Ari on Business, Business

A Double Debut: A New Book, A New Venue


The energy was palpable. Between the unveiling of a new venue and the buzz around a highly anticipated new book, the energy in the room was electric. The bustling city views of Ann Arbor and its passersby served as the perfect backdrop to explain what was happening in that room.

The attendees came from all walks of life. Jane and Paul Jones had travelled from Grand Rapids. “We’re probably aren’t the ones who had to travel the farthest; people come from all over the country to hear Ari speak!”, Judy told me. There were entrepreneurs and sociologists and social workers and professors. There were people from all walks and stages of life. The youngest attendee, Luell, came with his dad, who helped Ari with the book. When asked why he was excited to attend the event, Luell said: “I get to be someone. I get to be the youngest person here and I get to see what older people do!” Luell’s father, Teddy Araya, is the founder of the Center for African Leadership Studies and is mentioned in the new book. A few other attendees were also referenced in the new book including Hannah McNaughton, founder and Chief Envisionary at Envision Marketing.


The sleek lines of the Greyline, Zingerman’s newest, downtown event space, were reminiscent of the Art Deco style of the historic Ann Arbor Bus Depot it now occupies. The style of the Art Deco era used lines to create a sense of speed, of movement. It’s a perfect match for the Greyline, a new space that represents the movement of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses – expanding and moving into the future with a recognizable and influential style.

The event held at the brand new venue was a public introduction to co-founder and CEO of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses Ari Weinzweig’s newest book; the fourth in a series of books expounding Zingerman’s unique approach to business.

As the attendees were taking their seats and discussing the space and what brought them to the event, a woman from the University of Michigan relayed that what she was curious about Ari’s choice to focus on the concept of beliefs. She asked aloud: “Why did he pick the word belief instead of any other words? I’m just curious because I think that’s what’s most powerful. Beliefs are more than values, it’s about something more empowering in yourself. And feeling an external spiritual connection to something outside of yourself.”


Ari’s newest book, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business, is a new approach and a breath of fresh air in the world of business writing. The book is a detailed analysis of how our personal beliefs color our personal world and affect the changeable outcomes of our work. “Beliefs are the root system. They are what’s happening beneath the surface, that directly impacts what’s happening above ground.” Ari describes his newest work as his most personal yet. His early personal beliefs in the late 1970’s about business were negative until he realized that business is just a tool “that can be applied with harm or kindness”. Four years later he would be starting his first business.

Paul Saginaw, Ari Weinzweig and Vic Strecher

Paul Saginaw, Ari Weinzweig and Vic Strecher

The interview was facilitated by Vic Strecher, author of On Purpose: A Graphic Novel, and a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “Why beliefs? Why not things that people hold very dear to them, very close to them like their core values?” Vic asked. To which Ari responded: “All values are beliefs, but not all beliefs are values.” Ari went on to describe how even the information around us is colored by our preconceived or unconscious beliefs: the data we take in is radically altered by our beliefs.” Vic confirms the notion that humans are swayed by beliefs and experience: “We filter out information that doesn’t fit with our beliefs. We live in a ‘filter bubble'”. Ari pointed out that although many of us regularly say, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’… it’s actually the other way around. “We’ll see it when we believe it.

After discussing the book and its roots with Vic, the event was opened to audience questions. A young entrepreneur, Holly Rutt of The Little Flower Soap Co. and Sweet Pea Floral Design, thanked Ari for giving her the courage to pursue her entrepreneurial passion while disregarding all of the negative feedback people had tried to feed her about business. “I think as a business owner and a woman, the powers that be wanted to tell me that I couldn’t be myself. I’m very philosophical and very hopeful, that’s definitely a part of me. But I’m also interested in business and a business owner, and I felt like I was being told, other peoples’ beliefs, that those things were mutually exclusive. I feel like all of your books, and I’m excited to read this one, are giving me the permission to be all of those and fuse them together.”


Walking away from the event that evening, I could feel how Ari had not only touched on an important part of growing and steering a company (the beliefs with which they are founded and maintained), but I felt he was tapping into a theory about our cultural moment in time. How do our collective beliefs, or perhaps more importantly, the beliefs all of smaller groups hold maintain or change the status quo? How could we as individuals work to change our beliefs to create the outcomes we’re seeking? It’s an incredibly large question that Ari has tried to distill into 600 pages. I have a feeling there’s probably a second volume on his computer.

However, the opportunity to learn from Ari, one of Ann Arbor’s preeminent thought leaders is not limited to reading his work. From his employees to his customers to the people he meets throughout his travels, Ari is an open book. And he writes books. A winning combination.