This Sunday morning, Tyler and I will take our two kids on an airplane, and then another, spend a night at 30,000 feet and wake up in Rome. For the first time since owning Summit, I am leaving the country on a non-coffee trip. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a vacation, since I will be plugged in along the Amalfi Coast. But it’s pretty darn close — perhaps, as Andrew identified it, I am taking a sabbatical. For 24 days, I will be far from Davidson and Asheville, with no first-hand access to the 24-7 reality of our Summit life.
This blog is not about me galavanting around Europe, but rather about why I can. It’s a story of confidence, and competence, and consistency. It’s a story of trust.
It wasn’t more than 18 months ago when nary a weekend went by without Summit needing something from me. Stepping in behind the bar, delivering milk, gathering dishes, covering staff shortages. As a small business owner, there’s a laundry list of things that need intervention, things that can and do go wrong. Even in the highest-functioning businesses, ownership looks a lot like maintenance, of survival, of seeking stability.
All this is to say, stability is here. And it’s here because of trust. Five days ahead of me is Italy, and 24 days away from not only North Carolina but from shouting distance of North Carolina. When friends and customers ask me “how is this going to work,” or “who is going to run things when you’re gone,” I meet the conversation with enthusiasm, not anxiety. At the risk of overstating my importance to the day-to-day of Summit, it’s daunting to leave and trust that things will be OK. As anyone who has run a business, or a family, or managed a team of people can tell you, going away is the ultimate test of confidence.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
So here is Italy, and here is trust. Summit will be OK. Scratch that, Summit will be great. I know that Summit will be great, because Summit is great and it has everything to do with the brand and the people and nothing specifically to do with me.
Summit will be great because Evan is still going to source and roast wonderful coffee, and his team will process orders with both urgency and intention. Summit will be great because behind Evan are Ali and Tyler, at work long before the sun rises to get the job done with unbridled enthusiasm. It will be great because whatever issues may arise, Matt and Aimee and any number of folks will be on hand to respond and deliver.
Summit will be great because our operations team runs a smoother cafe business than I ever did. Summit will be great because Andrew and Dora and Angela and Jamie. Because of the baristas and the bakers and everyone in between. Because Basecamp is ready for spring with its new patio makeover, and the Outpost is ready with new a new food menu and Asheville is ready with one of the most hospitable, talented teams we’ve ever assembled.
I trust that Summit will be great because all this can happen without me. As a small business owner, it’s a dream to build something that doesn’t require me to be the glue and the bandaids and whatever other metaphorical item you can dream of.
When I sat watching Peppa Pig on TV with my daughter, Bay, last fall and had the outrageous idea to spend a month in Italy, I allowed myself to dream because that first dream came true. So here we are, middle of March, planning for Italy and trusting completely that Summit will be great while I am across the ocean no doubt sending way to many Slack messages to phones and computers in North Carolina.
Summit doesn’t need me in order to be great, and that’s a wonderful thing.