It only seems fair to answer some of the things Jon did in the last post. It would be weird to interview myself and Jon is buried in roasting until the new roaster gets here in a couple weeks so this will kind of be a hybrid of answers and a stream of consciousness. I promise I'll still try to make it interesting.
G1 - You said it would be weird to interview yourself and yet here you are, starting this off in an interview format. That's weird.
G2 - It definitely is.
G1 - Well then, moving along. What drove you to coffee and starting Bridge City with Jon?
G2 - I have been asking myself that question recently as things have become more involved and difficult moving the business forward. It hits me randomly how different this is from the leadership consulting I was previously doing. However, while the motions may be different, the core motivation has remained the same. When I personally feel off kilter or get bogged down with what I view as slow progress since we are currently in the bottleneck phase of growth, I have to keep coming back to my desire to impact people's lives through work. That's what has remained constant through everything, the motivation to bring life to people by providing them with purpose and value at the place most of us spend the single biggest chunk of our waking hours.
G1 - I really thought you would drop the interview format by now.
G2 - Yeah, me too. I'm not quite sure why this is still happening. I hope people find it nearly as comical as I do.
G1 - Since we're still doing this, you mentioned providing people with purpose and value. Describe that a bit more.
G2 - Purpose is defined as "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists." I have learned the hard way that when we don't know our purpose, life can lose it's color, beauty, and vitality. To be sure there are a myriad of ways to numb ourselves to that truth with temporary distractions or fixes. But when we're quiet and alone with our thoughts, if we don't believe we have a purpose it's really hard to believe we have any value. Regardless of where someone comes from or what they have done or not done, they have a unique set of skills and talents. Sometimes individuals aren't aware of what those skills are, but they're still there waiting to be mined out. The entire motivation driving Jon and me to build Bridge City is to help people figure that out about themselves. When someone is able to discover the intersection of their deepest passions and greatest strengths it swings the door wide open to feel a deep sense of purpose and understanding of their value as a person. Sometimes that light bulb moment may occur in the first few weeks someone is employed with us. Other times, as in my case, it may take someone years to figure it out. But I can guarantee you it's worth spending those years to figure it out and we want people to leave their time with Bridge City with an understanding of what they're looking for, even if they haven't found it yet.
G1 - How does that tie in specifically to coffee?
How that all relates to coffee, my answer is very similar to Jon's. Working in a coffee shop will require our employees to learn a specific set of skills but they are mostly learnable regardless of their background. I want to be clear that neither Jon nor I mean to insult baristas by saying it's an easy job, because it's not. I'm a pretty bad barista. My lattes look like my four year old daughter made them. But I'm working on that and can still make a delicious cup of coffee, I usually just throw a lid on it so you can't see what it looks like. That's what we'll expect of our employees too. Not that they would win latte art competitions, but that they would make consistently great products (better than me) while learning the importance of striving for excellence in their work and taking personal satisfaction in what they create.
G1 - What excites you most about Bridge City?
I love studying what makes truly successful leaders. I don't mean people who walked on others to "win" or capitalized on an opportunity presented to them to achieve financial success or fame. I mean people like Ernest Shackleton, Nelson Mandela, Irena Sendler, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Though they were all presented with tremendous adversity and every opportunity to throw in the towel they continued to push forward. But they didn't push forward because of a desire to win or be the best. Rather, they kept going for the benefit of those who they were serving. They were fully aware of their purpose and were able to keep the end goal front and center in their mind with the awareness that if they didn't, the people following them would be worse off for it. That's what excites me about Bridge City, fostering deep, personal growth in people so they can lead themselves effectively and in turn hopefully lead and inspire others as well.
G1 - To be fair to Jon, what is something random or funny most people don't know about you?
I love comic books. Yes, I am aware that makes me a huge nerd, my wife regularly makes sure I remember that. I put all the impressive business books and biographies on bookshelves so people see those when they walk into our house. But I put the really good stuff like Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, and Superman on shelves in my closet. My reading list currently consists of Action Comics, Superman Doomsday Clock, and to remind me that I am in fact an adult, Walter Isaacson's biography on Leonardo da Vinci. I also have pretty big coin collection.