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Customer Service

Bring Your Best Self to Work

Back in 2007, when Zingerman’s wrote Zingerman’s 2020 Vision describing what the business would look like in the year 2020, we wrote that “we [Zingerman’s] have successfully quantified fun, measured fun, and improved our fun factor by at least 380% since 2007. We actively teach people how to have fun at work. We have games to increase the volume of fun we experience and reward ourselves with added fun.”  

We set out to measure how much fun every employee was having, and as you can imagine, the process looked different in each of the Zingerman’s businesses. At the Roadhouse, staff tried telling jokes at the weekly huddle and attempted to measure the subsequent laughter. At the Deli, a different employee was selected at random each week and asked to rate how much fun they were having, as well as provide insight into what could increase how much fun they were having. Many of the businesses attempted to get a measurement of fun put into place, but nothing ever really “stuck.” What had started as a way to increase the amount of fun we were having soon turned into a point of contention. Without realizing it, we were actually decreasing the amount of fun we were having simply by attempting to quantify it! Not to mention, “fun” is subjective… one person’s idea of fun could very well be someone else’s idea of a terrible time!

Energy: A Better Way to Measure Fun?

It was around the time of the fun conundrum (the funundrum?) that Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s Founding Partner and CEO, heard Anese Cavanaugh speak about energy at a conference. Anese is an entrepreneur, an author, the creator of the IEP Method® (Intentional Energetic Presence®), a leadership and collaboration advisor, an impact strategist, and a thinking partner for business leaders in many different industries, and we’re HUGE fans of her work. She talked about energetic presence and suggested that the better we manage ourselves, the better, i.e. more positive, our energy will be. And the better we manage our energy, the more effective and positive we can be for the people around us.

With more positivity comes more fun.

That’s when the solution for measuring fun became clear to Ari. From that moment on…

in the professional world at Zingerman’s, the word “fun” would mean positive energy.”

According to Anese, there are three types of energy: Physical, Emotional/Mental and Vibrational. By managing the three types of energy within ourselves, we can ensure that we are bringing our best selves to work each day and are positively contributing to the organization.

Physical – Physical energy refers to how we feel on a physical level. We can better manage our physical energy by getting enough sleep, wearing comfortable clothes and shoes, eating the right foods at the right time and exercising.

Emotional or Mental – Emotional/Mental energy refers to our emotional well-being, or our headspace i.e. what’s happening inside of us, and managing emotional energy looks different for everyone. Some common tools for emotional/mental energy management are participating in a spiritual practice or meditation, exercise, pursuing hobbies or listening to/playing music.

Vibrational – Vibrational energy is the least tangible form of energy and differs from the others in that it alludes to the energy others perceive from their interactions with us. Or to put it simply, it’s the “vibes” we give off to others. Vibrational energy has a spectrum: on the high end are the “bucket fillers” – those full to the brim with positive energy and give energy to those around them simply with their presence. On the other end of the spectrum are the “energy vampires” – those who drain all of the energy or joy from a room with their presence.

Zingerman’s “Recipe” for Energy Management

Getting familiar with the physical, emotional/mental and vibrational energy is a great first step, but the hard work comes with attempting to manage energy. To help teach energy management to our staff, we’ve developed a 4-step “recipe”:

Step1: Read It
DentalAGGS_de33e95c-6e6a-429e-bf48-2c4ecd21fe1c_grande-1Take your emotional pulse. At Zingerman’s, we measure energy on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is disruptive, negative energy, and 10 is feeling totally “in the zone.” It’s important to note that 10 will look a little different for everyone. One person’s 10 might be upbeat and active and another’s 10 might be much quieter, involving a lot of alone time. One Zingerman’s employee likens the scale to “0-Zen,” because her 10 is a very calm, meditative energy.

Step 2: Vision It
Once you’ve read your energy and taken your emotional pulse, pick a point in time in the future and vision where you want your energy to be. This step is about setting a positive intention and a goal for yourself. A quick tip: Vision to maintain or improve your energy, rather than visioning it decreasing… it probably wouldn’t be that motivating then!

Step 3: Manage It
Once you’ve read and visioned your energy, the next step is to manage it. Everyone needs to take responsibility for managing their own energy i.e. doing what needs to be done to get their energy to where they want it to be, and then doing the work to sustain it. The better we manage our energy, the more positive we’ll be to those around us!

Step 4: Repeat It
Because, well, the work of managing energy well is never really “done.” You might find yourself feeling like an 8 or a 9 and then something happens, like talking to an “energy vampire” or suddenly falling ill. This is why repeating this recipe over-and-over again, throughout the day, is so important!

This is probably a good time to dispel any notion that we at Zingerman’s have it all figured out and only employ people who consistently operate at an energy level of 9 or 10, day after day… We certainly do not! After all, we’re human and life happens. What we have found, however, is that creating a common language to talk about energy (by way of the recipe above), and using it every single day has been immensely helpful in creating a great experience for our customers and for our employees. At ZingTrain, weekly huddles begin with everyone sharing their energy levels with one another. At Zingerman’s Mail Order, energy checks are performed on an hourly basis!

Everyone will have bad days, of course, but we recognize that because we are in a business where giving consistently great service is critical to our success, having low energy will make it really difficult to deliver a great experience to our customers. Having positive energy helps us deliver on our mission – to share the Zingerman’s Experience!

Getting Energy Skeptics On Board

When we teach energy management in many of our 2-day seminars, workshops, webinars and on-site with clients, we’ll often get asked…

“How do I get the people on board who think that energy management work is a waste of time?”

When Zingerman’s first rolled out the energy management “recipe” organization-wide, there were a fair share of skeptics. However, as we continued to consistently follow the recipe, we realized that the process of doing so led to more positive energy and more fun, which, in turn, led to getting people on board with the idea much more easily (and quickly!).

Whether we like it or not, energy is all around us, in tangible and intangible ways, and by creating a common language around it, we’ve noticed a myriad of benefits. We’ve seen it have a positive impact on customer experiences, the quality of the products we offer and our profitability. In fact, we believe in it so much that we’ve incorporated it into our interviewing, hiring and training! Not to mention, many employees have noted the positive impact it’s had on their personal lives, as well!


We’d love to hear from you! How do you manage your energy level at work?