5 Ways To Make An Agency Creative Feel Like An Award Winner.

“Inside the mind of a writer is a truly terrifying experience.”
– Robert DeNiro at the Oscars, March 2014

Ouch, Bobby. As creatives, are we that insecure and in need of constant praise? Really? Well, maybe we’ve got the confidence and passion but like anyone, we do need to be recognized.

That’s where many agencies can maximize a terrific opportunity to show they care about the work, the work, the work. If it’s all about the work, recognize it. “Oh, do we really need to give everybody a cookie or sticker?” says The Insensitive Account Director. No. But if you did a good job in hiring talent at all, you’d know their work is worthy of recognition. Not cheesy recognition (“you win a free apple!”) but real recognition.

1. Framed Work On The Walls
Client walks into your agency and go into your conference room. Spends 3-5 minutes there. They can spend that time looking at exposed brick or they can look at some actual, real work. Work that inspires. Work that makes them laugh. Work that’s provocative. On the way in and out of the meeting they also see work hung in the hallways. Most importantly, that’s the stuff that your creatives see too – the stuff you live and breathe and celebrate. By the way, imagine a great piece your agency did as the jumping off point for a discussion vs. the typical small talk about how you took the kids up to Wisconsin for the weekend. Sorry, I fell asleep by the time that last sentence was completed.

2. Work On The Online Walls (i.e. Your Portfolio)
How is this hard? You choose a piece, you upload it. You write something about it. Done. Oh yeah – and you give credit to the creatives who made it happen. Every single one of them, plus account and production folks. Come on. I know you’ve got the time for this.

3. Give Credit In Front Of The Client
A client asks, “Who did this great line/this visual?” The standard answer is typically, “Oh, we ALL did. It was a TEAM effort.”

I know it’s a feel-good thing to say that, but it’s also perfectly OK to say, “Steve did the design and Luke did the copy. These guys did a really great job, didn’t they? ” This is your team. You brought them on. OWN IT. Why shouldn’t they be pointed out for making you look good?

4. Give Credit In Front Of The Agency
You may saying, “Oh, but how can we do that, Dan? You’re saying we should pull together a bunch of departments to just recognize our own people?” You’re overthinking this. It’s called email. You type it out. You give it some careful thought and consideration. And then you send it. Even if it’s only to your own department to say something like, “You know, I don’t always say it often enough but I’d like to personally thank (NAME) for (THING THEY DID TO MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD). I’m confident our client will love the result but even before that, I’m very proud of what we’ve put together with great sacrifice to time at home and sleep.”

If this is somehow too difficult for someone to do, it’s a problem of ego, laziness, fear, caring or a combination of all four.

5. The Internal Awards Show
Do you just want to rely on judges who don’t know your work? Creatives need tender loving care too and it’s not beneath you to celebrate their brilliance. Most Creative. The Best Ad The Client Should’ve Bought But Didn’t. Best Status Update That Uses Talking Cats. I don’t care. 

It’s not that winning outside awards don’t feel great. They do. They really, really do. But is it possible that a great feeling could also be experienced by the recognition you bestow on them within your own walls? If done right and actually meaningful with something the creative craves as a reward, the answer is yes, quite possibly. Which might save you thousands of dollars in entry fees and travel accommodations. Hearing praise from you, hopefully someone they very much respect, isn’t too shabby either. Why? Unlike those total strangers, you’re the one reviewing their work each and every day.

If you notice a pattern here, it’s that each of these ways requires you to give them some PDA: Public Display of Affection. No, I don’t mean making out with them. I mean publicly declaring your affection for their work to others.

There shouldn’t be any degree of risk in doing this if you truly believe in your people.

Because ultimately, you just have no idea how much of a long way a kind word and a kind action can go in the impact of someone’s day, someone’s focus, someone’s loyalty and heck, even someone’s life.

We all could use that feeling a little more often, don’t you think?

What other ways have you awarded creatives in your agency? Share them!

