The Make Meaning Hour is an opportunity to gather with like-minded peers and delve into concepts of meaning and purpose, around work and life. Especially as we endure the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these sessions stimulate conversation and exploration about the work we do, how we live our lives, and what drives decisions and builds successful outcomes. 

Learn More

Make Meaning Hour: Introductory Session

April 2020

Make Meaning Hour: Why We Work

May 2020

Make Meaning Hour: The Meaning of Money

May 2020
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This week, Paul Saginaw opens Saginaw’s, a food venture in Las Vegas that has long been a dream of his. In honor of this momentous occasion, we launch the Make Meaning blog by sharing the story of one of the people who inspired the podcast, and one of our very first guests: Paul Saginaw.

Listen to the original interview here

When Lynne Golodner invited Paul Saginaw to be one of her first guests on the Make Meaning Podcast, she did it for three reasons:

He said yes without delay, despite the fact that Lynne hadn’t even launched the podcast. For all he knew, he’d be speaking to dead air, and he didn’t care.

He’s that kind of guy.

As co-founder of Zingerman’s, Paul Saginaw and his founding partner Ari Weinzweig embedded mentorship into their entrepreneurial venture early on. Nearly 40 years later, they have taken meaningful mentorship to an entirely new level.  

Paul and Ari built Zingerman’s, a family of food-related companies in Ann Arbor, Mich., around the idea of lifting up others along their entrepreneurial journey.

Early on, Paul saw a need to do things differently. He let his desire for others to succeed inform his decision-making and leadership style. He says first he had to solve a problem that is common for many startups with great culture.

No one wanted to leave.

“If you were working for us and you wanted to grow,  professionally or financially, there wasn’t a lot of room,” he said. “We were young, and it was a nice place to work. There was almost no turnover at the leadership level.”

So how do you help an employee grow if there’s no higher position to shoot for? How do you create structure built on meaning rather than profit?

“We liked being owners, so we provided the opportunity for ownership to folks that worked for us.”

He wanted to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit at Zingerman’s and assist the next generation of creative thinkers and bar-raisers. So he created a way to expand the Zingerman’s brand while helping employees attain their dreams.

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“We would be suppliers and customers of each other,” he says. “And that’s what we did.”

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Lynne Golodner and Paul Saginaw in the podcast studio May 15, 2018.

How that played out was an interesting journey that Lynne Golodner was lucky enough to dip into as she was brainstorming ideas for a new business of her own in 2007 (which ended up being her PR/Marketing business, Your People LLC).

Paul created the e-club, a free entrepreneurs club for aspiring Zingerman’s employees. In 2007, he invited Lynne to attend. During six sessions, Paul taught participants the building blocks of starting a business.

He invited lawyers, accountants and insurance agents. Paul discussed the importance of vision and planning.

This strategy helped Zingerman’s become what it is today – a Community of Businesses with more than 10 companies.

Creating this model was not only a departure from traditional styles of mentorship and business. It had literally never been done before.

“There certainly wasn’t any model for us,” he said on the Make Meaning podcast.

Mentorships can shape careers and change lives.

As Paul says:, “We wanted the people that work for us to be able to afford to live in the community, to raise families, to have a good life. All of that required dynamic growth.”

Paul Saginaw On The Power Of Mentorship

October 2020
Picture Of Barbara Jones

There is power in your voice. There is meaning in your story.

This is something that Barbara Jones understands. As Executive Editor at Henry Holt Publishers in New York and a decades-long friend and mentor to Lynne Golodner, Barbara has infused her professional career with meaning and purpose by sharing one story at a time.

This line of work is “inherently meaningful,” Barbara said, as a guest on the second ever episode of the Make Meaning Podcast.

A Story Can Change The World

Stories can transcend time, space and emotion. They can help us learn fundamental truths about ourselves and sympathize with people who are nothing like us.

As a young girl battling a bout of illness, Barbara devoured a stack of New Yorker magazines. That was where she discovered her love for reading.

