Better Followership

June 15th, 2017 by jtubbs

Without effective followers no leader will get anything of consequence completed. The key is that followership shouldn’t be tied to hierarchy any more than leadership is. Regardless of who’s leading on any given day, others of us will need to follow. Just as frontline staff will be better off for learning to lead, so, too, will I and others at “the top” be better off when we’re learning to be good followers, getting on board and supporting constructive initiatives being led by others in the organization. What’s different in this model is that each of us can lead and each can follow, and we all need to be good at both roles; it’s not always easy, but I think it’s ultimately and infinitely more effective.

As Roadhouse hostess Fionna Gault reminded me, good following is fed by, follows from, and leads to, good leadership. “Being a good leader and a good follower are pretty darn close to the same thing,” she said. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I think she’s right. I’m going to follow her lead and include her comments here. “I might even say that being a good follower is being a good leader in a way. When you decide to follow someone, to support someone’s idea or initiative, you are helping them reach their full potential. Great leaders create leaders, right? Well, the main thing a new leader needs is followers, so by becoming a follower, you can lead someone to success. Deciding to follow means making a decision about the direction you want to see things go in and taking action to make it happen, even if it is under someone else’s direction.”

Excerpt from Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Part 2: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Being a Better Leader

Dandelion Green Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing, Two Ways

May 31st, 2017 by jtubbs

It’s Camp Bacon week! In honor of the book that started it all, here’s an excerpt from our collection of recipes.

This recipe came courtesy of Francois Vecchio, one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of cured pork I’ve ever met. Once you know his background, you can see why. He grew up in Switzerland in the 1940s (“It was war outside of our little Swiss world,” he recalled). His father’s father was Piemontese, but moved to Geneva where he became a butcher. The roots are equally strong on his mother’s side. “My gran’pa,” he told me, “had the best restaurant in Geneva, Restaurant Chouard. He had learned his trade in London, Aswan, Davos and the Black Forest.”

After years of traveling the world while apprenticing as a butcher, Francois ended up in the family meat business based in Ticino. Eventually he moved to the States, where he has been involved in a wide range of efforts to cure traditional European salamis, hams and, of course, bacon. He’s now retired to Alaska, after living in California for decades. Alaska, Francois says, harkens back to his youth in the Alps—“It’s probably that old addiction, which makes me choose Alaska,” he explained, “the space here was in the mountains, rocks and glaciers…”

(The Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook, published in 1961, recommends that you “never use dandelion greens that have begun to flower, because they are apt to be bitter.” More on the Pennsylvania Dutch in a minute.) “Washing,” Francois went on, “is a chore and some sand always sticks around to the plate. The miracle occurs when on a first drizzling of balsamic vinegar and some brown mustard, I pour the hot rendering and sizzling and crisp diced bacon.” “My grandmother always claimed that it purges the liver of all the winter miasms,” he added. I don’t have data to support his grandmother’s claim, but I do know the salad is very good…

Interestingly, as we were working to transform Francois’ notes into culinary reality, the woman who was doing our testing—Jean Henry—shared her own experience out of the German tradition here in the U.S., bringing the bacon story full circle. “I grew up with a Pennsylvania Dutch version of this salad,” she emailed the same evening she saw Francois’ version.

“We also went out with our Pennsylvania Dutch babysitter and gathered the greens, before they were too large and bitter. We also gathered up the rosette of new leaves in a bunch and cut to the crown with a paring knife run round it. I always thought this was to prevent the plant from returning and to get all the smallest leaves—the Pennsylvania Dutch are always very efficient. We later cut off the root stalk. We triple washed the greens in the deep sink then spun them dry while the bacon cooked. And we always picked the greens as close to mealtime as possible…”


8 ounces (about 4 slices) pancetta, diced

8 ounces fresh dandelion greens, stems removed

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste


Fry the pancetta over medium heat until crisp.

While the pancetta is cooking wash the greens, then spin or pat them very dry. Place them in a warm, but not hot, serving bowl.

When the pancetta is done, immediately pour it and all its drippings straight from the skillet over the greens. If you need more fat, you can add a bit of olive oil. Toss immediately so that the hot fat wilts the greens a bit.

Spoon the mustard onto the greens, then sprinkle on the vinegar, then toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss one more time and serve right away.

(Francois adds, “My grandma even tossed a spoon of flour on the greens to soak more of the extra hot fat, it was fabulous but probably hard to convey to today’s consumers.” Feel free to try it at home.)

Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish


Substitute an American smoked bacon for the pancetta—Jean Henry recommends the Arkansas peppered bacon. For the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients: 2 teaspoons of a sweet, smooth German-style mustard, 1 egg, a teaspoon or so of sugar, 3 tablespoons of good apple cider vinegar, about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat, and salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the dandelion greens immediately.

Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon

Six Sayings That Support Stewardship

April 10th, 2017 by jtubbs

Excerpt from Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 2: Being a Better Leader.

Throughout this work, I’ve adopted a few sayings and techniques that help me to get past my initial desire to be right or run roughshod over the person I’m negotiating with, and that help get the two of us to a quicker and better outcome with a lot less stress en route. While none are guaranteed to work management magic, all six have been hugely helpful to me. On the chance that they might be of value to you, too, here they are.

a. When furious, get curious.

Paul taught me this one twenty-five years ago. I use it all the time, almost always with great results. The more frustrated I get, the more I try to make myself ask questions.

b. Curiosity is the antidote to awkwardness and antipathy.

No matter how uncomfortable things may seem when we start, the more curious I can make myself, the sooner I get past my own problems and am able to hear what the other person is saying.

c. Active listening is essential.

It doesn’t mean I have to agree, but I do need to make sure I’ve heard what they’re saying and actually understand their message as they mean it to be understood.

d. Get on the same side of the problem as the person you’re negotiating with.

If we talk as if we’re at odds, conflict almost always ensues. But when we work together to attack the problem, we can usually come up with a creative solution.

e. When in doubt, take a time out.

They work for kids, and I think they work just as well for everyone else, too.

f. Never act in anger.

You can (and will) certainly be angry. Just don’t make decisions and act on them while you’re angry!

 Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 2: Being a Better Leader
Secret 24 

Estar Dispuesto A Romper Las Reglas

March 31st, 2017 by jtubbs

Muchas veces los empleados dejan de seguir las reglas una y otra vez, ¡excepto el único día en que no queremos que lo hagan porque la regla obviamente estaba mal! ¿Le pasó esto alguna vez? Es un patrón repetitivo que… para serles franco, ¡me enfurece! Los reglamentos establecidos por el bien de seguir las reglas con frecuencia castigan a clientes inocentes que no tienen por qué estar al tanto de nuestros sistemas. Por eso, a pesar de que queremos que nuestro personal se rija por nuestras “reglas”, también queremos que piensen por sí mismos, que tomen decisiones en el contexto de la “Gráfica sobre la perspectiva del negocio” y que entiendan y actúen en base a la realidad, en la que a veces tenemos que romper las reglas o ignorar un sistema para poder atender mejor a nuestros clientes.

Una manera de combatir esto es recordarles a todos los empleados que nuestros sistemas y reglas se establecen sólo para ayudar a ofrecerles efectivamente un servicio de excelencia a nuestros clientes. Y cuando lo necesiten, queremos que rompan las reglas con el fin de dar un mejor servicio. Nos referimos a esto específicamente en nuestros Principios Guía: “Entendemos que nuestras acciones tienen gran impacto en nuestros clientes. Nos reservamos la flexibilidad de hacer excepciones a ciertas reglas cuando sea el cliente quien se beneficie con ello. No hacemos responsables a nuestros clientes por no conocer nuestros sistemas”.

Lo que esto significa en la práctica es que le pedimos específicamente a nuestro personal que esté listo para romper las reglas con el fin de darles un mejor servicio a los clientes. Sabemos que cada regla tiene su excepción, y lo último que queremos hacer es tratar a nuestros clientes según la ley de los promedios. Por el contrario, cada cliente quiere un servicio especial. De hecho, le pedimos específicamente a nuestros empleados que busquen la forma de “¡sólo decirles que sí!” a los clientes si ven la forma en que podamos satisfacer sus necesidades (ser creativos en este sentido).

¿Cómo se traduce esto en la práctica?

Tenemos un cliente que va al “Deli” todos los sábados. No es el tipo más fácil de tratar. Tiene muy buen gusto y es muy exigente; sabe muy bien lo que quiere o lo que no quiere en un día determinado. A menudo, lo que tiene ganas de comer no está en el menú. Pero en vez de leerle las reglas, las hemos ajustado para adaptarlas a sus necesidades. Sólo un gerente toma su orden. Un gerente o un supervisor es siempre quien la prepara. Es por ello que ya hace 15 años que regresa sábado tras sábado. Y como es muy expresivo con lo que piensa, yo sé que anda diciéndole a la gente que debieran venir a Zingerman’s también para tener una buena experiencia.

Being Willing to Break the Rules

Have you ever had the experience that staff members will fail to follow the rules over and over again, except for the one time that you didn’t want them to follow the rules because the rules were obviously wrong? It’s a repetitive pattern that…well, to be blunt, makes me crazy! Policies adhered to for the sake of rule-following frequently punish innocent customers who weren’t up to speed on our systems. So, while we certainly want our staff to adhere to our “rules,” we also want them to think for themselves, to make decisions in the context of the Business Perspective Chart, and to understand and act on the reality that sometimes we have to break the rules or ignore the systems in the interest of taking care of our customers.

