Along with his partner, Paul Saginaw, Weinzweig started Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982 with a short sandwich menu and a staff of two. Today, Weinzweig and Saginaw have built Zingerman’s into an organization with 10 companies, $64 million in revenue, more than 750 employees, and 22 managing partners. Zingerman’s is truly an Ann Arbor, Michigan, institution–the source of great food and great experiences for over 500,000 visitors every year.
Their sustainable vision for what great leadership looks like is founded on Robert Greenleaf’s idea of Servant Leadership, now referred by others as the “Zingerman’s model.” This model begins with Weinzweig’s belief in the power of “visioning” and includes a commitment to Open Book Management and opportunities for employee ownership.
Under Weinzweig and Saginaw’s leadership, Zingerman’s has become an advocate for anti-oppression and anti-racism, clearly celebrating the virtues of diversity with big goals in mind. Their website’s “Commitment to Diversity” statements declare:
We’ve been tabulating data over the years that show increases in the experience of inclusion according to racial and ethnic identity, gender and expression identity, disabilities, and many others. Our pipeline of managing partners continues to diversify, and we are on target in the next ten years to have a partners group that mirrors the racial and ethnic demographic makeup of our county on the 2020 census and affirm our aim to be a truly anti-racist organization.
Weinzweig has received praise for many of his books, including the Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading series, which includes his latest: Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business.
Favorite quote: “Beliefs underlie every single thing we do, both individually and organizationally. Beliefs are like the root system of our lives. In my metaphor, I started to look at organizational culture as the soil. Clearly the quality of the soil will have a huge impact on what’s planted–new ideas or new people–in the organization.”