It was that moment that solidified her love for literature. As she flipped through the pages, Barbara became transfixed by what she was reading. She loved that through a main character who was male and adulterous, she could relate – even as a teenage girl – because of how well the writer created the character, and the scene. 

She realized that universal subject matter – the fundamental human truths of “inner conflict, the complicated relationships of family, holding love and loss together in one moment” – are stories for her, and so many others.

Helping Others Share Their Story

Barbara has built a professional life by bringing voices to the public sphere, creating impact and giving outlets for marginalized voices. She creates platforms for authors to share truths. She makes space at the collective table.

“This is a really rich time of language by previously marginalized voices,” she  said on the Make Meaning podcast. “It’s not just telling a story; it’s telling a story with an enriched vocabulary. It’s thrilling.”

Communities that once had a ‘private language’ are now part of the mainstream. Says Barbara, “the private language and the language of literature are flowing together into a great and exciting sea of language.”

Reading Is An Act Of Empathy

Barbara Diversity Quote

There is no shortage of talented new queer, BIPOC and native authors starting important conversations, discussing perspectives, encouraging empathy. By publishing their stories, authors invite readers into their lives, to see through their eyes, and to find similarities where once we thought lived only differences.

Barbara believes that reading is fundamentally an act of empathy.

By searching for the next great story, she makes meaning and impacts the lives of many. People are finally seeing a reflection of their lives and their experiences. All people.

“It’s an exciting time,” Barbara says. New groups of people are entering the literary world. The more voices and the more stories we have to share, the better we become as a society.

Over the course of nearly a dozen years in book publishing, Barbara has edited such authors as civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King, Paul Auster, Pulitzer Prize finalist Susan Choi, Sebastian Faulks and NPR Best Book winner Lillian Li.

The Importance Of Telling Your Story: A Conversation with Barbara Jones

November 2020
How To Create A Meaningful Business
Paul Saginaw-SoundCloud banner

Is there a blueprint for meaningful success? Not exactly. Successful entrepreneurs like Lynne Golodner, the founder of Your People and host of the Make Meaning Podcast, and Paul Saginaw, the co-founder of Zingerman’s, did not follow a specific path to get to where they are today.

However, both faced tough decisions and asked some important questions before even beginning their entrepreneurial journeys.

If you want to create a successful and meaningful business, take some time to find answers to these questions…

1. What are you going to do, and why do you want to do it?

On the Make Meaning Podcast with Lynne Golodner, Paul emphasized the importance of having a clear vision and understanding key differences between vision and strategy.

“The vision is not the strategy,” Paul said. “The vision is what you’re going to do and why you want to do it. The strategy of how you’re going to do it comes later.”

The Vision Behind Your People

Paul Saginaw Vision Quote

When Lynne started her marketing and public relations company, Your People LLC, in 2007, she knew she wanted to focus on purpose and story. Her vision fueled business growth.

As a small but mighty PR firm, Your People, has revolutionized the way organizations build brand awareness and grow their bottom line through storytelling, relationships, and higher purpose.

Learn more about Your People here

Without a clear and meaningful vision, strategy falls apart. According to Paul, the most successful strategies are informed by vision. Think of vision as your north star; it will point you in the direction you need to go.

2. Who are you working with, and do you have a shared vision?

Are you starting an entrepreneurial journey with a partner? According to Paul, who co-founded Zingerman’s with Ari Weinzweig, it’s imperative to be on the same page .

“A lot of organizations have disagreement among the leadership,” Paul said on the Make Meaning Podcast.  “They think they’re arguing about strategy but really, they’re arguing because they don’t have a shared vision.”

Crafting a solid vision is important, as is making sure everyone is aligned with that vision. A business won’t progress if partners are not looking in the same direction.

3. What type of organization do you want?

Paul advises potential entrepreneurs to become clear on the type of organization they want. Company culture can make or break a start-up.

Zingerman’s began with, and continued, a people-first culture, which has been a key to its success. Paul advised listeners of the Make Meaning Podcast: “If you can describe that culture, you can have a written set of guiding principles and they are very powerful. They’re going to attract the type of people to your organization that you want.”

