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The Unification of Pizza & Pay

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Why you should care

Because you can pay people well, and thrive as a small business.

As it turns out, money can buy happiness, just not in the ways you might think. This is “More of What You Love,” a collaboration between OZY and Ally Financial to highlight the people who are not only doing good business, but doing what they love and finding innovative ways to fund their passion projects.

For Michael Lastoria, it all comes back to the ampersand — the “&” that can be found in the name of his boutique chain of &pizza shops. “The ampersand to us represented unity, inclusion and connectedness,” Lastoria says.

That unity, as he expresses it, is actually a commitment to his workers. Starting his business brought a lot of financial challenges, Lastoria says, and he admits that he didn’t even know the meaning of the phrase “living wage” — much less its importance to his employees.

I look at it as an opportunity to open up our doors and show the world that not only can we pay people well but we can also thrive as an organization.

 

But launching a business forced him to learn quickly — and not just about how to maintain his pizza chain’s bottomline, but also about his responsibility as an employer to pay his staff in a way that allows them to lead fulfilling lives too. “I look at it as an opportunity to open up our doors and show the world that not only can we pay people well but we can also thrive as an organization.”

Despite a troubling trend of growing inequality and wage stagnation, Lastoria says that prioritizing a staff’s ability to thrive is key to building a robust business (and presumably make better pizza).

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Numbers and factoids — fodder for your next cocktail party.