“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
A journey to where? And what is that single first step anyway?
Some of you probably live life with great intention and have plans that extend many years into the future. My Dad used to say with conviction “Plan your work and work your plan” and he actually lived it out.
But at some point in life, however intentional and organized, I believe we all face some measure of the unexpected. That is where I find myself, pursuing something meant for young entrepreneurs and I am neither. I am sure, however, that passion has stirred in me and it’s pursuit is fueled from within and not conjured up or propped up by a sense of what I should be doing or look like at my age (though that used to be my MO and is often a temptation).
Not sure if my sweet wife coined the phrase but she has lived it, there are gifts in life “you didn’t ask for but would not give back if given the opportunity”. Coffee as my vocation is one of those. I began drinking coffee in high school like many of you may have, one part coffee, three parts cream and sugar. Then somewhere along the way it turned to black only. Coffee shops were not trendy or really existent in my early years but when I inherited some money in the early 2000’s and my schedule became my own, I began to frequent shops around town. This introduced me to the idea of not only different types of coffee but as important, atmosphere and types of service.
I may elaborate on this later, but suffice it to say that the next ten years, after the bank vault was unlocked for me, were a constant struggle - for me to be and remain relevant. As I said earlier, I’m not an entrepreneur but I posed as one during those years. So, when things finally went south, I began looking for any kind of paying job and turned to coffee. I’d heard that a couple was opening a local shop and went in to interview. I don’t remember exactly what was said but the gist of it was, “overlook my gray hair and consider me a college student looking for as many hours as you can spare”.
This began the process of peeling away layers of a prideful, fear-shielding façade (I would have maintained it but found it impossible to do while working behind the counter at age 50). Maybe simultaneously, the realization began to hit me that I really enjoyed what I was doing. I enjoyed the people (both customers and staff), creating an atmosphere, and serving as well. It just felt like a great fit for my wiring and gifts.
Fast forward three years and I find myself leaving that eye and heart-opening experience to launch Innova Coffee with my wife, Anna. Ours is a grass roots launch that involves connecting with people before we even have a space. We’ll be giving updates through our website, this blog and social media. Please stay tuned.
So, how long is this journey and when is, or was, the first step? In some ways it seems we’ve traveled a thousand miles already. And I feel that probably the first step is somewhere in my past. But what I can tell you is that hope and passion transcend age and that the horizon is bright.
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