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How to Be Good: It's So Obvious That It's Not

Screen-Shot-2015-03-18-at-9.45.39-AM-769x439 For some reason, whenever I go grocery shopping, I find myself drawn to a random row of product in the baking aisle. The “weird flours,” if you will. I always wonder about the people who are purchasing those little bags of coconut flour and hazelnut meal. “What are you doing with all that chia seed,” I find myself wondering. It’s like they’re all part of some kind of super secret culinary club.

Don’t mind us. We’re just hanging out in inconspicuous packaging on the middle shelf. Move along. Nothing here to see.

Except it turns out there is. Well, maybe it’s not something to see, but it’s something to hear. It’s their story. And it’s a really, really great story.

I stumbled my way across this video last week, not realizing who it was for. The wisdom captured my heart, and by the time the brand reveal hit, I was sold. They could have been selling earplugs or cardboard boxes for all it mattered, but as it happens, they’re selling the weird flours — and the man (and philosophy) behind those weird flours is pretty dang awesome.

I may never have a use for coconut flour, but I’m going to find one. If for no other reason than the world needs more Bobs.

"It’s so obvious that it’s not – how to run a business, that is. First, make something you love. That way it’s hardly work at all. Then make it as well as humanly possible. Pour your soul into it. Your back, too. Focus on the thing and not the money. That’ll generally take care of itself. Do it honestly, with integrity. Tell the truth, no mumbo jumbo. Don’t get greedy. Don’t cut corners. Smile whenever possible. And treat people with respect; your suppliers, your employees , your partners…most of all, the people who buy that thing. Charge a fair price, just what you need to keep going. Then keep things going, even when you could cash out. Why? Because way back at the start, there’s another obvious thing even geniuses forget. That thing you make? that thing you love? It should be a good thing in some way. After all, isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why we’re here? To help one another. To add something. To make folks a little happier, a little healthier for doing what you do. And here’s one last obvious thing. If all goes right, you turn down all the deep pocket suitors and just give the operation – the whole shebang – to your employees instead. Okay, maybe that last part isn’t obvious…to anybody but Bob."

Why the Future of the Workplace is No Workplace at All

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 1.15.03 AM Lately, I have been sifting through an endless stream of posts about the things that influence workplace happiness and theories about what employees really want. From the perks of good coffee to the merits of standing desks to the endless debate about whether open offices are amazing or awful (I tend to be in the latter camp on that one), there are a lot of studies and a lot of opinions floating around.

Niceties are nice, but at the core, I think this entire conversation is spiraling and sidestepping a much larger reality. We're standing on the edge of a huge and inevitable cultural shift; a shift I believe will have at least as large an impact on American culture as women forgoing stay-at-home motherhood in favor of entering the workforce.

Quality of life is no longer limited to a simple matter of income. For years we've been told to strive for a work/life balance, but people are finally waking up. They're realizing that balance is bullshit, and life shouldn't take a backseat to their jobs. The result?  A slow and steady  workplace evolution is taking place to match the shifting priorities of the talent companies are looking to hire and keep.

The single value that's driving it all? Autonomy.

This is the part where I tell you I'm clearly biased on this topic. I work for an agency that grants me the ability to work remotely from 500 miles away. They put their full trust in me -- and I do my best to show my gratitude by working hard and doing everything I can to make sure I never give them a reason to doubt our arrangement. (But I'll save the lessons and learnings on remote employment for  another post.)

Over the last couple years of remote employment, I have learned it's a topic that currently gives a lot of people (primarily people in leadership positions) serious indigestion. How does that work? How do they know you're doing what you're supposed to be doing? And while there are many parts and pieces to the logistics (from Skype meetings to workflow systems), the crux of those polite inquiries really boils down to this: How can I have a 100% guarantee that a remote employee is doing what they're supposed to be doing? 

The bad news is: you can't. The good news? That reality is nothing new or different.

From a recent post on Quartz:

“We have this factory model, and we think someone’s working if they show up in the morning and they’re not drunk, they don’t sleep at their desks, they leave at the right time. But that has so little to do with what you create. And we all know people who create a lot without fitting into those norms.”

