G01: Jim Grote

Business Based in Unconditional Love: The Golden Test, Pizza, & Programming A.I. to Love | with Jim Grote

Today we’re going to learn the story of how pizza changed one man’s life — and, as a result, thousands of lives in the Columbus community and world.

Although they’re born about a generation apart, our guest Jim Grote and our host Brett Kauffman are kindred spirits of a sort — “searchers looking for answers,” as Jim puts it in this conversation.

And their paths are parallel in many ways. Most notably, Jim founded Donatos Pizza with a three-part mission — to create a superior product, hire great people, and promote goodwill in business and the community — that strongly aligns with our mission here at Gravity — to intentionally create physical spaces that bring together like-minded people and programs, forming a collective consciousness that positively impacts the world-at-large in the process.

Jim didn’t know if it was possible to run a business entirely driven by moral character and principles — and he was told by a lot of people to ditch his principles — but, 57 years later, Jim has shown that you can run a moral business. You can run a business that supports your community, the world, and yourself without sacrificing anyone in the process. 

Today, Jim is a huge proponent for Agape Capitalism and businesses based in unconditional love, and he’s doing some incredible work to ensure there is more love in the future of food over at the EDGE Innovation Hub.


What Brett asks:

  • [3:15] How did Jim’s life journey lead to his work with Donatos and the community?
  • [13:20] When Jim was, as a teenager, given the offer to buy the pizza place he worked at, was he thinking about how it would affect his future?
  • [23:20] How do you, in hindsight, reconcile the missed opportunities and times you were slighted?
  • [25:45] Where did Jim’s inherent sense of principle, his deep-rooted core strength, come from?
  • [31:00] What was the trajectory of Donatos Pizza? How did it come into McDonald’s radar?
  • [38:00] How does a family impact the way you run a business?
  • [45:35] Tell us about inventing the Pep-A-Matic, a patented machine designed to slice and apply pepperoni directly to pizza, and your thoughts on manifestation.
  • [50:55] What is Jim’s process for manifestation?
  • [58:45] What metaphysical and spiritual practices have shaped Jim’s personal practice over the years?
  • [1:02:00] Let’s talk about unconditional love, Agape Capitalism, and plant medicine.
  • [1:06:35] What’s Jim’s experience with plant medicine?
  • [1:18:45] What is Jim doing now as a result of that experience?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • A lesson for business and a lesson for life: “Be authentic, humorous, and generous.”
  • If you’re being given advice that doesn’t sit right with you at a core level, even if it’s from mentors or people who have more experience than you, don’t take that advice. Your body, your soul, is wiser than you give it credit for.
  • Even if you have principles, people can make mistakes. But you can create systems that ensure everything aligns with your principles, whether that’s in the product you create for customers or your daily mindset.
  • Everyone’s heard of The Golden Rule, but Jim takes it a step further: Treat others as you’d like to be treated if you were in their shoes. If you give yourself this Golden Test before making decisions, every action you take will align with your principles (hey, it’s one of those systems we talked about in the previous bullet!).
  • If you can see something and believe it, it’s real. You maybe haven’t manifested yet, but it exists and you can bring it into the world. And that’s a gift that everyone has been given. Jim expands on his process for manifestation at around 50:55 in this episode.
  • It can be hard to love yourself, but it’s transformative. “If you can learn to love yourself unconditionally, you can learn to love others.” And when we build businesses this way, we can affect so many people it’s hard to quantify.
  • You don’t need to change your business to create a business based in unconditional love. If you change your heart first, then your business will change towards love and caring without any effort.