Paul went on to say that creating a clear company culture and sticking to the promises that come from it builds trust with employees. Failing to follow through on a company’s promise can “build internal chaos,” Lynne  noted.

4. How will you make a meaningful impact?

With a meaning-first approach to marketing, businesses must use their purpose and vision to impact the community at-large. A business without concern for the greater good does not last long. So, entrepreneurs must ask themselves:

  • How will you make a meaningful impact?
  • How will you impact your employees?
  • Your clients?
  • Your community?
  • How will you make the world better through your product or service?

Lynne leads with purpose at Your People. Her business is centered around helping businesses find their purpose and voice. Compassion mixed with her marketing savvy has allowed Your People to uplift clients and tell compelling stories that build their reach and increase revenues.

For Paul, it was mentoring employees (and others) that grew Zingerman’s – and his personal mission. Zingerman’s expanded over more than three decades to become a Community of Businesses – solely through a belief in mentoring and encouraging others to go for their dreams

Ask, what’s your why? Why do you do what you do? Why does your work matter?

5. How do you define meaningful success?

Your People was born at a time when the economy was spiraling downward and Lynne Golodner was becoming a single mother of three young children. Your People helped people find meaning and direction in a new marketplace. The company’s success helped others find their meaning and message.

Paul Saginaw focused on impacting community and individuals. His innovative company design found meaningful success by allowing employees to start new businesses, in partnership with Zingerman’s. By believing there was enough success to go around – and infinite amount of success, to be certain – Paul multiplied the goodwill and expansiveness that he lives by.

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Lynne Golodner with Paul Saginaw at the recording studio

As a founder of Food Gatherers, a food insecurity organization in Washtenaw County, Michigan, he also modeled giving back and supporting the community through his success.

He told the Make Meaning Podcast that “giving back was not something that we were going to do once we became successful; giving back was part of the cost of doing business. Just like paying rent, insurance, utilities .”

Meaningful success requires a conscious effort to weave the meaningful into the mundane, a greater purpose than just making money into the vision and strategy of your business.

Paul Saginaw’s 5 Important Questions To Ask to Start A Meaningful Business

November 2020

The Same Feelings from 2008 Resurface in 2020 – How to Move Forward with Meaning

While the economic recession of 2008 and the 2020 COVID-19 crisis have very different origins, the consequences are extremely similar.

Loss of jobs, loss of livelihoods and loss of certainty.

Lynne Golodner remembers this feeling well. Lynne became a single mother of three young children at the onset of one of the worst financial crises in modern history, generating extreme uncertainty and unbridled fear.

It’s exactly how many millennials and Gen Z-ers feel today.

With the need to figure out a way to support her children, Lynne parlayed her journalistic skills into an entrepreneurial role as Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Your People LLC, providing companies and nonprofits with communications support.

During an unprecedented time in our nation’s – and the world’s – history, Lynne created a new kind of public relations/marketing company focused on the purpose and story of an organization. In doing so, she was able to provide for her children and make a meaningful impact.

Lynne speaking to the Michigan Association of Female Entrepreneurs in 2008.

The 2008 Financial Crisis

The year 2007 was “a perfect storm,” Lynne recalls. “Not only was the economy spiraling downward, the housing market was devastated, and I was getting divorced.”

With three young children – ages  1, 3, and 5 when she filed for divorce – Lynne had been a freelance journalist for a decade. Many magazines and newspapers were shuttering or no longer had freelance budgets, and her soon-to-be ex-husband was a professional musician, so there was no safety net.

“I feared I would lose the house and be out on the street. It was terrifying,” she recalls.

Building A Company During A Recession

With no other option, Lynne pushed through the fear and uncertainty. Innovation was key for continuing to work for herself and raise her children.

Lynne started Your People in 2007, amid constant doubt and fear. Even as she pressed forward and gained clients and expertise, those fears and doubts did not dissipate – not for a long while. She persevered through despite nagging thoughts of what-if.

