 1:12:30 Perimenopausal and menopausal women and their hormonal and sleep challenges

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The time you get better at everything is while you sleep

–Doc Parsley  Tweet this quote

If I gave you $1M to make sleep your #1 priority for a week, could you do it?

–Doc Parsley Tweet this quote

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New to Podcasts?

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Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  4. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

The 6 Causes of Overscheduling–And What To Do About Them

Let’s talk about meetings. Are you wishing you could spend more time in them?

I didn’t think so.

Most people managers have entered the era of back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings—and that’s on a light day! Apart from being a time drain, this crazy schedule makes people tired and grumpy. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Indeed, research shows that high performers in every field do exactly the opposite. They go through a perform-renew-perform-renew cycle that gives them a break every 90 minutes.

Busy octopus

Do you take a break every 90 minutes?

Again, I didn’t think so.

In the immortal words of Yoda, overscheduled you are.

Flipping Complaints to Commitments (Jedi Leadership Tricks)

As you spend more time watching how you interact with others, you may notice something about your conversations.

Specifically, that you bitch and moan about things that bother you. Maybe not every minute, but probably a few times a day.

What’s the problem with bitching and moaning? After all, everybody does it.

flip pancakes

Three things:

  1. You feel lousy. Maybe not at first, but within a few minutes, kind of like eating french fries with ice cream—something I loved doing after high school soccer games at Wendy’s fast food restaurant.
  2. People see you differently. It’s the weirdest thing: even though we all complain, when we hear somebody else doing it, we quickly make a judgment about them. You can lose credibility that you worked so hard to build up.
  3. It dampens the mood of your team. When people hear you making negative comments, it affects their emotional state. This is because, as brain science teaches us, our nervous systems are intertwined. Your periodic complaints about, say, how IT or HR let you down, can shift others into moods of resignation, resentment, or fear.

Politics Is Not Optional: The Case of the Weakened Boss

The three biggest mistakes I’ve made as an executive coach in the past decade have one thing in common: organizational politics. In each case, I failed to sufficiently prepare the leaders I was coaching for power moves at senior levels that could—and did—affect them.

Here’s the thing. Few people would call me naive. I’m biologically wired to see what could go wrong and warn people about it. I’m also fascinated by the darkest guides to power and influence (e.g. Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power). However, with these three leaders, I missed key dynamics to which they were also blind, and it ended up costing them.

In this post, I share one of those stories. My intent is two-fold: first, to demonstrate that in organizations politics is not optional; and, second, to illustrate the level of acumen required to navigate politics skillfully.

Deer wounded in road

Case 1: The Weakened Boss

Linda was a highly successful senior manager with an amazing network at her company. When I met her, she had recently been brought onto a senior team in order to introduce a new business model, one more suited to the radically new market dynamics. Many of her colleagues were not enthusiastic about this business model. Some, in fact, were bitterly opposed to it. They had earned their stripes and had success in the prior business model. What did this new person think she was doing trying to change things?

Act In An Instant

At certain times in life, it’s important to act in an instant—even if the results will be less than ideal.

Consider the story of how I shaved my head for good.

Horse in starting gate

It was 2007. Julie and I were in the dining room of a condo in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, famous for its 18-foot-tall concrete sculpture of a troll smashing a VW bug in its left hand.

Dinner had just finished. At the table with me were Julie, our host (also named Julie), and her two friends. Four women plus Amiel.