An Interview With a Capitalist Anarchist

Leadership Lessons Are Everywhere

I’ve always been a believer that leadership principles and examples can be found everywhere.  You can see great leadership at work when you watch a parent interacting with a child.  (I think many of us honed our negotiation skills that way, too.)  I’ve learned great truths from watching a movie.  You can learn great principles from unexpected places if you’re looking for them.

In a previous post, I wrote about Zingerman’s, the Ann Arbor based collection of businesses mostly centered around great food.  One of the founding partners, Ari Weinzweig has written several books about customer service, business practices, and leadership.  You will find leadership principles on display at Zingerman’s.  You will also find that Ari discovered some of these principles in the least likely of places.

An Anarchist Turns Capitalist

As a student at the University of Michigan in the 1970s, Ari was influenced by the writings of 20th century anarchists.  He quotes now obscure names like Mikhail Bakunin, Rudolf Rocker and Nestor Makhno.  (Yes, it is odd that an early anarchist turned into an entrepreneurial capitalist.  If you think that’s strange, it’s just part of many ironies involving Ari.  He grew up in a kosher household and is now the author of The Guide to Better Bacon.  He even runs a Bacon Camp.) Though he obviously abandoned his anarchist roots, he adopted some of the thinking in running a business.  He is also careful to explain the difference between anarchy and anarchism.  Anarchy is a “state of leaderless bedlam” where anarchism is a philosophy based on individual respect and freedom from unnecessary authority.  In any case, it seems that his philosophy led him to a high respect for people, allowing them to pursue their own passions, and giving employees more freedom and choice because they generally will do the right thing.

Are You Low on Rocket Fuel?

In his keynote speeches, Tim Sanders often says, “Confidence is the rocket fuel of success.”  Tim’s ability to ignite your thoughts and propel you to a new destination will have you calling him your personal rocket fuel.

Meet Tim and you immediately sense his energy.  And it’s a good thing he has that energy.  He’s a sought-after international speaker and Fortune 1000 consultant.  He’s also the author of Love Is the Killer App, The Likeability Factor, Saving the World at Work, and his latest, Today We Are Rich.  He was the chief solutions officer at Yahoo! Currently, he is the CEO of Los Angeles tech start-up Net Minds.

Confidence is the rocket fuel of success. -Tim Sanders

What’s Your Purpose?

Named one of the world’s top leadership experts, John Baldoni is a recognized name for anyone studying the subject of leadership.  He has appeared on numerous programs, been quoted in publications as diverse as the New York Times to Investor’s Business Daily, and he has written articles for Inc. and the Harvard Business Review.  Having now read John’s tenth book, I recently enjoyed discussing leadership theory and practice with him.

If you regularly read his columns, you know that John scours the world for models of success and presents examples for you to follow.  Well before I was a CEO, I followed his practical tips.  If you are in a leadership position, he is someone you want to follow.  If you want to move up in an organization, he has some wise counsel.

Treat Me Like a Customer

One of my local Nashville friends, Louis Upkins, is someone who is filled with energy and ideas.  Whenever we get together, I am energized.  Louis has worked with some of the biggest names in business, sports, and entertainment. He wrote a thought-provoking book called Treat Me Like a Customer, which encourages business people to treat their families at least as well as their customers.  In a world that seems to be accelerating faster and faster, he has timeless advice on balance and lessons of success that really matter.

I spent some time with Louis talking about these principles and what he has learned from a life spent with fascinating people.

How Mets Pitcher R.A. Dickey Overcame Obstacles On & Off the Field

“You may hit me.   You may knock me around and knock balls out of the park.  But I am always going to get back up and keep coming at you.”  — R.A. Dickey

How many of us have this type of attitude no matter what trials we are facing?

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk and have lunch with Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey.  It was our first meeting, but I had already met him in the pages of his new book, Wherever I Wind Up.  His story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.  When I finished the book, I flipped back to the beginning and re-read the words in the quote above.  R.A. captured the essence of his life in those sentences and his ability to persevere through almost anything.