Lecture of Love

Each year, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) gathers for the worlds largest assembly of coffee professionals for a week of learning, listening, meeting and competing. Seattle seems to be the choice for locations of these events. I wonder why that is?

The week starts off with Re:Co Symposium, a TED Talk-style series of lectures from some of the most influential members of our industry. Only about 400 attend The Symposium, so it’s a very intimate setting to learn from some of the biggest players in the industry. The next three days round out the week with the World Coffee Expo, which is a typical trade show with over 500 vendors and 14,000 attendees. There are certification courses for accredited programs and lectures for the general public. Lastly, the U.S. Coffee Championships will entertain crowds as we seek champion brewers, baristas and roasters.

I attend the annual event to gain industry knowledge, to connect with other leaders, and to help develop the sense for where I hope to take my experience in the industry. The last year has been exceptionally good for my development. It’s my third year and I am lucky to have been chosen as a speaker in one the educational lectures. My lecture, titled “Coffee is a Business (Whether You Like it or Not): A Journey into the Black,” is a story about my journey as a business person and how I had to grow up in order to create a business that was sustainable. It’s a brutally honest tale of how numbers need to be part of a grand plan for success; how you cannot rely upon aesthetics and perception to lead a business to a long future. Teaching good finance to your team should be just as cool as making great coffee.

My hopes are that young business owners consider their place in their communities, and determine if they desire to create something that will long outlive them. If they desire to do so, then their plans need to be built on more than a product or pretty building. I wish to use this experience to influence others to make sound choices for their businesses that take into account the legacy they wish to leave to their community.

If you are interested in knowing more about my talk and where I stand on the issue of sustainable business, feel free to reach out. I’d like to create more dialogue on the issue of small business finance.

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