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Would you love to meet the brightest minds in your business? 

Who wouldn't?

Well, I just did.  Annually, we invite all of our franchisees and Great Harvest convention 2010 photoemployees to a conference where we deal in depth with a particular topic, do some networking and have a ton of fun.  This year we spent 3 days in Napa, CA studying how to make our stores more profitable in the face of an increasingly volatile commodity world and uncertain retail environment. 

Every year I come away amazed at how talented and insightful our bakery owners are.  I am truly blessed to be able to work with them and honored to have that privilege.  The energy they generate and the ideas they share are inspirational. 

We also have a chance to build and improve our sense of community.  There is one thing we do that is really cool.  Each year we take a portion of the revenue we generate at this event (it is not a profit center by any means...we charge some fees to offset costs) and award a scholarship to someone in the Great Harvest family (owner, owner immediate family member, bakery employee, franchise office employee) based upon a very non-traditional selection process. 

Great Harvest 2010 convention 2010Our specific goal is to award a scholarship to an interesting and meaningful applicant that falls outside of traditional scholarship channels.  We look for passion, vision, and people that have limited traditional funding means available.  We look for people giving back that have a need.  People that make a sacrifice (social worker or teacher or artist or national park ranger) have a greater need than an investment banker.  People a touch out of the mainstream are more interesting, in this context, than people taking a traditional education path.  We like people that do things a little bit different and we want to help them stay a little bit on the edge.  This helps keep us connected with a fun part of life.

Writing things like this feels gratuitous or as if I am the kid screaming "look at me!"  That is not my intention.  We think connecting with your community in ways like this makes the world a better place to live and hope to set a good example for others.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any fun community stories to share with us?

I am Mike Ferretti, the Chairman and CEO of Great Harvest. But, I am also a dad who grew up in a world with old fashioned business ethics. Before Great Harvest, I thought those days and companies were gone. Luckily, I now get to work with a group with a strong moral compass that genuinely lives "Give generously to others" and "Run fast to serve customers." And we do it with more than just lip service in a way that allows us to set an example for others. I am proud that my kids are proud of what I do for a living.