As a single mother, she knew her new venture must succeed. There was no other option – other than moving in with her parents.

Learn more about Your People here

The COVID-19 Crisis

Twelve years later, those familiar fearful feelings about what will happen next plague a whole new generation of Americans in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the highest unemployment rates in the United States since the Great Depression. Many people are asking themselves the same questions that Lynne pondered in 2007.

Dealing With Job Loss

“My first reaction to losing my job to COVID-19 was panic.” says Kaitlin Watson a 23-year-old in Los Angeles. “When it happened abruptly, I felt so lost.”

Like Lynne, Kaitlin had to figure out a way to support herself and pay off student loans, but the sudden job loss gave her a new perspective. Kaitlin took time to assess what she wanted.

“Leaning into my more creative passions instead of shying away from them for a job that paid more gave me a sense of purpose.” She was able to parlay her writing talents and pitch herself as a columnist to Flique Editorial, where she now writes a biweekly dating column.

During times when fear abounds, it’s normal and healthy to search for solid ground. It’s also OK to yearn for meaning and turn the sudden change into a pivotal moment.

More and more, people are looking for purpose along with prosperity – despite problems caused by the pandemic.

Annalise Froelich was a recent graduate from University of Pennsylvania with an exciting job opportunity lined up, when the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

“Losing my dream job and facing career uncertainty amidst global uncertainty was terrifying,” she says. “I was not confident that the job market would have a place for me.”

Annalise took a step back to survey her options. “It felt like there was a global pause, so I paused to think about what I really wanted, too.”

When her dream employer circled back with a new offer, she was ready for it and this time, she could confidently say it was what she wanted.

“Most graduates rush to take the first job they find, but COVID-19 gave me time to make sure that this job was going to make me happy and give me meaning,” she says.

Annalise Froelich

Annalise Froelich, a recent University of Pennsylvania Graduate

Uncertainty: Then and Now

Uncertainty can cause fear to spike, making it hard to find the good in unprecedented times.  Taking a step back and searching for meaning can lead you to new places that you never would have discovered. 

 “Not being able to see the end of the tunnel means we’re groping in the dark,” says Lynne. “But the tunnel always ends, and there is always light at the end.

The Make Meaning Podcast

Now, more than ever, people are searching to find meaning and purpose in both their professional and personal lives. During these unprecedented times the desire to evaluate our own lives has never been stronger.

What does it actually look like to live a purpose-driven life? How do we find meaning in our careers? How do we create meaning in our day-to-day life?

The Make Meaning Podcast, with host Lynne Golodner, ponders these questions in conversation with educators, authors, entrepreneurs and leaders of some of the most inspiring, purpose-driven organizations in the world.

Join Lynne and the Make Meaning Movement with her expertise, curiosity and passion, offering a podcast, consulting workshops and retreats that invite like-minded individuals and organizations to learn how to best prioritize strategic storytelling and mutually beneficial relationships, driven by higher purpose.

Is 2020 the Year of Perfect Vision?

December 2020
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Your People created a Waldorf Marketing Immersion Course to teach Waldorf/Steiner school personnel how to market their schools to grow enrollment. There are two offered in 2021, with the first beginning January 11, 2021. Click here to register.

Education must be more than just learning in the head, according to Stephen Payne. As a guest on the 24th episode of the Make Meaning Podcast, he sat down to speak with Lynne Golodner about the importance of nature and education.

We also need to focus on “the ability to do,” says the resident farmer and garden teacher at Sacramento Waldorf School.

In modern society, most of us spend little time outdoors in nature. For children, especially during the current global pandemic, home life and school largely happen indoors. 

However, time in nature is essential to child development and an important touchstone lost by many education systems. The good news is that some schools are finding ways to reconnect learning with the natural world and seeing amazing results. Among these outdoor-thinking schools are a global network of more than 1,000 Waldorf schools.

