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Introduction to Samovar, the Movement

In this video I introduce the How and Why of Samovar Tea Lounge. Learn about how it came to be, how we embrace the “negative space” of art, music, and business. Offering our customers a space out of time, our business may look like a tea company, or restaurant, but in fact is a company whose sole purpose is to create Positive Human Connection. Enjoy.

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3 Encouraging Secrets to Starting a Business (or Not)

I often get emails from customers looking for “advice” on how to start a business, and looking for learnings I have to offer them. Below are my answers – enjoy!

1. What do you feel was the most important choice you made that contributed to the success of Samovar?

My decision to start Samovar was totally selfish. It was to start a business that would serve me as a customer. I needed a place to go to connect on a deeper level with myself. And with those close to me in life. Tea proved to be the ancient vehicle enabling that connection, so it was an obvious answer. The biggest decision was to dive within myself, to understand my own reason for being, my “Why,” and to connect that to where I believed there was a market opportunity. If I had this need, perhaps there was a world full of people who had the same need? And, instead of creating a Tea Company, I chose to create a Positive Human Connection Company. That was the most important decision I made. Continue reading 3 Encouraging Secrets to Starting a Business (or Not)

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Zen & the Art of Life Management

Join me and my good friends, and role models Leo Babauta, author of the awesome blog Zen Habits, Four Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss, and VP of the San Francisco Zen Center, Susan O’Connell as we have tea, and connect on the meaning of life, zen, and how to live with joy in a world full of technology and distraction.

Topics Include…

  • What is Zen?
  • How to do Zen
  • How these people manage their lives
  • How to live with meaning
  • How to use the technology and the tools of our times
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Focusing on Negativity for a Meaningful Life

What is Zen?I noticed recently how little time we have for joyful thinking. By that I mean the simple ability to just daydream, bliss out, and savor the fun of a meandering mind. We spend so much time doing-doing-doing that it’s easy to fill life up with one task after another, non stop, never having the moment to actually “not-do.”

I learned recently in a panel discussion with Leo Babauta author of the blog Zen Habits, and Susan O’Connell the VP of the San Francisco Zen Center, and Tim Ferriss author of the book and blog The Four Hour Workweek, that Zen is active not doing. Intentional, focused, and conscious not doing. I like the idea of that, and think it’s really pertinent to living happily and healthily today. Continue reading Focusing on Negativity for a Meaningful Life

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Tea Mavericks of America – Panel Discussion

(Complete video, approximately 1.5 hours)

I recently had tea with these amazing guys, jointly responsible for making the tea market what it is today. Taking the time for tea and talk, these guys shared their experiences, insights, and their take on why tea is taking off today. CEO of Rishi Tea, Joshua Kaiser, Author James Norwood Pratt, CEO and Alchemist Ahmed Rahim, CEO of Digg Kevin Rose, Tea Pioneer David Lee Hoffman, and Samovar founder Jesse Jacobs all gather for tea at Samovar Tea Lounge.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Each person’s history and how they came to be doing what they’re doing
  • Their personal tea ritual
  • Why tea is gaining unprecedented popularity in America
  • How they can be competitors as well as supporters of eachother
  • Best tea for Sex
  • Much more… 
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Bargain Books + Free Wifi = Goodby Borders San Francisco

What’s interesting about this photo? How about the fact that this company is paying top San Francisco real estate dollar to sell bargain books, and all the while offering free wifi (where customers are capable of ordering the same bargain books cheaper from Amazon!)? What’s interesting is that they remained in business for so long operating with this as a business model. Truly I am saddened at the loss of a local book store.

I am not saddened at the loss of a big chain style store that put the local bookstore out of business. But then look what happened: Borders tried to be everything to everybody. They added in a Seattle’s Best coffee shop to be “cafe like.” But the plastic chairs, stale coffee, cheap snacks, and smile-less service didn’t make it a neighborhood coffee shop anything like Philz (across the street). And offering cheapo books could never compete with Amazon. And offering free wifi….well where’s the business in that?

I am really amazed that a company with (at one time) so much resources and power would just throw ideas at the wall never realizing that the more they threw, the less special of a business they’d become. Until now…and they are closing. I am sad because I really did like to go through there to brainstorm, browse, and, sadly never buy. Instead I would make my purchases either from Amazon, when I knew exactly what I wanted, or, from my favorite awsome local San Francisco bookstores: Christopher’s, and Green Apple books. I did mention to the manager as I was leaving that their closing was really sad and an interesting sign of the times. I also offered her an idea that I would pay real money for: 

Why not make the space really inviting, comfortable, and cool, and charge customers an entrance fee – and then just do “print on demand.” Supposedly those machines go for just $50,000, and can print and bind any pdf book! And, if the space was really cool, and comfy, and had great lighting, then I and others would happily pay an admission fee just to hang out. The manager just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. Oh well. 

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Business is Nothing – But Community (Part 2)

One of the funniest ironies about technology and improvement is that as we make giant technological leaps ever day, and get ever more “connected,” we are at the same time we are also getting more disconnected from each other and the world. Author Bill McKibbons wrote recently in Mother Jones Magazine that ever since 1956, the “Happiness Index” of Americans has been going down. How can this be, amidst an ever improving “standard of living,” that we are getting progressively unhappy? Continue reading Business is Nothing – But Community (Part 2)

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Business is Nothing – But Stories (Part 1)

We are born and we do a bunch of stuff and then we die. The stuff we do between birth and death is actually just a whole bunch of stories, and business is one outlet of those stories. How we interact with each other and our environment is the story of business.

At the end of the day at Samovar our business is not how much money we made or lost, not what teas were bought or sold, not which employees showed up for work. No, at the end of the day at Samovar, when the last scones have been sold, and the last pot of tea brewed, the floor cleaned, and the lights turned off, at the end of that day all that is left is just a bunch of stories. And the stories are absolutely fascinating. That is business.

Continue reading Business is Nothing – But Stories (Part 1)

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May 6, 2011

Our Bai Hao oolong is also referred to as in the tea world as Oriental Beauty, a name given to these dark and silvery leaves by Queen Elizabeth II after she tasted this tea for the first time.

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.

– Bernard-Paul Heroux