Every Growing Agency Needs A Coach Thibs

Sometimes we place so much emphasis on the first year of a business as its most challenging, we don’t always consider that the real challenges to come happen in Year 3, 4 or 5 – when tough transitions need to happen. When they do, your people on the ground can’t necessarily see the grand vision for what your organization is trying to accomplish high above. We can look no further at an organization like the Chicago Bulls to see how they struggle with this present/future paradox. The organization trades Luol Deng to save itself $20 million from the salary cap and avoid a dreaded tax for repeat luxury tax offenders. Which makes all the sense in the world from a financial standpoint. But for the actual players and coach, it makes no sense at all. They can’t relate to the move. They try to respect management but they also know that same management doesn’t take the court every few days like they do – even if they were former players. Managers aren’t their brothers. Managers don’t go into battle with them. Managers don’t communicate everything to them.

Doesn’t this sound like some cultures you might’ve worked in? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Take ad agencies, for example. I’ve worked in agencies where good people got laid off right and left. Management tried to justify the financial decision, but it didn’t really make sense. And here you were, knowing that you still have to write, still have to design, still have to program, still have to service your account.

But all the while, on the inside, you’re hurting. You’re ticked off. You just don’t understand it. The people who stick around can feel almost as bad as the people leaving.

It’s here, in the middle of the organization, where a Director-level person or people make a difference you can’t even measure to ensure the focus by your “troops on the ground” are on the tasks right in front of them. They don’t have to like the current situation. But they have to perform. In the Bulls’ situation, that person is Tom Thibodeau. Does he like the situation now after Deng has been traded? Of course not. Because no matter how much it may benefit the team long-term, he knows he has to win games right now and this move would seemingly impede that from happening. And yet, because he is such a good coach and can keep the team as focused as possible on maintaining a defensive identity, he’s still winning with what he has. How can this be? He’s not delusional. He’s not talking championship. He’s not expecting a locker room to instantly feel better about losing a cherished teammate, even after they win a game or two. But he does know that they still have to play games and win. To do that, everybody has to buy into his philosophy, which calls for playing the most suffocating defense in the NBA. It’s so stifling that other teams are going to beat the Bulls with more talent, but they’re not going to be outworked. This is no different than the mark of any other Thibodeau team, whether they had Derrick Rose or not.

In an agency setting, the role of Coach Thibs could very well be your Creative Director. The Copywriter and Art Director types look to this kind of person to help them understand what management above is doing. Did my CD always get what the people above were doing? Heck no. But the good ones also understood that we still needed to produce a fantastic product that was creatively captivating and strategically on target. But they weren’t robots. They could lend an ear too for people who needed to talk because happy people – at least happier people than yesterday – usually make for better results.

The CD here and there who couldn’t connect with their creative department fell short because they didn’t have these compassionate bones in their bodies. They couldn’t put moves from above in the proper context. They couldn’t try to relate and they didn’t see the purpose in doing so. It was just business as usual for them and their body language essentially told the rest of the team to “get over it.”

Which ones do you think got more respect and which ones do you think were tuned out more often?

In an agency setting, what can tend to happen when there is a connection with your CD is for the team to flip a switch and despite some sudden transitions of people leaving, the team sees themselves in a cocoon away from the rest of the craziness going on around them. They see a CD with fire and passion for doing great work as well as a person who has great love and respect for his people. They want to work hard for him. They want to make him look great. Because if he’s suddenly not part of their world, then things really will go to hell. And they don’t want to imagine that. There’s few things worse than a rudderless Creative Department.

In some small shops, you may not have the luxury of having upper management focused on the business of running the agency and Creative Directors – you may have to wear those hats together. I’ve had to do that and let me tell you, it’s far easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. You may want to “coach up” someone to grow into an Associate Creative Director role, which gives you the eventual win-win of giving more of your time to the goals/vision/promotion of the agency and potentially hanging on to a talented creative that much longer who can help you on the day-to-day level. After all, before he became a great coach, Thibs spent years and years learning the ropes as an Assistant.

Do you have a go-between Director or Director-of-the-future person like this in your environment? Identify them now and think about your plan to nurture them. You’ll be glad you did when big transitions in your agency are necessary that are abundantly apparent and necessary to you but far less clear to those players on the ground.

 

 

 

Of Blackhawks, Parades and The 5 Levels of Employee Retention

2013-06-28 10.37.03

 2013-06-28 10.35.18

You don’t get to celebrate a sports title coming to your city every day, every week, every year and in some cases, every few decades. That’s why as I took a few hours out of my day to savor the importance of celebrating this moment with the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup parade, I considered the hundreds of thousands of people who had joined me.

