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Jobs, Slow Tea, and The Future of America

I believe that the purpose of life is to live a meaningful life. And considering that for most of our waking lives we work, our jobs are therefore quite influential on whether or not we are living with meaning.

A society without jobs is a society without meaning.

The biggest challenge I see with the current economy and the “job crisis” is that without jobs, we have a society without meaning. And legions of people without meaning is both sad and scary.

In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, no jobs and no meaning stresses both the top of the pyramid, where people are looking to make a difference with their lives, and the bottom of the pyramid,where survival needs go challenged with food and shelter. The whole “needs” pyramid starts to get pretty wobbly.

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Samovar as Change Agent


This is a guest post from Joshua J., as leader of our Samovar’s ecommerce strategy.We would love to hear any feedback you have.

We believe that connecting deeply to the present moment, to ourselves, and to others is good for all involved. We practice this way through the ritual joy of tea drinking. There are many paths to living a full and meaningful life, and our path is not for everyone. But every satisfied Samovarian is a living, breathing, drinking, proof that our message resonates. Continue reading Samovar as Change Agent

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One Cup at a Time

My vision is to change the world one cup of tea at a time.

How? Consider where you are right now. In your body. In your heart. In your life. I’m guessing you’ve got dreams that you are striving for, and challenges to overcome. Somewhere, on paper or in your head there’s a list of projects that you chip away at day by day. Some projects are old and stagnant, and others are fresh and urgent.

For those of you not reading this, if you are not getting what you strive for in life then now is the time to do something different. Shatter the routine. Just stop and wake up and change. If you are reading this, then you are probably used to getting what you strive for. Continue on as you have been and chances are good that sooner or later your dreams will come true and your current challenges will yield to your efforts. What then?

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Trade Secrets of Samovar Tea Lounge

For the first time ever, I will announce to the world the secret sauce, the magic of Samovar. It’s Love.

From the day we are conceived until the day we die, the true pursuit of our lives is Love. Seriously. Do you doubt it? Why is it we do what we do? Dig just a little and you’ll find all roads lead to love. Glory? Money? Recognition? Children? Appreciation? Everything eventually boils down to our need for receiving, and giving, Love.  At Samovar, we’re in business solely to create true, deep, positive human connection (Love). It’s fun, rewarding, and actually good for business.

And at the end of the day, Love really is the business. Tea, food, teaware, snacks, sweets, and treats are all just vehicles for connecting us, first to ourselves, and then to those around us. And when the vehicle works like it should, we develop deeper human connection, and that makes us happier and the world go around much smoother. What else is there?

Of course we don’t just show up for work and walk around oozing emotions and hugging every body. We have systems, processes, and accountability measures to know we are doing our job and accomplishing our ultimate goal (creating positive human connection). Motivated by great thinkers, managers, leaders and visionaries, some inspiring resources I have found invaluable in building Samovar are listed in the “Tools” section of this site.

So the first step in the Samovar Way, is that we have a crystal clear “Why,” ie, we know why we exist: To create positive human connection. Next we define “How” to do what we do. And for that I created an acronym that fit really nicely with the concept of drinking tea: WHY RACE.

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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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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.

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Leadership (and Love) Begin in Silence

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

— John Quincy Adams quotes (American 6th US President (1825-29), eldest son of John Adams, 2nd US president. 1767-1848)

In business and in life, we have the profound potential to influence other people, leaving in the wake of our life reverberating actions that can forever positively influence others. Call it what you will: Karma, Cause and Effect, What-Goes-Around-Comes-Around, etc. Whether you’re a supermarket bagger, or a Fortune-500 CEO, the fact is that each and every one of us has an impact on the world and other people, to make a huge and lasting difference. And that’s great – because what else is there really, than love? When it comes right down to it, isn’t what really matters most expressing and experiencing love? For me, love starts with leadership, amongst friends, family, and even in work.

Continue reading Leadership (and Love) Begin in Silence