I am extremely lucky that, because of my remarkably intelligent and high-performing staff, I have the space and objective to focus on the “big picture” for most hours of most days. Yesterday, for example, was a typical Monday and I spent time working on a Boston Marathon advertising experience (stay tuned), a mega cold brew expansion (stay tuned), a new kids menu (you get it …), a trip to El Salvador, Summit’s new business development strategy, and a teaching plan for Wednesday’s Leadership Development class.
The baristas at all three of our cafes deliver coffee better than I can make, with genuine and positive hospitality. They’re supported by an amazing management team — Dora, Angela, Jamie — that encourages curiosity, growth, collaboration and requires a commitment to excellence across the board. And that team is supported by Andrew, our COO who parlays his unique capacity for strategy and learning into a brilliant operations program.
On the coffee side, Evan handles everything from sourcing and quality control, to roasting and order fulfillment, to education and management of our lead baristas. His team executes orders without a misstep, and everyone works in collaboration with Matt, who manages our wholesale program with a remarkable commitment to relationship and personal attention.
All this is to say, there isn’t much I need to do on a given day — just plenty for me to do. There are few, if any, agenda items on my schedule, nothing to check off and drive home with the feeling, “I sure did accomplish a lot today.” It’s a blessing to have that space, for sure, and I believe (hope?) that Summit will be better because of it. But as an achiever, not having a punch list of accomplishments means not having opportunities to celebrate.
Ironically, writing a blog (which contributes no direct value to Summit) has allowed me the opportunity to reflect and identify victories. Even entries like last week’s story on epic failure allow me to identify what we’ve done well. I’ve learned that for an achiever, or for me at least, harnessing small victories for ongoing energy is like drinking coffee when you’re not yet tired. Let’s keep this thing rolling right along.
This week, our new retail bags make their debut in Whole Foods. It probably sounds bigger than it is in reality — one store in Asheville, with an initial order of just 36 bags.
But to be totally honest, when I reflect on the journey, it feels like a pretty big moment.
This is Summit Coffee, the small cafe on Main St. in little ‘ole Davidson that people may remember as a “hole in the wall coffee shop.” Now this small cafe is redesigned and bustling, and we have two more state-of-the-art locations.
This is Summit Coffee, a company I started working for in 2011 when I was employee #8. Now this company has 57 employees, offers retirement and wellness benefits, and I’m leading a panel in April at the global specialty coffee conference on careers in coffee.
This is Summit Coffee, a coffee brand that in 2014 was selling a 20-ounce toasted almond cappuccino with scalded milk and poorly extracted espresso. Now this coffee brand is sending two employees to the U.S. National Coffee Championships for being among the top 24 professionals in their respective fields.
This is Summit Coffee, whose beans were packaged in brown kraft bags and labeled with a sometimes-working rubber stamp. Now our packaging has been featured on the coffee industry’s most popular website.
And this is Summit Coffee, which as recently as 2015 did not distribute outside the 28036 zip code. Now our product is in 21 states, and in Jeff Bezos’ Whole Foods.
While the 17 minutes writing this blog may be the only time I dedicate to celebrating this small victory, it is a tangible opportunity to celebrate Summit. To celebrate our people and our progress, our growth and our curiosity, our past and our present. If you’re in the Asheville area, go buy a bag and let me know about it. I want you to share in these victories, too, and hopefully next week I will embrace another 17 minutes celebrating another victory.
Until then, it’s time to be productive.