Ari Weinzweig is the most captivating speaker I have ever heard. It’s that simple. Never has a lecturer inspired, captivated and made me think like Ari. Ari is the founder and CEO of my favorite restaurant enterprise in the world; Zingermans. However his lecture satisfied much more than my craving for information about how Zingermans started and ultimately thrived, it literally changed my position on life.
When I found out the founder of Zingermans was going to present to us I expected a strong willed, adamant capitalist and of course a graduate of the business school. To my surprise Ari was strong willed but he was far from adamant capitalist and even farther from a business school graduate. Ari was a Russian history major focusing in Russian anarchism, an uncommon and fascinating discipline, which ultimately shaped the way he built his business and the nature of his relationships with his employees. Within the first five minutes of the presentation I realized Ari had achieved with his life exactly what I strive for. Ari created a business that became so successful because he made its success and growth his life. Not out of a driving desire to make a ton of money but rather because it represented the ideals he believes in and his passion for the food industry.
After class, on the walk back to my house, my friend and I spoke about how amazing the lecture was and how much we would love to do something similar to Zingermans. I loved the idea of living in Ann Arbor for the rest of my life and creating a business with a unique enough niche to be successful while also serving the needs of the community while simultaneously giving back to a town that has given me so much. I want to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to work rather than dwell on the busy day ahead and counting the days until the weekend. My friend and I began throwing around some ideas of various clothing stores or generic food restaurants we could potentially open with no real substantive conversation forming. After about 10 minutes of talking I asked my friend “what food do you love”. He responded with a simple one-word answer that fuelled our conversation for the next hour. The word was “breakfast”. We began talking about a breakfast cart right in front of the diag. Serving up made to order breakfast sandwiches ranging from the simple 2 eggs on a roll to a bacon egg and cheese with a small side of frosted flakes and milk. This half serious, half kidding conversation lead to my realization that whatever it is that I do with my life needs to be in line with my ideals, morals and above all must make me happy. I’m the type of person that cannot settle with sitting behind a desk working to make money when I know I could be out in the world creating something of my own or working in a field that truly satisfy’s me intellectually and creatively. Life is way too short to spend the majority of my adult life in a field or position that does not truly make me excited to get out of bed in the morning and continue the journey of my career.