When I was a little boy, we’d travel on the weekends to go see my grandparents for a visit. We did this a lot. Both sets of grandparents lived in the rural part of our state, and one actually had a farm. There were places to roam and explore as a kid, wading through creeks, woods and, fields to run through, finding cold springs that gushed water and life. One of those springs fed a stock pond which was always full of fish (bass, crappie, bream) for us to try to catch. Being a kid with a place to dream and go on adventures was such an awesome thing. As I look back on that time of my life and compare it to how I’ve raised my own children, I had it much better and think it has played such a huge role in the creative side of me. To dream. To roam. To explore.
After a long while, we could come in from our adventures, and my grandmother would have made the best homemade food you’d every eaten. All cooked with love and lard for sure, but incomparable when you’ve been out playing all day and you’re starved to death. What a time.
After dinner, we would sit around the table and visit, or move into the living room. You see, my grandparents couldn’t get much TV reception out away from the major metropolitan areas (if we actually have those in Arkansas) so, there was no TV to watch. We sat around and visited with each other. Mostly, I got to hear stories, that I find now are invaluable, about how my grandparents grew up with horses and wagon, plowed gardens with the help of mules, and even found out what the names of the mules were. It was magical to hear these family stories about them, and my parents when they were kids and what all they did, the places they went, and what their life was like. Family history was being shared, and even passed down to my generation. As it is, my mom’s maiden name is ‘Bowie’ and we are somehow indirect descendants of Jim Bowie, the famous fellow from the Alamo and the designer of the ‘Bowie knife’. I loved hearing these stories of my mom who had her own horse and how she’d ride it all the time, cross large creeks and swim with it. These stories are so so rich.
But, to sit down and just visit was difficult at first for kid of any age, but we learned to just join in on the story-telling, and some of us got pretty good at it too. Post any dinner was also fresh brewed coffee, Mamaw would make coffee and everyone would have a cup and sit and visit. We would engage with other in such a way that would make each of us feel part of what was going on with the stories and conversation.
That’s why I think this coffee movement if you can call it that, has been so appealing to me. It is a place for me to connect with others in a way that’s almost magical. Tell each other our stories and make friends. As I’ve developed businesses it has been a focal point to move my ideas forward and, instruct a team member, work on marketing, move a sale along and create.
Since I started my career, post college, spring 1988, I have been in the middle of this technology revolution. I have been in the medical software business all these years, but there was not even was such a thing as a PC, cell phones that were for the consumer, and the internet. During my career I have seen a lot of technology advancement over these past many years.
Today we’re overwhelmed with technology. Most people would rather text than talk to you. I love texting and it works well for me. But, so many times there is something lost in translation and misunderstandings happen. Probably thousands have happened just while you’re reading this.
Something else we’re missing – personal interaction. Interesting, I see most of the most successful people around me almost shun technology. Why, I think we lose focus, we lose personal interaction, we miss the personal language inflection, body language, and looking someone in the eye to let them know the level of importance some matter may or may not be.
Working out of a coffee shop allows for this personal interaction we so desperately need. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE good coffee and being in a coffee shop makes it even better for me. So, why not run my business out of it? It emulates the office, but without all the corporate BS. Anyone looking to further, or even start a business would find this an awesome way to get a ‘leg up’ and be encouraged as they work. When someone demands I meet them at their office these days, it makes me uncomfortable. I’m on their turf. But, when we meet at the coffee shop for our discussions, I find we are both on ‘even footing’ or common ground.
So, join me for a visit as we explore Common Grounds, maybe in your favorite coffee shop.
-Ancil Lea, III