Sure, some of them might have had to take a vacation day or make up an excuse (“I..(cough, cough)…don’t feel so good, boss.”). Yet I know of at least a few Fortune 500 companies here that told their employees: “Go. Take this in. Spend some time within reason to applaud this team for what it meant to our city.”

It’s what I’d call a Retention Moment: These special moments where you supply and support your people through a surprising “extra” that caters to what they truly value most in life. Not what you think they want or think they would like, but what you definitely know they want.

Today it was related to sports. But other examples can relate to spending more time with family, getting tuition reimbursement and so much more.

 

What does this have to do with branding?

A lot – especially in the way of internal branding. You don’t build employee advocates of your company just because you gave them a raise. You build up that loyalty by understanding what makes each person tick and then giving them an easier path to celebrating more of what they value in life.

Unfortunately, retention matters at different levels to companies. If it even matters at all. In my mind, these are the 5 Types of Retention a brand engages in:

Retention Level 5: You’re One of the Family

I know how much you value time with your family and it’s been so hard to get everyone together in your house to take a true vacation. Here’s an extra $_____ to enjoy yourself on your vacation. Have a great time.

If you’ve ever seen the end of each episode of “Undercover Boss,” you know there’s a moment where an act the boss does leaves that employee in tears of gratitude. Why? Because the boss recognize their challenges as much as their accomplishments and he actually does something about that. It takes a special kind of person to reach this level. It’s a leader who wants to be there for his people because he cares about them. He knows that it’s pointless to expect them to fully productive at work if there’s traumatic issues at home. He helps them free of expectation, because it’s the right thing to do.

Who leaves an environment like this? Unless the role is menial, it becomes incredibly hard to – and that’s a very unlikely scenario because a boss who doesn’t care about the employee’s role isn’t suddenly going to shower them with rewards to try to bribe that employee to stay. No, when you reach this level, you’re the genuine article as a boss and an overall human being.

Retention Level 4: Victory Is Ours

To recognize our win of the Chrysler account. I am sending along a message via e-mail to our top brass mentioning the people on the team by name. Because without them, we never would have won this. I’m also taking our team out tonight to a nice restaurant to celebrate the moment.

Recognition of individual team members and celebrating every important win. It takes nothing but it’s still not always done. You shoot off an e-mail pointing out their specific achievements. You give an internal award (which doesn’t have to be financial). You frame their picture or images of their work. You savor the victories and make sure it’s a shared one. The more permanent these acts, the better. The more frequent these acts, the better. If you last celebrated a win 6 months ago, you’re missing Retention Moments. A company at this level doesn’t. Ever. Sometimes they don’t even need a reason for celebrating other than the fact that it brings people together.

Retention Level 3: Now We’re Getting Somewhere

There’s a championship parade downtown. Anyone who wants to go watch it can feel free to do so. This is a great thing for our city and I know many of you are fans. You will be paid for this time off and it will not infringe on your vacation/sick days.

This is still unexpected. Not everybody may want to go take advantage of this offer, but it doesn’t really matter. The leadership put it out there and that’s what counts. It’s not celebrating the individual but it’s still something the company can take advantage of. Well, Frances, the bitter and jaded Office Manager who’s 1 year away from retirement, may have an issue with it because she doesn’t like sports. Oh, lighten up, Frances.

A company at this level actually cares about following through to help the individual reach their goals – not in a way that tries to weed out underachievers but in a way that tries to bring out the best in people. They actually look forward to this planning with their employees – and beyond the talk, there’s action and evidence that the employee gets to where they want to go. Whether moving up means a promotion within the department or moving to another part of the company entirely, there’s a mutual dedication to maximizing the company’s talent in the right place.

Retention Level 2: Going Through The Motions 

It’s that time of year. We have to do an Individual Development Plan. Let’s sit down Friday and think of 2-3 goals you want to achieve. You’ll be expected to reach them next quarter. Or maybe that was within the next year. I can’t remember. Anyway, we’ll talk more and figure it out.

This is the average and expected. Many companies fall into this category and wonder why they don’t have more of a culture. Boss and employee sit down, review goals, critique, move on. They’ll remember it two weeks before they have to talk about it again. So what are the chances that this employee feels their work is being valued when talk of their development is treated like a chore or afterthought? Not much.

Retention Level 1: Why Hasn’t My Own Statue Hasn’t Been Built Yet?

