Dispatch No.


November 24, 2016

Dispatch No. 02: The Zingerman’s Way

1. Purchases
Paine’s Red Cedar Incense is incredible. I am not an incense person. We never use incense in our home. Until these little babies came into our world. They are little compressed cones of cedar wood shavings. After you light it, it sends up a delicious smoke stream of wonder. It smells like Christmas. It smells like camping. It smells like the pristine outdoors. It smells like a roaring fire in your fireplace. It is amazing.

Each box has about 50 little cones in it. It costs about $8 on Amazon. It comes with a little wooden stand to burn the cedar cones on. Each cone burns for about 10 minutes but the aroma lingers for 30-45 minutes.

2. Books
“I Am Here  Now”, by the people at the Mindfulness Project. This is a great little journal that my wife purchased for me. It contains a ton of creative prompts to help you get onto paper the thoughts moving around in your head. I love the design of it. It’s minimal and clean and focused and so far it has helped me start to build a rhythm of writing my thoughts down. It’s $10 on Amazon.

3. Sports
The algorithm grows more mature.  In the last dispatch I mentioned that I’ve been working on an algorithm that would help me forecast the outcome of games. After this past Sunday (NFL week 11) my record against the spread is 49-16-2.

That’s a winning percentage of 74.6%. Which, as it turns out, is fantastic in the world of sports forecasting.

I was especially nervous last week as I gave my forecasted winners to my friend Mark to place a small wager on. He was happy with the results. Last week the algorithm picked every single game correctly!

I’m excited with the results and plan on publishing them soon at www.scorecast.net


4. Business
Last week we toured several commercial spaces in West Knoxville for our second Makers Donuts location. Our agent, the talented George Brown has shown us some interesting options.

We planned on opening a second Makers location as early as January or February of 2017. After some additional thought, we’ve decided to hold off – at least for a few more months and shoot towards Spring of 2017.

Our goal is to focus in on our training, processes and culture at Makers and work to grow them and make them even stronger before we move to a second location. We are inspired by Ari Weinzweig and the team at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI. Over the last 30 years or so, they have built a great business with an amazing focus on their customer service and their team. They started with one small deli and now have over a dozen businesses and close to 1000 employees.


I want to grow a business that will be here for 30+ years and I believe these means growing stronger, not just quicker.

I’m just starting Ari’s first book, “A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building A Great Business“. I am inspired and encouraged and challenged all at the same time. It means making some difficult changes in how I lead and serve and grow our team –  but I know it will be so worth it.

“The world is run by those who show up to run it.”

I’m not sure who originally said this but I heard it at a conference recently. I love it. Woody Allen famously said, “90% of life is showing up”. It’s the truth – show up – contribute – make – craft – join in. We need your voice.


5. Restaurants
A few months ago I met Brian Strutz. Brian is a talented chef and over a few coffees about business and restaurants we’ve become friends. Brian recently opened Adopo Pizza here in Knoxville. It’s a beautiful space with clean lines and an incredible pizza oven imported from Italy. The oven is wood-fired and reaches tempatures close to 1000 degrees.

My wife Sara and I ate at Adopo for the first time last week and I want to report that it was fantastic. I had the margherita pizza which is my favorite – just simple tomato sauce, mozzzarella and basil. It was delicious and I ate it in about 90 seconds (it wasn’t pretty).  I wanted to order another one but tried to play it cool. We finished up our meal with a creamy cup of espresso gelato which was also wonderful. Remedy has actually partnered with Adopo to supply the espresso for the gelato.

You need to go savor pizza here. Trust me on this one.

6. Curiosity

Did you know the Common Swift Bird can stay in the air, without landing for 10 months? What! This is insane to me – 10 months!

Get this…someone in Hong Kong recently paid $620,000 for a………parking space. Yup, a parking space. Yikes. I thought parking in Downtown Knoxville was expensive.

This Christmas Commercial from Apple, featuring actor Brad Garret, is perfect.

7. Knox Heritage
Makers Donuts was recently selected by Knox Heritage as a winner of the Fantastic Fifteen award. It’s an award that recognizes preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties in Knoxville. The building that is home to Makers Donuts (804 Tyson Street) was built in the early 1940’s as a transmission repair shop. It was in rough shape when we first moved in but it has beautiful “bones” and just needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to life.

We’re honored to receive the award. We’re so thankful for Patricia Smith and all our friends and neighbors who worked so hard to help us bring this beauty back to life.

8. Best Interview Questions
As a small business owner I do a lot of interviews with potential employees. Every time, I struggle to come up with questions that help me get a glimpse of the real person. It’s tricky. Honestly, I’m pretty bad at it. My average interview is over in about 4 minutes because I simply don’t know what to ask. Until now.

Square posted 10 fantastic questions to ask during an interview. These 5 are my favorite and I’ve already starting asking them:

What did you learn about the company from our website?

What is the most significant thing you’ve done since breakfast?

You’re faced with two tasks, each of which takes two hours to complete. But you only have three hours. What do you do?

If you do not get this job, what will you do next?

In your own words, describe what this role is about and why it is important to our company.