A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business by Ari Weinzweig

In case you’re not familiar with Zingerman’s– the delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan that was started in 1982 by Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw– you probably should be. Not only is their food great, but their service is exceptional. Since it started as a tiny deli in a run-down part of town, Zingerman’s business practices and culture have allowed them to expand into Zingerman’s community of businesses, or ZCoB in the company’s parlance. The current ZCoB constituents include: the original deli, a creamery, a bakery, a mail order service, a catering company, a barbecue joint, a coffee roastery, a candy manufactory, a Korean restaurant, and a 42-acre farm.

As part of his work with Zingerman’s training company ZingTrain, Ari Weinzweig wrote A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business in 2010. It was the first installment in a series of books on the subject of being a good leader. Weinzweig studied Russian history at the University of Michigan, where he became fascinated by the anarchist movement.

The book consists of essays or “secrets.” In true anarchist fashion, you can read them in order, from cover-to-cover, or read them in the order of your choosing. I can’t understate how refreshing it was to flip through this book about business and have the contents be so digestible, logical, and practical.

Ari is convincing in his argument that business is about what you do, not about any fancy brand you put together. What you do day to day in your business is what truly characterizes it– how you treat your staff, your customers, yourself as a leader or employee.