Last week, we spoke to Ari Weinzweig of Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s. He spoke to us about his anarchist approach to business amid the publication of his newest book, A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Being a Better Leader. And while Ari may not have planned for a future in writing, he has now penned several business and food books and, in the past, regularly contributed a wonderful series of food articles at TheAtlantic.com.
We’ve got a few more words of his to share - from a look at his day-to-day routines to some favorite foods for fall:
You’ve mentioned that there are no plans to expand Zingerman’s into any cities beyond Ann Arbor. Can you share your thoughts on local effort and community, and the bottom-up thinking that seems to be taking root in a lot of American cities right now?
Our 2020 vision outlines a future in which we’ll only be doing business here in the Ann Arbor area. That’s just the way we like to work—we like to know the people that we work with, know the people we’re serving, know the community, taste the food, etc. And I don’t think we could do that if were further afield. I wrote a lot about my beliefs about the importance of local work and how we define it here. I guess rather than bottom up thinking, which is better than top down, I’d look at with more of anarchistic approach. Working where everyone in the organization takes responsibility for what’s going on, everyone takes initiative, everyone is going after the same written and agreed upon vision and trying to live the same written and agreed upon values. We still have people in formal leadership roles, but we’re clear that everyone here, regardless of position, is responsible for the success of the organization.
What does a typical Monday look like for you?
Every day is different for me, and there’s not a whole lot of consistency for the same day of the week from week to week. My anarchist orientation, and the fact that we’re open seven days a week all year, and that I don’t have kids, has me treating every day equally. I try to treat every day as if it’s special, like a holiday, and enjoy and make the most of each day.
… A “typical day” (if there really is such a thing for me) might be getting to the Deli around 7, working there for a while, then going maybe out to the Bakehouse/Creamery/Coffee businesses, going somewhere else from there; meetings and classes are usually interspersed throughout the day. At some point in the afternoon/early evening I go home and run. And then at some point in the evening I usually end up working the floor at the Roadhouse for a bit. The day could also include going by Mail Order or ZingTrain or our offices. Or in the summer it might be sitting out in the sun at the picnic tables writing for five or six hours at a time. Or I could be teaching a ZingTrain seminar all day, or be traveling to teaching or speaking on the road.
Our next magazine issue focuses on the theme of comfort. Heading into fall, what’s a favorite comfort food dish you’ll likely be cooking up at home?
I cook a lot of pasta, a lot of salads, a lot of fish. We’ve been doing a lot with Tunisian food of late so I do quite a few dishes from that cuisine. If I we’re eating at the Roadhouse, I’d order the potlikker fish stew—pieces of seafood poached in potlikker (the broth from the long cooked collard greens that have a lot of bacon in them) served over the organic stone ground heirloom grits we get from Anson Mills in South Carolina. Most everything we make, and most everything I cook is comfort food really. There are actually ten recipes in the back of each business book. And then a whole lot more in Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating, and Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon.
Special ZingTrain discount:
Register and pay for any ZingTrain 2-day seminar between now and December 31st, 2012 and get $250 off the regular price of $1250.
Use the discount code FINOM (which means delicious in Hungarian, as are all the new Hungarian baked goods from Zingerman’s Bakehouse) to register any number of people for any number of seminars! You’ll get $250 off each registration!
[Photo credits: Zingermanscommunity.com, Zingerman’s Press]