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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Create Value for Others

Host Hattie Bryant says that the founders of Triplex Cinema chose to create something useful rather than stay bored by retirement.

Key Question:


Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about how you can help others. An innovator who seeks to make life better for others will be a winner no matter how much money ends up in his or her pocket.

Bob Sakata's mantra for 50 years has been lighten the load for the farm worker. While doing the back-breaking work himself since childhood, Bob was always thinking, `How can a job be made easier for the worker?' With this one big question occupying his mind, he has invented dozens of labor-saving devices.

We learned from Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, that her husband wanted to start a ministry that would need funding. She told us he was burned out and wanted to do something other than work just for money. His idea was to offer family and marriage counseling on a free or low-cost basis to the people in his own community and target his efforts to the religious group he has been part of all of his life. It makes perfect sense that he would want to offer his services to many who could not afford to pay.

The couple decided that Anne would work to earn enough to support their simple personal lifestyle and the counseling center. It was while working for someone else that Anne had the idea to start her own business making and selling pretzels.

Q: Why is the motivation for innovation important?

The motivation behind starting a business or inventing a new product or service will guide your decisions. Since Auntie Anne's was born to give, she could not comply with the bankers' requests to stop giving away money. Had her purpose been to make money for herself, she would have had no trouble working with a bank.

The reason you start a business will be clear to others. Anne has been able to attract franchisees who also want to work in a business that is committed to giving. People want to spend their time doing something important. On the surface, Auntie Anne's sells a fabulous tasting pretzel, but so much more is happening at Auntie Anne's. For example, jobs are being created for entry level workers; and, the franchisees are encouraged to find charities in their own communities in which they can invest.

It is very difficult for most companies to recruit franchisees and this has never been the case for Auntie Anne. She not only has a great product, she has a heart for people and this is appealing. Anne believes there is power is the concept of giving. This power energizes people at a level which never could be achieved if the goal is simply to make money. If you start a business, you must be interested in other people – these are your customers – more than you are yourself. 

Think about it

Why did you start your business in the first place? Have you achieved that goal? Do you think you have the best reason to be in business? Do you think selfishness has held you back in any way? What can you do to be more generous? What product or service could you develop that would help people?

Clip from: Triplex Movie Theater

Great Barrington, Massachusetts: We go into the downtown of this village, just on the fringe of the pulsing melodies of the Tanglewood Music Festival, the summer home of the Boston Symphony (just north in Lenox). Today, the entire area is an arts colony. Not too long ago Great Barrington was a neglected old mill town. Today, it is a picture postcard of the Berkshires -- the town is in a renaissance sparked in part by two men who thought they were going to retire.

Owners Richard Stanley and Joe Wasserman are heroes because they jumped in to solve a problem. They didn't ask, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" They became the somebody and they caught the imagination of the town.

They built Triplex Cinema on the site of a former lumberyard and today it is the hub of nightlife for the town.   It opened in November of 1995 with one film and today it not only offers movies, it is a gathering place for live events and dining in the lobby café.

Go to the key ideas for this episode...
A homepage about not retiring ...
A homepage about niches...

Triplex Cinema

Richard Stanley, President

70 Railroad Street
Great Barrington, MA 01230

Visit our web site:

Office: 413.528.8885

Business Classification:
Entertainment, Movies

Year Founded: 1995

Create Value for Others

HATTIE: Richard Stanley and Joe Wasserman tried to quit. They came separately to Great Barrington to relax, retire and, perhaps, fiddle around real estate and whatever caught their fancy. They met while attending a town meeting, and as entrepreneurs will do, they talked about their dreams for improving Great Barrington's historic business district.

Now you see what became of their first meeting. Richard and Joe couldn't retire, and no one should have a goal to retire. Sure, you want to change. Sure, you need a new challenge. But we're all sick and tired of hearing the AARP bragging about being the biggest association in the world and about being the largest advocacy group in Washington. When people who don't work claim to have the biggest voice, something's very wrong.

All but one of us at SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL are baby boomers. Then we have one 23-year-old. No one here thinks about retiring. It's not good for people not to have work. And it's not good for the country for our most experienced individuals to leave the work force. The great thing about working for yourself is no one can make you quit, and certainly, no one can make you join the AARP. We have studied a number of way past retirement age entrepreneurs. We've learned a lot from them and from Richard and Joe. But I think the greatest lesson is they are all smart enough not to retire.


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