by Jeremy Nulik
A St. Louis business owner after reading our cover story.
November 15, 2011 –
I’m really not the type of person who takes the time to write out a vision. I used to sit through meeting after meeting of leadership committees and team-building seminars. Terms like “vision,” “mission,” “synergy” and “outside-the-box” all fell into the same category for me – waste of my time. I thought that I was done doing crap like that when I quit my corporate job and started my business.
But my cynicism took a short vacation after I read about Zingerman’s Community of Businesses and their commitment to visioning. It has always made sense to me to “begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey would say. But that becomes difficult when I have important meetings and maybe one of my employees has a personal crisis or when I just need to focus on my company’s sales. I easily lose sight of where we are going.
Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t going under. I’ve always made payroll and things are going all right. At least, they seem to be. But that was true for Ari and Paul as well back in 1992. Their deli wasn’t hurting. They had just celebrated 10 years of business. Most people would be congratulating themselves. But, there was something missing each day that went by with no larger purpose or sense of direction.
I know that feeling.
It reminded me of a book I read when I was on one of those godforsaken team building retreats, Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, “Not much happens without a dream. And for something great to happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams. Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality; but the dream must be there first.”
I guess I have always known that this stuff was important, but these guys actually did it. So many of my colleagues are full of good saying and intentions, but these two actually implemented writing a vision and it became a key part of their company culture. And if it worked for Ari and Paul – two anti-business, anarchist hippies in a small college town – then it can work for me too.
So, last week I started writing my vision. I used the hot pen technique that they suggested where you just don’t stop writing for twenty minutes. It is hard to shut off my self-editing voices, but I am getting there. And maybe for the first time in my business’ history, I am excited at what we can become.
That is our vision for you. We hope you create a positive idea of where you and your business can be. If you have some ideas about your business, feel free to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.