Scott Gittrich, founder and CEO of Toppers Pizza, shares his thoughts on life, leadership and pizza.
I saw that on a bumper sticker this morning: People over Profits. Is that really a choice that we have to make? What if that thing said “People over Music” or “People over Education”? I think the average person would read those and immediately think what I thought: the premise is just wrong. If I really had to choose People or Music, Education, or Profit, I would choose people. Thankfully I can choose them all!
I get it. The owner of that car wasn’t really making a logical, intellectual argument. She was really using a sound byte to disparage businesses, business people, and all of those good people that proudly work in healthy, profitable businesses!
How and when did profit get a bad rap? In the most simple of terms, profit is what’s left over in a business when you spend less than you were given by your customers. How is spending less than you have a bad thing? I’m serious, when did it become greedy and hateful to live within your means?
I’m so very proud of the profitable business I own. A business is not a building, or a logo, or a recipe, or a bank account. A business is a group of people working together to serve their fellow man something that they want. If they are able to do so while spending less than they are given, then they are a healthy business and have temporarily earned the right to continue to work together another day! Unlike government, businesses can’t forcibly extort money from their neighbors in order to keep running their businesses at a perpetual deficit! We profit or we close.
When I started Toppers Pizza, of course I hoped that it would be financially successful and would prosper. But truthfully, what I dared to dream was that it would be a very special place to work. I imagined a day that passionate, driven people with integrity would be drawn to what we were doing; that they also would be able to follow their dreams and hopes at Toppers, whatever those hopes and dreams were. That may sound goofy or even like a lie to people who expect the worst of me simply because I own a business, but it is the truth, and I put my reputation with the people I work with today and have worked with ever in my life up to that scrutiny.
People that pursue their passions and serve their neighbors in healthy vital businesses are good people! Anyone that says differently has been sold a lie themselves and should scrutinize the motivations of those that are selling that lie. Of course there are some bad people anywhere you look. There are plenty of bad churches, schools, governments and charities that are being run by a person or people that put their own self interests ahead of people. Those are bad people. It doesn’t mean that churches, schools, governments and charities are bad!
TV shows popularize chefs that yell or rich bosses (and presidential candidates) that call people into an extravagant boardroom to announce “you’re fired” to a crying apprentice. Of course there are bad businesses being run by bad people that put their own self interests ahead of people. I am here to tell you that those are rare! I truly believe that. I have known hundreds of business owners, thousands of business people, and tens of thousands of people that work in businesses. I have been blessed to have learned from many fabulous business people, and am still learning today from peers and people that I admire from afar. Read what business people are reading. Where is all the “screw people and get yours” literature? I’m not seeing it. Based on the business literature of the last several decades, taking care of people and building a fabulous, diverse, and caring organization IS THE KEY TO A HEALTHY PROFITABLE BUSINESS!
I especially care about this because somehow this has become a political issue. I suspect the person with the bumper sticker was, in fact, making some sort of political statement. It hurts me, as I’m sure you can tell, that powerful, influential people would try to convince others that I am a bad human being simply because I am a good business person. I’m not looking for any sympathy; I AM very blessed. I’m also not saying I’m perfect; I AM flawed, but doing my best. I simply challenge you to think beyond the bumper sticker!
Profit for the People!