** Lynne Golodner and Your People LLC have worked with Waldorf schools for the past seven years, guiding their marketing and public relations through meaningful messaging and rich relationships. Check out some examples here, here and here. ** 

What Makes A Waldorf Education Special?

Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf education is based on the teachings outlined by artist and scientist, Rudolf Steiner.

“The family were getting further away from living close to the land,” Stephen said on the podcast. “Steiner was recognizing that with the industrial revolution and the increase in population of urban settings, we were beginning to lose opportunities and experiences of teaching how to do things” by connecting with the land.

Steven Payne Nature Quote

Waldorf pedagogy is designed to promote universal human values, educational pluralism and meaningful teaching and learning.

Sacramento Waldorf School, where Stephen has been resident farmer for more than a decade, sprawls across a 22-acre campus that connects students with nature every day. It borders the American River and includes a 3.5-acre farm that is embedded in the curriculum.

That’s Stephen Payne’s world. Students know him as “Farmer Steve,”  and he teaches all grade levels about the farm’s complex ecosystem and the intricacies of farming. The curriculum relates to the developmental stage of the children. Because of this, they take on tasks that align with what their bodies, minds, and souls need to learn at each phase of childhood.

With more than two decades of experience in organic farming, Stephen understands the value of working with his hands. “Students experience plenty of indoor classroom time but also plenty of time in the arts and using their hands and tools.”

Above all, Waldorf schools seek to build confidence, connection and purpose. Stephen says that can be found at the intersection of nature and learning.

Learning is “a natural part of just being human and growing up and surviving on this earth,” he said.

How Leaning In Nature Strengthens Your “Inner Voice”

As a result of working together in nature, students gain a sense of purpose, ownership and self. They learn how to listen to their “inner voice.”

 “That inner voice is what propels us to activity,” Stephen says. “Through experiences on the farm, with tools and nature, children become more familiar with hearing their own inner drives, their own motivations.”

Stephen Payne Learning Quote

To help his students find their inner voice, Stephen often asks, “Do you listen to your intuition? Do you listen to what you have to share with yourself? Because that is the beginning of problem-solving skills.”

The reason Lynne Golodner and Your People have worked for so long with Waldorf schools is because of the importance these schools embody, making sure students are “not put in a box and are seen for who they are.”

On the podcast, she said to Stephen, “The beauty of a Waldorf education is that you can’t be anonymous. You are seen, you are heard, you matter.

How can a school market with meaning?

  • Articulate your powerful story, usually guided by details of its founding and outcomes among students. Use this story as the anchor content to promote the school.
  • Think about who needs to hear your story, and build real relationships with those people. That’s the first step toward growing enrollment.
  • Understand that communication channels should be two-way and offer mutual benefit. Even with social media, it can’t just be blasting out your own importance.
  • Align school marketing with its core values. If they have not yet been outlined, now is a great time to establish what matters to your school and let that guide your marketing!

Stephen describes ‘inner voice’ as “Being able to attach your emotional life to your work.”

Waldorf schools understand the importance of developing this inner voice early on. Just as Your People understands how important it is to utilize this skill in marketing efforts.

By focusing on purpose and story, we can revolutionize how organizations build awareness and establish their presence in the world – with meaning, driven by mission, and in pursuit of purpose.

Many Waldorf schools are challenged with marketing, uncertain how to identify, reach and connect with families who are likely to be receptive. The key to marketing Waldorf is helping people understand what Waldorf is and how its unparalleled approach builds confidence, strength and academic-artistic synergy.

Your People’s 2-month marketing immersion will empower your staff to understand and implement purposeful marketing activities that will connect your school with prospective families and grow your enrollment.

Nature Is Essential To Learning: A Conversation with Stephen Payne

December 2020

Is There Enough Time For Every Journey?

650,000 hours. That’s the average length of a human life span and the title of a website and newsletter launched by author, columnist, former AARP editor, and guest on the 56th Episode of the Make Meaning Podcast, Ken Budd

Lynne knew Ken from her journalism days, as an editor at AARP for whom she wrote several articles. They stayed connected for years on social media, and when Ken launched his newsletter titled 650,000 Hours, Lynne invited him on the show to learn more about this purpose-driven endeavor.

