Wednesday, May 23, 2012


EDITOR'S NOTE: Perhaps this post should have been called True Confessions as my sister, Susanne Anderson, has once again pulled back the curtain on life in the family business. As usual, it is written with her wonderful blend of irreverence, humor and heart.

My family loves notes. Here’s a great example, the catalyst for this blog post.

This is a note written on our daily cooking board explaining the different firmnesses that our caramels are cooked to.

I’m not sure where this habit came from, because Anderson notes aren’t limited to reminders or instructions to be tossed away five seconds after they serve their purpose. These notes can be written on anything, put anywhere and, most importantly, only God, or your preferred deity, knows how long they will stay up.

Did my grandfather write notes to himself like these? And if so, did he pick it up from his father? Have notes stuck in prominent places been an integral part of our business since its inception? Or longer? So many questions, so few answers. If only these walls could talk. I imagine they would know, since they’ve known my family and our notes since 1926.

I think my dad currently has the worst note problem. He writes notes daily and often re-writes the same notes. His computer is filled with these notes with file names like, well, this, a small sampling:

The employees also know that the best way to contact my dad is through notes, like these:

My uncle had a pretty bad note problem, too. Though he hasn’t worked here on a daily basis in a few years, his notes still adorn the walls and refrigerators all over the building. (Be sure to note the date on the second one – 2004!)

The note fad has even spread to my little brothers. Here’s a note by Aaron, my youngest brother, reminding Tracy Anderson, his mom, just how “awsome" he is:

I’m a big human note fan myself.

And now that I work more around food, I notice myself becoming more and more like my dad, writing virtual notes to myself.

Even Katie, my sister, has started to catch onto the craze.

So why do we keep up the note craze, and maybe more importantly, why don’t we get rid of them once their use has past?

My guess is that it has something to do with the philosophy of our business and family in general: tradition, like these notes, reminds us who we are. They give us guidance, remind us of our standards and connect us with the ones we love.

They're comforting and they push us to be our best. My uncle may not work here daily anymore, but we’re reminded of his presence (and demand for perfection!) every day.

And after hunting around the shop for these notes and pondering their usefulness and place in the grand scheme of running a business, I only ended up taking half of them down.

(As a side note, when asked about the note craze, Tracy Anderson, Leif Anderson's wife, after explaining that they are comforting and guiding, said, "Getting into your dad's head, I think he leaves them up as proof that he's being productive.")