Helping leaders emerge

Blog - March 2019

Zingerman’s Ari Weinzweig

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, four years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 12 businesses with 700+ employees and $65+ million in annual revenue. And in 2019, Zingerman's Roadhouse was named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award.

Our family met Ari last summer on a visit to Michigan while dining at Zingerman's Roadhouse (he was the water boy, refilling our glasses!). Since then I have gotten to know Ari and continue to be inspired by his community values, artistic creative expression, prolific writings, and business success.

Ari has authored several excellent books, including recently released pamphlet, The Art of Business, in which he emphasizes that we all have the capacity to approach our lives, jobs, and businesses as artists. 

As an executive coach, I especially appreciate Ari’s philosophy of how showing up as an artist links to mindful leadership and emotional intelligence. He believes that having an artist's mindset is about being more conscious of what you think, how you view the world, what you say and do, and how you relate to others. Doing so means ultimately leading a life of your own design (versus one that was chosen for you), believing in what you do, being true to yourself and your organization, and creating more meaningful business offerings. To learn how to live as an artist, read on!

The Art of Business – Why I Want to Be an Artist by Ari Weinzweig

Here’s an idea. Next time someone asks what you do for a living, try telling them you’re an artist. Watch their response. My forecast? They will pay far more attention when you start to share more about your life. So, I’m pretty sure, will you.

Don’t worry. I’m not trying to get you to tell tall tales. I believe it—even if you’re not an artist by trade today, I have full faith that you might already live an artistically inspired life. If you don’t now, I’m confident that you are more than capable. Accountants, actuaries, and astrophysicists—regardless of profession, we all have the ability to live our lives as if we were artists. And when we choose to live our lives creatively, to make the most of the days and months and years we have on the planet, to be true to ourselves as best we can and as often as possible, then our lives—and our organizations—are truly art as well. Most of us, I know, haven’t conceived of ourselves as artists. But I’m guessing that if we start imagining ourselves in this new light, our lives will likely become richer and more rewarding. Excellent, if imperfect, works of art in the making.

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