I’m a terrific boss. I’ve been in this business for many years and everyone should be glad to be working here for me. I give them a job, a desk, a paycheck, a decent amount of time off and the ability to work on great accounts. If someone doesn’t like it, they can leave.

Egomania, ahoy! It’s all about him. Not his team. He thinks he’s the gift from above and all his minions should be happy to work in his presence. You’ve got to be kidding. While he’s imagining the documentary HBO is going to film about his life’s story, his employees are updating their resumes and portfolios to get the hell out of his environment tomorrow. But of course, in his view, they’re totally replaceable anyway. It’s a wonder he even knows all of their names – and in fact, he may not. It’s his world and they’re just living in it.

Where are you on this scale? How can you move up?

As you can guess, the manager who looks outward rather than inward, has greater humility than ego and takes the time to understand what his employees truly value rather than assuming it’s all about raises, bonuses and merely earning a paycheck can be the foundation of a better culture. That better culture can breed more brand advocates. You’ll also notice the scale moves upward from one manager thrilled with his own greatness to that manager striving to understand what makes each individual person happy (and supporting that in a selfless, compassionate way). People who are happier, more challenged and rewarded in a customized way are more productive people.

These elements are related in building the brand within – don’t kid yourself in thinking otherwise.

If you’re in any kind of position of influence, the momentum to move your company up the scale just may start with you.

That’s worth parading about town over.

Conversations with Your 22-Year-Old Self

I was taking a look at my very first Advertising portfolio the other day.

Have you done that recently?

It’s a fun and a bit humbling trip down Memory Lane. You should try it.

There they were, a collection of ads that were decently written but from an art direction standpoint…a total mess, really. I chuckled to myself as I saw the ads pasted on black construction paper. They were still good. I was proud of them. But it’s a good thing I was going for a Copywriter position and not anything in design.

The point is, my 22-year-old self wasn’t polished. I seriously doubt yours was either. But for all the ways we were rough around the edges, somebody took a liking to us and gave us a chance. I had a couple people like that. God bless them. I wasn’t even remotely picky about which agency I wanted to get into either. I just happened to be hired at a place with remarkable mentors. At the time when I was first hired, however, I was just happy to be doing work that had something to do with what I went to school for.

We sometimes lose sight of that when we reach the Creative Director/management level. We forget where we came from and instead of relating to the way we were, we expect a kid of today to be just like us in our current form.

That’s not being fair to them at all. This is where somebody says “life’s not fair”…yada, yada, yada. Try to be. A little more warmth won’t kill you.

Yes, we have to make tough decisions about who gets hired and who doesn’t. But if we’re truly about “the work” and not full of complete garbage, that’s such a huge part of where our evaluation should start and end – the portfolio. That’s where we should be tough. So why is it that we allow ourselves to get distracted by anything else when it matters?

“Oh, I didn’t like the font he used on his resume.”
Then guide him and give him some constructive feedback that might be helpful. Personally, I never thought a person could be accurately represented by one piece of paper unless they drew it in crayon or something absurd. The resume grows increasingly marginal compared to, say, a robust and creatively worded LinkedIn profile.

“He didn’t wear a tie.”
Lots of creatives don’t. Get. Over. It.

“He had earrings and tattoos.”
Go hire someone clean cut with far worse ideas. That sounds like a great plan. My bad, I thought we were in the idea business. Most earrings can be taken off and tattoos can be covered up for presentations. Judging a book by its cover is some pretty short-sighted stuff, particularly when you’re talking about creative people.

“He went to school at some university I wasn’t familiar with.”
Oh. Are we being school snobs now? Because obviously great ideas can only come out of one college or university or Ad School, right?

“His GPA was decent but not spectacular.”
Who the hell cares? Seriously? When does this ever come into play during one day of your entire professional life in Advertising? NEVER. “Oh man, if I had only been more of a 3.6 GPA kind of guy rather than a 3.2 GPA kind of guy I surely would’ve solved that problem.” Good grief. Did they graduate? Good. Move on.

“He didn’t speak that confidently.”
I absolutely stunk as a speaker of any kind for the first 8 years of my career. I took classes. I got better. I was given opportunities to present. I got better. When teams draft a rookie player, they don’t expect them to be All-Stars right away (it’s only a nice surprise once in a blue moon). Your draft pick might require similar nurturing.

