ALERT!!! Amazon has a wonderfully low price on all versions of the Outstanding! book here!

ithaca, small business, manager training, management

Backbone of America

I ran into a gal I graduated with from high school in 1976. Though I’m not very relational and don’t spend a lot of my time “visiting folks,” I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her.

This get-together wasn’t tons of fun for me just because it was a blast from the past. It was the person—Maria Cacciotti Salino—who made it special.

She’s an impressive person. Some would call Maria “the backbone of America.”


Because just a few short years ago, she started Dolce Delight—a fine bakery/eatery three miles south of Ithaca, New York where my wife, Karen, and I grew up.

At Dolce, Maria employs about 15 people.


Dolce Delight would be the definition of a “small business”—America’s backbone. And because of her strong drive, high energy, willingness to take a risk, talent in the kitchen, and an upbeat, positive personality—Maria did build that business.

She also started up the pizzeria next door. In both shops, she’s serving her constituents comprised of customers, staff, suppliers, and, of course, her family.

Speaking of family, Dolce is closed on Sundays. Smart move. Maria and Team need a day of rest. God did. ?

Fast Fact: Did you know on some mornings, Dolce uses 300 eggs? And since Maria doesn’t have a chicken coop out back—at least not yet—those eggs have to be purchased from someone. That consumption adds value to her community and that is … eggciting!

I can’t imagine managing inventory in the food business, but this sharp leader does it and does it well.

Maria is Outstanding!

Maria and what’s she accomplishing can all be summed up with one word: outstanding. 

In fact, she’s been reading Outstanding!—written for all organizations, even small food shops on an Upstate New York two-lane country road in my boyhood town.

After exploring chapters in Outstanding! that define exceptional managers as those who coach consistently, make no excuses, seek no culprits, focus on the customer, treat vendors like people, and keep the mission “top of mind,” Maria said, “John, your book totally applies to a business the size of mine. It really does.”

Smiling, I said, “Well, we sure agree on that!”—but I was thinking this: Wow, this friend who was 18 when I last saw her sure grew into one fine leader.

And businessperson.

And employer.

And giver to society.

And mom.

Did I mention three of the people she employs are her own adult kids? Yep, Mom is the boss. Feels right to me.

Maria, in my humble opinion, is an inspiration to us all. Not to mention one skilled baker. When we parted company, I walked away with four outstanding made-from-scratch pies. Made in America, by Maria.

Here’s my counsel:

No matter who you are or what you do, commit to becoming outstanding in all things. In other words …

Be like Maria.

Comments welcome!

Oh, and remember, if you’re ever in Ithaca, New York, stop by Dolce Delight!

ithaca, outstanding, small business, manager training, management

ALERT!!! Amazon has a wonderfully low price on all versions of the Outstanding! book here!