Ken has volunteered around the world, from China to Kenya to the West Bank—conducting a search for meaning and purpose in the wake of his father’s passing in 2005. He shared his journey in an award-winning memoir, The Voluntourist

When speaking with Lynne Golodner on the Make Meaning Podcast, he opened up about the unexpected tragedy that caused him to change direction.

“My father had died, and it was a real shock,” he told Lynne. “My dad was a special guy. When he died, I started getting letters from people who had worked with him saying how my father had changed their life.”

The tragic loss of his father caused Ken to rethink his life, his career, and his purpose, so when an opportunity arose for a change, his journey began.

“I received an email about volunteering in New Orleans, about nine months after Hurricane Katrina. And, I was like, yes, I’m going to do this,” he recalled.

Making A Difference While Traveling

“Voluntourism” is the merging of volunteering and tourism – the growing trend of people travelling to do some good in other communities. As our world continues to get smaller, and the problems that people face every day around the world seem to get bigger, more people are searching for fulfillment at the intersection of volunteering and traveling.

Ken’s fateful first trip to New Orleans mixed service and travel and started his journey toward a path of “voluntourism” aka volunteer tourism. 

Ken Budd working with a child in China

He told Lynne on the podcast, that while most of us aren’t Bill Gates and can’t donate millions of dollars to a cause, “there’s a power in small gestures. You make a difference just by showing up.”

Another journey took Ken to Costa Rica to teach English. Another trip sent him to China to work with children with special needs, and later, he traveled to Ecuador to study climate change. At one point, Ken cared for orphans in Kenya. 

New Lessons On Every Journey

Each destination brings new clarity, new meaning and new connections.

“You think you’re going for this one thing, but there’s actually this intangible thing that’s happening and people are learning about each other,” he says.

On every journey, Ken connects to the people he works with in a deep and intimate way.

“That human connection feels really important at a time when we’re so digitally connected, but  more alone in real life,” he notes.

The Universal Language Of A Smile

Wherever in the world he goes, Ken has found one thing to be absolutely universal – a smile.

A simple gesture, a smile has immense importance; Ken believes when a stranger smiles at you, it makes you feel recognized and important. “Just by looking at and acknowledging people, you have impact,” he says.

Ken believes the smallest gestures are the ones that have the greatest impact over time. “Small gestures taken together become large gestures,” Ken said.

Ken Budd with his English class in Costa Rica

How Volunteering Abroad Helps Your Home

In all his world travels, however, Ken never forgets his home of Burke, Virginia. Ironically, by traveling and volunteering, Ken finds even more meaning at home.

“The world shrinks when you do this,” he says. “I feel more connected to my home, but I also feel more connected to the world.”

Ken’s travels have allowed him to meditate on his legacy. Life-changing experiences caused him to think about his own life and how he is using his time on earth.

Are You Making the Most of Your 650,000 Hours?

On the road, Ken met a woman who was focused on a key point in Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History Of Nearly Everything.

On the podcast, Ken explained: “On the second page, he says the average human life lasts about 650,000 hours. This woman read it and thought, ‘What am I doing with my 650,000 hours?’ She said she was in a meeting at work and looked around the room and said, ‘Why am I giving you people one of my hours?’”

The idea of critically examining our time on earth stayed with Ken. It even inspired  the title of his digital magazine, 650,000 hours. Each issue shares the inspiring stories and personal journeys of real-life heroes who are finding purpose and meaning in small but powerful ways.

Once his life led him in a completely new direction, Ken focused on how he can maximize his time sharing the meaning that he finds through his writing, exploring, and connecting.

As we all search for meaning, either at home or abroad, it’s clear that meaning comes from our connections and how we treat people. Ken believes we can all make a meaningful difference with our actions – no matter how small they may seem.

How A Big Life Change Sent Ken Budd On A Journey To Find Purpose

January 2021

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Make Meaning Blog review

January 2021