“I asked her why I should hire her over so many other candidates.”
If you know anything about how to evaluate a person’s talent, you know the answer to this question already. Heck, they may ask you why they should join your agency!

Our 22-year-old selves were so far from perfect. In fact, we still are. So let’s not try to make candidates feel that they should kiss our ring and build statues in our honor just because we’ve been in the business a while and done good things with our talent. Let’s be the human beings that we are and, regardless of whether we hire them or not, see how we can utilize our knowledge to mentor college grads rather than beat them down for their imperfections.

We work in a business that, for all its insanity, can be amazingly exhilarating and fun. Not many of us get to work in a field where we can say that. If you love it as I do, you want to pull up people, not teach them a thing or two on the way life is. We can be more welcoming than judgmental to the incoming generation. If not for our own reputation than for our agency’s.

The portfolio is what really matters.
Don’t lose sight of that. The more you can help them improve it, the more you’ll be paying it forward instead of smacking them down. This doesn’t mean to take it easy on them – it’s OK to be challenging if it’s for the purpose of helping them improve. I do that when I come across a kid who thinks social media is all about writing within 140 characters, getting lots of followers, hashtagging and getting people to do Instagram because, well, it’s cool, bro. If ever there was someone who needs a Yoda so they don’t hurt themselves, it’s this kind of person.

We’re entering that time of year where a grad is going to ask for your time to give them a word of advice in person, by phone or by email. If you don’t have a job or internship for them, you probably have 10 minutes. Really. We all have 10 minutes. The cigarette break / Frappuccino run / conversation about Game of Thrones or Mad Men / FunnyOrDie video watching will just have to be temporarily replaced with something useful that might make more difference in a young person’s life than you can possibly realize.

Your 22-year-old self would probably agree.

Panera Cares baking up an evolved business model

“Being an entrepreneur is about seeing opportunity. It’s easy to write a check. But the real challenge for corporations like us is…what if we could solve some of these core problems too?”

– Ron Shaich, Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO, Panera Bread Co.

Sometimes when entrepreneurs talk about giving back to the community, it can feel as though it’s a convenient extra that’s good for PR or a team bonding day. Is it a nice gesture from that company? Absolutely. But it’s not exactly baked into the fabric of what the brand is all about either.

Which is what makes Panera Cares Café, the pay-by-donation restaurant concept from Panera Bread Company, so intriguing to me as a template for other businesses to potentially follow.

I had the opportunity last week to sit down with Panera’s Founder, Chairman and co-CEO, Ron Shaich, to learn more about the idea when he came to Chicago to open a Panera Cares in Lakeview (formerly a regular Panera Bread Co. restaurant), the 4th of its kind within the Panera restaurant system.

What I really wanted to find out was: Can a company find success and profit from a business model that expects people to do the right thing?

At first, I wasn’t certain. Sure, when you first learn about a restaurant that lets people pay what they want so that someone who has only small amount of money can buy anything on the menu, your first thought is, “Wow, that’s so nice of them to donate food to the community like that.” But as Shaich explains, there’s something deeper at work here.

“(Panera Cares) comes out of a view of the world in which the way in which businesses most succeed is when they make a difference for lots of different people. That’s the guts of Panera’s success since I founded it 25 years ago.”

Corporations give money and Panera is no different – franchisees included, the company has given near $100 million in donations to its surrounding communities. Still, Shaich says this method of donation felt a bit disconnected from Panera’s everyday work.

“One of the things that became clear to me is that a food shelter can be a dehumanizing experience. What we want to bring is a whole lot of positive energy out there.”

Are there lessons from Panera Cares that other businesses might apply to their brands if they’re trying to evolve their model for greater community tie-in and profitability? Start with these ideas:

 

See yours as more than an office/retail location.

Normally we refer to places like Panera as restaurants, but Shaich used the term, “Community centers.” With thousands of locations around the country, Panera supports the places where people gather and build community. And having witnessed it firsthand myself as a member of the neighborhood Panera Cares belongs to, you can see it’s a statement that’s entirely credible. These are places where everyone is meeting from networking businesspeople to running associations to seniors getting together for their regularly scheduled breakfast.

There certainly are other coffee shops that could offer this type of environment, but those tend to be people zoned in on the laptop in front of them. The difference I see at Panera (and now Panera Cares) is that community conversations are more likely and often to occur here.