One way we work to combat this is to remind everyone who works here that our systems and rules are only set up to help to effectively get great service to our customers. And that when they need to, we want our staff to break the rules in order to give better service. With this in mind, we specifically address this in our Guiding Principles by saying that, “We understand that our actions have an impact on our customers. We retain the flexibility to make exceptions to our rules when it is in the best interests of our guests to do so. We do not hold our guests responsible for not being familiar with our systems.”

What that means in practice is that we specifically ask our staff to be ready to break the rules in order to give better service to customers. We know that there are exceptions to every rule, and the last thing we want to do is handle our customers based on the law of averages. To the contrary, every customer wants special service. In fact, we specifically ask staffers here to find a way to “Just say yes!” to customers if there’s any way we can possibly meet their needs (think out of the box here).

What does this look like in practice?

We have one customer who comes into the Deli every Saturday. He’s not the easiest guy in the world to deal with. He has very good taste and very high standards, and he’s very particular about what he wants—or doesn’t want—on any given day. Often, what he’s in the mood for isn’t on the menu. But instead of reading him the rules, we’ve adjusted the rules to fit his needs. Only a manager takes his order. A manager or a supervisor always prepares it. As a result, he’s been coming back Saturday after Saturday for probably 15 years now. And because he’s very vocal about his feelings, I know that he’s out in the community telling people why they too should come and experience Zingerman’s.

Extracto de Guía Para Un Servicio De Excelencia

Excerpt from Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service


March 14th, 2017 by jtubbs

Cretan “Hand Held” Pies

Happy Pi(e) Day, everyone! Here’s a little pie recipe that was created for Zingerman’s Guide to Good EatingMany chapters and recipes end up being left behind in the editing process of a book like this, which leaves us with a file of extra bonus material! This recipe is a particularly yummy savory effort to serve alongside your favorite fruitful pies today. Wonderful little pies that you can serve at almost anytime of the day. If you’re using them for hors d’oeuvres or snacks you can make smaller pies; for main courses the larger size will work well. You can also eat them for breakfast drizzled with some good thyme honey.


1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

1/4 cup milk, kept very cold

Additional olive oil for brushing over pies



5 ounces Greek feta, crumbled

3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion, green part only

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon cracked black Telicherry pepper

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, preferably freshly ground


Preheat oven to 425° F.


For Pastry:

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl.

In a second, smaller bowl, whisk the olive oil and milk together. Make a well in the flour and slowly pour the milk/oil mixture into the center. Using your hands slowly mix the flour with the liquids until the dough forms.

Knead the dough for a few minutes. Let rest, wrapped in plastic wrap or covered with a damp towel while you’re making the filling.

For the filling:

Gently combine all the filling ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste for salt, pepper, and nutmeg and add more if you like.

To assemble:

Roll out the dough thinly on floured surface. Cut 5-inch rounds out of the dough. Fill the center of each round with 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture.

Fold the dough over the filling to form half moons, then pinch or crimp the edges with a fork. (To make smaller pies use a 3 inch round and only 1 tablespoon of filling per pie.)

Brush the top of each pie with a little olive oil.

Bake in 425°F oven on an ungreased baking sheet for 20 minutes or until the pies are golden brown all over.

Makes 4 to 6 large pies, 10 to 12 mini pies



Go the Extra Mile!

February 27th, 2017 by jtubbs

To give great service, we believe it’s more than engaging the guest and getting them what they’re looking for. To give great service, we add a step we call “going the extra mile.”

Going the extra mile at Zingerman’s means doing more than the guest has asked for—actually exceeding their expectations. Going the extra mile makes our customers leave their interactions with us thinking, “Wow! That was really nice.” And, we know from experience, it makes an enormous difference in the quality of the customer’s experience.

There are countless things we can do in the food business to go the extra mile for our customers. At Zingerman’s, they might include:

  • Giving a taste of a new item to a regular customer.
  • Sending an article to a client about their field of work.
  • Calling a customer back a few days after they received their order to follow up on the effectiveness of the work we did for them.
  • Adding a sample of something extra to an order.
  • Sending a hand-written “thank you” note or email to a customer.
  • Carrying a customer’s bag to their car.

This is all simple stuffPhysically, it’s usually the easiest part of the processBut because we—not the customer— have to come up with what it means to go the extra mile for the guest, it’s often the most challenging part of the process, mentallyIf the guest asks for something, simply filling their request does not qualify as an extra mile.

Ultimately, I think these extra miles bring that little something extra to our serviceIt’s the stuff that sets us apart from our countless competitors and that keeps our customers coming back for more positive Zingerman’s Experiences.

Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service

Guía Para Un Servicio De Excelencia