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Mindful : December 2013
This Bread is Priceless With 1,700 locations across the country, bakery-cafe Panera Bread is one of the biggest restaurant success stories of the past decade. But CEO Ron Shaich says it’s the company’s five Panera Cares outlets—the pay-what-you- can cafes that provide job training for at-risk youth— that give added meaning to the for-profit business. The U.S . Department of Agriculture reports that one in six Americans struggles to afford food. When Shaich realized the extent of the problem, he was inspired to do something that went beyond simply donating to food banks. “There’s something about the physical experience of actually doing something to help that’s different from just writing a check,” he says. The first Panera Cares cafe opened in Clayton, Missouri, in 2010. It had everything you’d find in any Panera Bread—except the cash register. Instead, a donation box sat on the counter with a sign telling customers: “Take what you need, leave your fair share.” Customers could also donate an hour of work in lieu of payment. Four more cafes have opened since then. They’re operated by Panera’s nonprofit foundation, with the goal of each cafe generating enough donations to cover direct costs. Dozens of at-risk young people have graduated from the job-training program to paid positions at Panera Bread. Panera Cares has served more than a million custom- ers while navigating the challenges that come with such an unorthodox business model. It has taken a while to educate customers about pric- ing, and staff members who have experienced tough times themselves initially got upset when apparently well-off customers skimped on their donations. Shaich says his staff went through a lot of emotional ups and downs when they saw people who didn’t need the money take advantage of a good thing. But gradually peo- ple came to see that for every one who scammed the sys- tem, “ there were many more good people who touched you with their generosity.” According to Shaich’s records, on average, 60% of Panera Cares customers pay the suggested price, 20% pay more, and 20% pay less. ● HOW’S THE WEATHER? See if you can find something to enjoy about it even if it isn’t ideal. What’s the deal with “ideal” weather, anyway? Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter Office Space When it comes to work, a lot of us are not exactly satisfied these days. So says a Gallup repor t called State of the American Workplace, which sur veyed 150,000 full- and par t-time workers and found some staggering results: only 22% of those polled repor ted being engaged and thriv- ing in their workplace, while a whopping 70% identified themselves as either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Of course, there are always factors beyond our control: horrible bosses, diffi- cult coworkers, poorly organized work- places. But in a slow economy, leaving may not always be an option. “I think many people are feeling a lack of choice right now,” says Jeremy Hunter, who teaches in the MBA program at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management in Clare- mont, California. “Add to that, we’re living with the fallout of years of downsizing. One person is doing multiple jobs, which is creating a chronic level of stress.” So what’s the best way to make the most of your current situation? When it comes to stress of any kind, Hunter suggests mindfulness techniques to help improve things. Here are ways to get back in the driver’s seat when it comes toyour9to5: Skill #1: Learn how to watch your own emotional responses. We can change the way we deal with situations we don’t have control over. “Your organizational environ- ment may not be par ticularly healthy, but you can be,” Hunter says. Recognizing and acknowledging what you’re really dealing with at work is an impor tant first step. Skill #2: Learn to relax. When stress is hitting you daily, the idea of relaxation may seem impossible. “But taking time for yourself is absolutely key,” says Hunter. That doesn’t mean you have to take a three-week vacation. Stress relief is as close at hand as a few five-minute pauses throughout your day where you are quiet and reflective, just being in the moment. Skill #3: Take into account that if you’re stressed out at work, others in your orga- nization probably are as well. That doesn’t mean cut ting others more slack than you allow for yourself, but it does mean learning how to lower reactivity and raise respon- siveness. In stressful atmospheres things can escalate, but they don’t have to. Any of uscanopttobethefirsttodialitdown.● 70% of American employees polled say they’re “not engaged” at work Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich talks with an employee at the Panera Cares Cafe in Boston. PHOTOGRAPHBYDAVIDELMES 14 mindful December 2013 now OVERHEARD “There’s the very real danger that ‘succeeding’ will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended. Do the ambitious things... but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.” — Novelist George Saunders’ advice to the Syracuse University class of 2013