I can truly say that my last 13 years in Specialty Coffee have been life changing. I grew up in the small town of Wilkeson, Washington in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. By the time I was 20 I had only flown on an airplane once and had a very limited view of the world outside of the Northwest.
Fast-forward to today and I have traveled all around the world through coffee and coffee education. I have visited amazing places like Australia, Hong Kong and Costa Rica! Not only has coffee fueled the fire of refining my perspective of the world, but my perspective of myself. The more I have gotten to see outside the easier it has been to look inside and to understand my own heart.
YOUR heart is what I would like to talk about today. The greatest truth that has proven itself to me in business is that I work in a business of the heart. Specialty coffee is an industry of people, who happen to be passionate about one amazing product.
I would like to offer 12 keys that I have discovered to be invaluable tools in finding personal fulfillment and quality life in the coffee industry. Maybe you are just starting a business and would like to open a cafe. Maybe you have been in business for years and are looking to find your focus again. Whatever your circumstance, I hope these keys will motivate you to a more balanced and fruitful career in coffee.
1) Explore with Intention- The beginning of the process starts with not just opening your eyes and ears, but also you heart! Engage life experience with purpose and don’t take things at face value. Dig in!
2) Know Yourself- Take time to get quiet with your thoughts. Think about your past and what has made you who you are. Many times the best way to set your trajectory for the future is by looking back at where you have been.
3) Define your personal life mission- Don’t just know what you do that makes you feel alive, know why! There should be a thread of truth that connects the motivation of your day. This is who you are! Should be short and sweet. Focus!
4) Develop your business/professional mission- How you operate in business should be an extension of who you are. Nobody is going to be successful changing hats from personal to professional mode. You need to know the rhythm of your own heart and let that tempo direct your entire life, even your business!
5) Commit to core values- These will be daily routines and processes that will help you reach your personal and professional mission. Define them and stick to them! Set goals and quantify your success. If you can measure it, you can manage it!
6) Craft your brand- Your brand is a graphic representation of your business mission. Now that you know the heart, it is time to craft the face. Your business is a living, breathing organism. The face (logo) is the part that initially attracts someone to your business so it should speak about the heart (mission) behind it. Don’t skimp on this step. Hire a professional to help refine your mission perfectly into a recognizable and memorable image.
7) Orchestrate your space- If you are building a retail concept, let it be consistent with your brand and mission. For example, if you open a shop called “Anchor Coffee” and you want to play off the nautical theme and the mission of being anchored to community, don’t dress out your space with rocket ships and hire standoffish baristas. Let your entire atmosphere tie your brand and mission together. Use texture, color, everything! Consistent message will breed massive confidence.
8) Define daily rhythms- Now that you have crafted a space that tells a story train your people to take customers on a journey. Tight operations are key when you are building a creative concept. If you don’t have a foundation of excellence in cleaning, maintenance, product presentation, etc. you are sunk. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of the norm after that, if you want to greet your customers and stay with them through their entire visit. Do it!
9) Invite others into the mission- The only way you will ever get staff that will come to work loving what they do every day is to have your mission be their own. Just as you began this process listening to your heart you have to speak to their hearts so they will join you within a common mission. That is where synergy happens! Let your people run portions of your business like it is their own. The best thing you can do for people with passion is to give them a purpose to walk out.
10) Cultivate leadership- Lead by example and give others the opportunity to rise up as leaders. The best leaders are those who make space for others to rise up. This also comes through our new definition of customer service. No longer is customer service the “show” or goods you bring but the good you draw out of your customers. Shouldn’t your employees experience the same?
11) Invitation without obligation- Try to be a library of knowledge with an open door, just don’t force everyone to be quiet and listen while you download all you know on them. Give them some breadcrumbs welcoming them into the bigger story of your life, your product, whatever! Just give them the option to engage or not. You will be surprised with the results, I promise!
12) Involvement equals ownership- This journey never ends. You will continue to find and discover more amazing things about yourself and the world around you if you commit to looking for it everyday. If your business (heck, your life for that matter!) is committed to bringing those around you along for the journey, it is no longer a story you are trying to sell it is everyone’s story. There is no need to sell something if people already buy in. They own it and it is as much a part of them as it is of you.
The best part about all of these keys is I have seen countless times that the natural byproduct of living by these values is often times the very reason people get into business: Financial freedom, identity, purpose, quality of life, etc. All of this can be achieved by doing business from your heart not just your head.
Coffee is love, love is life, and life is good!