Reading Group

Reading Group


Small Business, Big Heart, by Paul Wesslund

Wednesdays at Noon, via Zoom
(scroll down to access the Zoom joining information)
September 23-October 21

Beginning September 23, our reading group will begin a discussion of Paul Wesslund’s Small Business, Big Heart, a book written about St. Paul members by a St. Paul member! Paul will also lead the discussion.

You can buy Small Business, Big Heart—How One Family Redefined the Bottom Line, at Carmichael’s, or link to Amazon at the “Buy Now” button at, where you can also read blogs about related topics.

A real-life story about how faith and compassion led to success in business, and in life
By Paul Wesslund

Three years ago I listened to Sal and Cindy Rubino talk to the Discovery Sunday School Class about their restaurant, The Café, and its practice of hiring refugees and people in addiction treatment. Two parts of their story started nagging at me.

One was that their unconventional hiring didn’t come from a desire to do good deeds—it was a business decision. They just found it the best way to get reliable and loyal workers. The other was that creating their successful restaurant was part of a rocky journey through life and spirituality. And they told about their St. Paul family helping them, from lending them a car when they were threatened with bankruptcy, to filling seats in their restaurant.

The storyteller in me saw unique twists in the tale they told. It also woke a belief I’ve had for years, that people are wrong when they say “Doing the right thing can be good business.” They’re wrong because doing the right thing IS good business—Sal and Cindy were living proof.

This could be a book, I thought.

I’ve never wanted to write a book. In my career I’ve been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and freelance writer. But I’d learned enough about book publishing to know it’s a highly specialized industry, and that a book is a major life commitment.

After a few months of mulling I e-mailed Sal that I thought their story could be a book. He replied that he agreed, but that they were not writers, so “I see your interest and reaching out to me as divine providence.”

Oh my.

I talked to colleagues and attended seminars to learn a new industry. I wore out two computer keyboards transcribing 80 interviews of 30 different people. I tried to learn about whole new worlds to me—inside restaurants, refugees fleeing foreign wars, addiction and recovery. I struggled to understand the stories of refugees through their heavy accents. I attended AA meetings and visited treatment centers. I had at least one panic attack as I was sure I could never finish this project.

I also felt guided. I felt I needed to tell the messages of Sal and Cindy’s story: treating others the way you would want to be treated; giving and getting second chances; living the same life at work, at home, and at church.

Now that I’ve written a book people ask me what’s next. I don’t know. For now, it’s enough to have a chance to focus attention on how the path to success at work and in life is through kindness and compassion.

  • Recording of September 30 session here.
  • Recording of October 14 session here.

Discussion questions for Chapters 1516.

Chapter 15The Discipline of Being Nice”

How do the strengths and weaknesses of Sal and Cindy play off each other? How do they affect their relationship and their lives? Two phrases used commonly by Sal and Cindy are “We treated employees the way we would want to be treated” and “It’s not about you.” Do these contradict each other. What do they mean to you?

Chapter 16Endings and Beginnings

With The Café, Sal and Cindy changed their business model.  Which changes did you think were most important to them on a personal and professional level, and why were they important? How would you describe Sal and Cindy’s business?  How would you describe their business acumen? As a couple, Sal and Cindy persevered and triumphed.  What would you say is their biggest win? What is Sal and Cindy’s most notable accomplishment?  Why? What do you think of as The Café’s legacy?

Topic: “Small Business, Big Heart” Reading Group
Time: Sep 23, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every week on Wed, until Oct 21, 2020, 5 occurrence(s)
Sep 23, 2020 12:00 PM
Sep 30, 2020 12:00 PM
Oct 7, 2020 12:00 PM
Oct 14, 2020 12:00 PM
Oct 21, 2020 12:00 PM
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