Is there a vision you see for your place of business that transcends the traditional setting people expect of it in a unique way?

How is this baked into your brand?

Again, Panera Cares doesn’t feel like a special case outside of the Panera brand but more of something natural to do for the community. Part of that to me is due to the fact that nothing here is sacrificed or stripped down from what people have come to appreciate about Panera.

“We said if we were going to do this and put the Panera name on it, we were going to keep all the good stuff and leave nothing out,” Shaich says. “The whole menu would have to stay as is. There’s no abbreviated version.”

There’s also no altered version of the environment. For all intents and purposes, the soul of the Panera brand looks and feels the same but with an even more amplified mission behind it.

Without sacrificing anything that your customers have come to know and love about you, how can your business model flow into a natural community benefit?

 

Do customers clearly understand your mission?

Since Panera Cares is different from the traditional restaurant concept, Shaich recognized that people would need to understand how the payment system works and the overall “big picture” of what Panera Cares is aiming to accomplish. That’s why every Panera Cares also features an employee “ambassador” stationed at the front of the customer line who explains the pay-by-donation method and other customer questions. Had Panera Cares not had this, you can imagine how it might create a bottleneck of questions once each person arrived to pay and make for a frustrating experience. With one simple addition, that challenge is largely solved.

Don’t just expect a creative business model to tell your story for you. How can you help customers down the tracks with greater clarity so they get where you’re trying to go?

Where is your “ambassador” stationed within your brand to explain your model’s purpose? Is it a physical presence like this one or an online one? Consider how essential that might be, especially as you’re trying to turn customers into advocates.

 

What discussion are you elevating?

The distinction here is elevating a discussion, not trying to deliver a solution to the world’s problems. “(Panera Cares) isn’t about solving the hunger issue or solving poverty,” Shaich says. “It’s about food insecurity. Food insecurity happens when people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from or how to pay for it.

Shaich says that 1 in 6 Americans have experienced food insecurity in the last year. But while the assumption by some may be that these people are largely homeless, it’s actually a small percentage of the overall amount. In fact, of the people who do experience food insecurity, 1 in 3 are college educated.

What is the issue that you’re trying to elevate for greater awareness in the community? And rather than trying to singlehandedly eradicate a problem on your own, how is your brand involving that community – offline and online – so you can work on it together?

Get everyone involved from the top down

When he opened the first Panera Cares, Shaich didn’t just tell someone to report back to him how the business was going. He worked there for the first few weeks just like other employees. In the process, he got to not only see how well the system was working firsthand but also how customers were responding to the new concept.

A great idea on paper can have hiccups in reality. So for internal and external customers, it’s vital for management to get out from behind the desk, out of the office and into the “trenches” with employees so you can see what’s working and what needs to be tweaked. Not to mention it provides a greater perspective on the impact of the brand.

 

Be transparent

As Shaich explains, “If people feel like they’re being gamed, they’ll reject it. So it’s about transparency, not taking advantage of people in some way. It’s about showing people how to pay it forward.”

Don’t present something as a gift for the community and have motives that community isn’t aware about. Put it all out there and be clear about what you’re taking in from the effort financially. Lack of transparency clouds the message of your true purpose and becomes a competing factor you don’t need.

 

Don’t just give a handout. 

Panera Cares may appear like a gift to the community but the community also has to sustain it. There’s still a business to be run with real costs. But anything Panera Cares generates in excess of covering its operating expenses is given back to the community in training at-risk kids. “We work with social services to give kids the life and work skills they need, promising them a job when they get done,” Shaich says. Panera Cares has put dozens of young people through this program.

Plus, while you don’t have to leave any money if you can’t afford a Panera Cares item, they do ask that if you do that regularly that you volunteer your time with them. So there’s real training for someone’s benefit, not mere goodwill gestures.

Remember, you’re not running a charity. You’re running a community-based business model. So while you’re giving, don’t be afraid to express the expectations you have of your customers in return.

Maybe if this economy of ours is going to continue to recover with the help of healthier corporations, the answer won’t just come from increased hiring but also from a whole new business model that benefits the community and brand alike in a way that’s also quite profitable. It’s not a big departure but as a natural evolution of what the brand stands for. I like what Panera’s doing with Panera Cares toward that end. I’d love to know others who have bright ideas like this too.