Research indicates employees greatly value autonomy. This is part of what’s driving millennials to leave traditional offices and go out on their own. “It’s a cultural phenomenon,” says Alex Abelin, co-founder of Liquid Talent.“Everything is pointing in that direction. We care more about mobility and independence.”

As my dear friend Heather Whaling once said, if you can't trust people to work without you standing over their shoulder, you've hired the wrong people. That's a people problem, not a process problem. So, that nervous feeling you're getting in your gut as you read this? In the wise words of a tundra princess, let it go. That thing you're fighting against is already happening and it's happening fast. You've only got two choices: embrace it and thrive or push back and find yourself way behind the curve five years down the road. (Remember all those people who once claimed the internet was just a fad and email would never catch on? Yeah, nobody wants to be those guys. And nobody wants to work for that company.)

Don't worry. I'm not going to leave you feeling exposed in the harsh light of a new dawn. I've put together a few thoughts on why this is all really a good thing for business:

Remote allows you to tap into a bigger, better bucket of talent. Hiring is hard. Finding that perfect person who is a great cultural fit with the just-right skill set is hard, hard, hard. When you do find that person, the chances they'll live locally are rather slim, which leaves you with a couple options. You can try to woo them and pay for relocation expenses or you can settle for whoever you can find locally.

In many instances, embracing job relocation isn't as simple as saying "yes" to a great offer. The reality of spouses, children and home ownership all factor into the equation for job candidates. And rightfully so, these things often take precedence over a new job.

I do not believe geography should be the determining factor when it comes to new hires. If I'm a client, I don't care where my designer or copywriter sits -- I care about the creative talent they bring to the table. Whether they are bringing it from Baltimore, Bakersfield or Bangladesh makes no difference to me.

By offering employees a more flexible working arrangement -- the ability to work from anywhere -- you open yourself up to welcoming new and stronger talent onto your team. Instead of just hiring people who can get to your office, you're suddenly able to hire people who get you and want to be a part of what you're doing.  You're building a better, stronger company, not just a "based-in-wherever" company.

Early adopters will become the winningest brands. Times are changing -- fast. The companies currently getting cultural and technological infrastructure in place to support the forthcoming era of the "mobile workplace" will have first dibs at the best talent. I predict the autonomy offered by the mobile workplace will be a part of the culture of all brands on the Top 100 list within the next few years. Why? Because it's a perk that is going to appeal to top talent. And top talent is what drives the creativity and innovation behind top brands.

More people in more places means more new business opportunities. Your employees are some of your best ambassadors. They're a living, walking, breathing extension of your brand. Whether they're volunteering in the community, chitchatting on a cross-country flight, attending a gallery opening or striking up conversation in the grocery store line, they carrying your brand's message out into the world every day.

Local has become a big thing -- even beyond the riveting land of local kale. Many brands are now placing a high priority on partnering with agencies who have people in their local community. That becomes a problem when all your people are located in one city -- and your client is across the country. A remote workforce expands the number of locations where the message spreads simply by increasing the number of pinpoints your people dot on a map. When you've got team members embedded in Houston, Omaha, Bismarck, Columbus, Portland and Charlotte, you can cover a heck of a lot more local ground. More people in more places = more opportunities to start the local conversations that lead to new business opportunities.

Remote teams reduce overhead costs. The thought of centralized offices going extinct is a big pill for many to swallow. But in reality, as the workforce decentralizes, the expense of retaining and maintaining space for exclusive use is going to make less and less sense. Energy costs will likely continue to climb, and leases in desirable areas will keep rising. With the advent of technologies that allow incoming calls to be seamlessly forwarded to mobile lines, even ease of communication is no longer a compelling argument in defense of a permanent office.

Having said that, the need for employees to gather and meet as a team (or with clients) will endure. If I had a big chunk of change to invest, I go all in with coworking spaces in creative communities. Not only do these spaces provide affordable place to gather and groove, they offer the ability to collaborate and connect with people beyond your team. Win-win-win.

