Doing Business “Because It Is The Right Thing To Do”

enlightened organizations: global trends: inspiration: best practices

Everyone Eats
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Denise Cerreta’s business model at One World Everyone Eats is more about giving of herself and her business -than taking. She says when she told her first customer, “Just pay me what you think the meal is worth… it was like my heart expanded and I realized my true purpose in life.” (epiphany – wikipedia)

Five years ago, Denise awoke with a new awareness that the patients she had been treating in her acupuncture clinic…“were not sick, they were lonely.” That revelation prompted her to open a daring and innovative restaurant in Salt Lake City.


At One World Everybody Eats cafe there is no set menu, no set prices. Patrons pay what they think the meal is worth, choose the size of portions they want (refills are welcome)-it is waste that is discouraged. Those who cannot pay are allowed to volunteer at the cafe or organic garden to pay for their meals.

Denise has set up guidelines for others who may want to establish this model of restaurant, and entrepreneurs in Denver, Colorado and Mosab, Utah have followed suit, with discussions now underway for similar restaurants in Durham, North Carolina and San Francisco for 2009.

…the benefits of the free market should accrue not just to individuals but to society as a whole.” – Adam Smith, “Wealth of Nations”


Can this approach to business also turn a profit, or even be considered a successful venture? Well, without previous knowledge of the incredibly competitive food industry, Denise Cerreta has operated her business for 5 years, something of a record in the restaurant industry, especially in difficult economic times. She is currently experiencing some financial challenges which she attributes to her lack of management experience. As the business prospered and grew, she found she was lacking administrative skills-a situation she is not giving up on, and has yet to close her doors.  Detractors of the no pricing, no menu concept point to its folly, as the underlying cause for the current problems.


In a recent conversation with Todd Smith, photographer, he told me of a similar approach he used when he was first establishing his photography business in Virginia.  After seeing the dismay experienced by brides with the ever-mounting prices quoted for the photography for their weddings by other photographers, he decided to set a few package deals at varying prices.  Once the package was agreed upon, he felt free to practice his craft in any way he chose, providing the best possible memories for the wedding couple and spending his energy on what he loved most about his business. His generosity in going beyond the tight confines of what was laid out in the pricing structure, spilled over to the caterers and other service providers, giving them free CDs so they, too, could have a record of their work. “My business flourished by giving away,” said Todd.

Blaine Watson, Ayurvedic astrologist also has a “pay what you think it is worth and what you can afford” model for his Astrological readings, a model that has served to attract 30,000 clients world wide.

Gary Scotts daughter who owns an acting school franchise in London, England has, on average,more of her students in West End plays… her secret? “This is very simple.  I give the children who have extra talent free lessons. I bring them to my home and work with them there.”


It is to be expected there will be detractors for any business model that does not conform to a capitalistic, profit-driven model. For this approach to succeed, the owners, as well as the clients, will be those who live outside of judgment and evaluation.  You cannot ask someone to “pay what they think it is worth” and then say, “Is that all you think it is worth?”. There are two sides to this… “what is it worth to me”... and “what can I afford.” To use this model, you are someone who has decided the rewards from your business are not only monetary but they are largely from making an important contribution. The flow of money is an expression of appreciation.


Businesses that will survive the next 5 years will be those who are flexible in their terms and relationships with their clients.  You do it because it is the right thing to do. My grandfather was a millwright, welder and carpenter, who, during the Great Depression, acquired goats, a cow and a calf, meat, chickens, wood for heating, wheat which he had milled into flour, and fresh fish, all as payment for his services to keep much-needed farm equipment and other machinery operational.

“Pay what you can afford”… maybe not be a unique idea… but it certainly is one that reflects the right we all have to basic services and the essentials for life… One World Everyone Eats...and all of society benefits.

…the traditional profit-for-profit’s sake isn’t just flawed but, “based on greed, hatred and delusion”. – Lloyd Field, “Business and the Buddha”


If you know a company that is making a Mindshift towards serving humanity while still turning a profit, we would like to know about them. Let us know by contacting:: or leave the information in the comments section of this post.

Organizational Behaviour Consultant
author: Imagine Your Soul Abudant: Attracting Success, Fulfillment and True Happiness
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Judy’s book can be ordered from her website  Special prices for bulk orders upon request. Seminars and retreats customized to the needs of your group or organization.

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2 Responses to “Doing Business “Because It Is The Right Thing To Do””

  1. James Irvin Says:

    As the economic difficulties deepen we will have to embrace the past practices of helping each other. This "pay it forward " attitude change is one benefit that comes out of this adversity. Excellent discussion.

  2. dvanamburg Says:

    James, you are so accurate in your comment. We all become used to a big brother taking care of us, and too often lose our understanding that we are our brother's keeper. Thanks.

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