CEO of Zingerman’s Delicatessen and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Ari Weinzweig, the deli’s co-founder, shared his unique approach to business Wednesday evening.
With 33 years under his belt as the CEO of Zingerman’s Delicatessen and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Ari Weinzweig, the deli’s co-founder, shared his unique approach to business with about 45 Ann Arbor community members on Wednesday night.
The event, held in the Hatcher Graduate Library, was part of the Zingerman’s ZingTrain series, in which Weinzweig teaches his business philosophy to companies and organizations. Wednesday’s talk focused on the connections between anarchism and creative business models.
The concept promotes several tenets, including a focus on reducing hierarchy, bringing out the best in every member of the organization and teaching everyone to lead. He also emphasized encouraging an environment characterized by openness and positivity.
“You can’t have a healthy business in an unhealthy ecosystem,” he said.
Weinzweig outlined the several core beliefs he uses to run his business. He noted the importance of giving people the freedom to innovate and do good, rather than telling them what to do.
The deli co-founder drew inspiration from a collection of anarchist pamphlets and social protest primary sources housed in the University Library’s Joseph A. Labadie Collection. As part of the series, Weinzweig is launching his own series of pamphlets which promote the Zingerman’s business model.
During the talk, he read quotes from noted anarchists like Emma Goldman and Peter Koestenbaum with the aim of correcting misconceptions about anarchism.
“The popular perception of anarchism is chaos, but it’s not,” Weinzweig said. “It’s just about freely chosen organization.”
He also said many people see anarchism as calling for the overthrow of all leadership. For him, that’s not the right way to think of it.
“Leaders earn the right to lead by having content expertise and leading with integrity so people want them to lead,” Weinzweig said.
Weinzweig served as half of the team that gave the University’s commencement speech in May 2015. He, along with Zingerman’s co-founder Paul Saginaw emphasized generosity to graduates.
“I believe that going for greatness — greatness for you and not how everyone else in the world identifies it — is energizing,” Weinzweig said in May.