As I’m enjoying a few months’ sabbatical, I have an unprecedented (for me) chance to think about what I really want to do when I grow up.
One of the issues I find myself wrestling with is the scale of the work that I do. I’ve become comfortable with the notion that I’m a fame whore. Deep down I want to start and lead a Big Enterprise. Something that Scales to The Heavens™.
But then I go to something like the soft opening of Good 2 Go Taco / Stir Coffee this morning. I left there in better spirits than I’ve had in some time — only partially because of the delicious breakfast and perfect Americano.
No, I knew exactly what did it– the contact high from being around a business launch. Jeana, Colleen, Rip and Vanessa have struggled mightily to get their shop(s) open. You could feel the excitement, pleasure and pride they had in finally serving customers. No one was dreaming of franchising or overseas expansion. They’re making great food with local ingredients; direct-trade coffee lovingly roasted and brewed. That’s enough and that’s awesome.
I talked with Rip a bit, along with Mike from Stir supplier Cuvee Coffee about doing things with purity — The analogy of “selling out” for Stir is “adding smoothies to the menu.”
April is sometimes bemused at my struggles on this front: “Pick a good thing, and be that,” she says
One of my cinematic heroes is George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s his restriction to a small scale, a small town, that enables him to make a profound difference in people’s lives. I see the people who have sweated over the Weed & Seed organization that has worked wonders in improving my neighborhood, without thought of citywide office. These are real, tangible things that make people happier day-in-and-out.
But somehow, I always seem to want to add the smoothies — not in a mad dash for profits and World Domination, but because I think I can reach more people that way and then give them a sample of direct-trade coffee and convert them, their friends, their friends’ friends and so on.
At least that’s what I tell myself.
The only movie I might like better than It’s A Wonderful Life is A Face in The Crowd. If you’ve seen it, you know what that means.
This is, perhaps, the most important thing for me to figure out in these next few months. Can I hit it big without selling smoothies? Can I be happy building the media equivalent of the Bailey Building and Loan? Am I George Bailey or Lonesome Rhodes? Is there a place that is George Roads or Lonesome Bailey?
- Why no scaling business means no scaling commissions (leadsexplorer.com)
- Build Loyalty like George Bailey (neurosciencemarketing.com)
- Wilco: The Coffee Is Here … What Should They Brand Next? (stereogum.com)
- Life Lessons from George Bailey (suzemuse.com)
- Starbucks answers the siren song of logo change (blogs.consumerreports.org)