My friends Tolu and Ronke run a cleaning company that is unlike any cleaning company I have ever come across. They see Zenith Cleaners as a vehicle through which they can create the kind of world they want to live in, a world that is not just healthy and aesthetically beautiful, but deeply rooted in caring relationships and personal growth.
What I find particularly inspiring is their ability to translate this philosophy into a daily practice. One of the practices that struck me when I worked for Zenith was the equal reverence they had for clients and staff. In every other service job I’ve experienced, the mantra that was drilled into my brain was “the customer is always right.” But at Zenith, Tolu and Ronke made it clear from the start that if I was ever treated poorly by a client, I was to tell them immediately and they would not hesitate to intervene and even discontinue the relationship with the client if necessary. For them, a clean and healthy world does not stop at what you can see, it includes healthy human relationships. If the space looks clean, but human beings are hurt in the process, the space is not truly clean.
Recently, Tolu took to blogging some of his reflections on their business and so I thought it would be fun to bring them into this space. Here are a few nuggets from the Zenith blog and website that resonated with me:
“We came into this knowing that it was a ‘lowly’ occupation but we chose to be ‘lowly’ instead of ‘exalted’ and while we had a sense of it when we started, we realize in retrospect that there are many things you learn in lowliness that you cannot learn otherwise.”
“Cleaning is not just about keeping someone else’s space clean. Depending on one’s perspective, the cleaner may benefit much more from the process than the beneficiary of the cleaning task and I think understanding and experiencing ways a cleaner may benefit from the activity makes it much more rewarding for everyone. As a cleaner, you probably will not be cleaning for the rest of your life but while you are doing it, why not fully participate and experience what makes cleaning rewarding for you.”
“For me, cleaning is not just about cleaning. It is about relationships, it is about working out, it is about meditation, it is about seeing the world through a different lens and being in a different role than my training and background has prepared me for. I cannot describe what it feels like to be a cleaner doing high dusting in a clothing store one night and the next morning be speaking to a graduating MBA class at HEC Montreal. It tends to enlarge your frame of reference, at the very least.”