What are your thoughts? When it comes to the remote workplace are you eager to adopt or hesitant to embrace? If you're a remote employee, what do you like about it? If you're an employer, what are the pros and cons in your mind? 

8 Badass Columbus Female Founders You Should Know

female founder collage Columbus has been named the seventh best city in the country for female founders, a top 10 city for small business and the best city for working mothers. Whatever you call it, there's no denying that we have some mighty talented, badass, creative female founders in our midst -- and they're not only doing great business, they're doing great things for the Columbus community.

If you haven't met these ladies, you should. If you don't know them by name yet, you will.

Allie Lehman, Death to the Stock Photo Something about Allie Lehman's photography makes me feel like we're all living in an eternal state of autumnal bliss on a never-ending Saturday morning. She has such a gift for capturing the subtle, intimate, meaningful moments of daily living most people miss by rushing through life. Not only is Allie a super-talented photog, she's also an author, an entrepreneur and the founder of Death to the Stock Photo, a movement that is changing the way the world views stock photography.

About-Allie-Lehman3allie lehman

Lisa LaMantia, Willow & Wren Color Free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor (aka: the really bad stuff) Willow & Wren is doing nail color in a newer, better way. Alongside classics like Sticks + Stones (a creamy, vampy red) and the perfectly peachy Fizzy Pop (a personal fav), you'll discover an ever-evolving palette of now-inspired shades that rotate and retire with the changing of seasons and trends. From All That Glitters (a gorgeous, glittering rose gold) to Maine Attraction (a vibrant, emerald green that will make you want to get in the car and hit the road), W&W offers a signature color for every style and taste. The passion project of Lisa LaMantia, a local City Planner (and good friend), Willow & Wren has become a permanent fixture on my toe tips and my go-to gift for lady friends. 

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Allison Chapman, Igloo Letterpress If you've never had the opportunity to lay your hands on a letterpress, drop what you're doing and head to Worthington. Look for Igloo Letterpress situated squarely at the intersection of history, wordology and design (39 West New England Avenue). Allison has brought a magical thing to the central Ohio community, and invites visitors to put down their technology and take a step back in time by creating something beautiful and meaningful with their hands. 

1AA CLERK 13igloo letterpress cards

Heather Whaling, Geben Communication Thought leader. Crisis averter. World changer. Do gooder. Of all the things I could call Heather Whaling, I'm most thankful to call her my friend. As Founder and President of Geben Communication, a German Village-based boutique public relations firm, Heather leads a savvy PR team that is kicking ass and taking names on a daily basis. (And moving the needle in a big way for their clients in the process.) With a guiding mantra of "Doing well by doing good," you'll find Heather giving of her time and talent as a tireless philanthropist, mentor to many and friend to the community.

heather whalingScreen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.50.11 AM

Danielle Evans, Marmalade Bleue As I mentioned in a recent post, when it comes to my list of likes, food and typography rank near the top. So it should come as no surprise I’ve got a serious creative crush on the woman who brings both of these things together to create magical, storybook-worthy works of art. If your brand is a foodie brand, drop what you’re doing and call Danielle. If your brand isn’t a foodie brand, after you see her work…you’re gonna wish it was.

Danielle-2014 thewonderjam_for_site

Mollie + Kelly Fankhauser, Kittie's Cakes There are cakes...and then there are Kittie's Cakes. It's easy to tell the difference. Kittie's Cakes are the kind of thing that compel a person to get out of bed, put on real pants and drive across town on a Saturday morning because you know the rest of the city is going to see today's Instagram and race to German Village to buy up whatever is left. (Not that I would know anything about that.) When it comes to these former-golfers-turned-bakers, it would be easy to love Mollie and Kelly based solely on their product, but the love doesn't stop there. This duo somehow manages to run an awesome business, support several community initiatives and rule the Instagram world on behalf of both Kittie's and their golden child, Linus. Living proof that you really can have your cake and eat it too...and have a meaningful impact on the world in the process.


Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams No list of Columbus female founders would be complete without mention of our Patron Saintess of Creativity, Jeni Britton Bauer. What can be said about Jeni that hasn't been said before? (Probably not a lot, given that her name yields over 91,000 hits on Google.) As she suggests in her book, anyone can make great ice cream. Inspiring an entire city to fall deeply in love with a better way of doing things, however, takes a special person, a tireless spirit and a true passion. For those of us who live in Columbus, we've bought into Jeni's story and better way with each scoop and spoonful. Jeni's isn't just a story about great ice cream; it's the story of the spirit of our community -- innovative, creative, passionate, fun and relentlessly focused on doing, not just being, good.

Jeni jenis




AUTHOR /// Amy Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based Marketing Strategist + Copywriter. Learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter @NoMeatballs.

Build a Smart Company, Not a Loud One: On the Merits of Introverts

big-mouth-769x439 A couple weeks ago, a few of us took a Myers-Briggs test just for fun. Upon the big reveal, we discovered that all three of us were INFJs.

INFJs indeed share a very unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – INFJs will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance. Not only does this personality type need to be able to express their creativity and insight, INFJs need to know that what they are doing has meaning, helps people, leads to personal growth and, all the while, is in line with their values, principles and beliefs. It should also be remembered that at the end of the day, INFJs are still Introverts (I), and their popularity isn’t always welcome – they will need to step back and act the lone wolf from time to time, pursuing their own goals in their own ways. [source]

That intrigued me.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I was a little bummed at first. Despite having a clear understanding of what energizes/energy drains me, my first reaction to my result was a wave of disappointment when I saw that “I” heading up the pack.

But why, I wondered? There is no right or wrong personality type, so why did I harbor a secret hope that I would come out an “E?” 

We work in a industry where “E” is king. Offices are open. Ideation happens on the spot in group brainstorms. And rightly or wrongly, extroversion is often equated with creativity.

“In previous centuries our culture valued quiet integrity and introspection. However, in today’s culture the emphasis on personality and striving to be noticed has propelled the extroverted personalities to be valued. That person speaks fast, loud, and a lot. They think while they are speaking. The introvert, who articulates her ideas in her mind before speaking, is quiet and reserved, has been pushed to the background.

As a result, it is not always the person with the best, most creative ideas that is heard, but the loudest. The result of this has been a loss of ideas and capabilities of some of the finest thinkers in organizations. That is a huge waste of talent that companies can ill afford to lose. Of course an organization will work best if it can harness the best of all employees, both extroverts and introverts.” [source]

There’s little doubt that within the confines our modern cultural infrastructure, the sun shines brightest on the loudest and proudest, but it’s the often-overlooked introverts who often prove to be the true untapped powerhouses of potential. Why do we value noise over quiet? Why do we evaluate potential based on what someone says rather than what they do? Why do we secretly long for an “E” instead of an “I?”

In her TedTalk, Susan Cain talks to the potential and true nature of introverts. The entire video is worth a watch (and a bookmark) — but if you want a sneak peak, here are ten takeaways from the talk (and yes, they’re backed by research): 

  1. It is estimated that a third to a half of people are introverts.
  2. There is a difference between introversion and shyness.
  3. The key to maximizing our talents is to put ourselves in a zone of stimulation that works for us.
  4. Our most important institutions (workplaces and schools) are designed for extroverts.
  5. Kids that do better working alone in school (introverts) are often tagged as outliers or problem cases.
  6. Introverts are most often passed over for leadership positions.
  7. Introverted leaders often deliver better results than extroverted leaders, perhaps because they tend to be more willing to let other people run with their own ideas instead of putting their own stamp on the ideas of others.
  8. Groups of people will almost always follow the opinions of the most dominant person in the room.
  9. There is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.
  10. The best organizations consist of a mix of both extroverts and introverts. More importantly, they create a culture and workspace designed that offers something for both.

But seriously. Watch the talk.

Why "Opposite Day" May Be Your Brand's Golden Ticket to Success

Screen-Shot-2014-10-02-at-9.33.38-AM Once upon a time, a little brand called Warby Parker rocked the universe when they started doing the unthinkable: offering prescription eyeglasses at bargain prices over the internet. In stark contrast to the "traditional" model (pay exorbitant retail prices at brick-and-mortar shops), they flipped the model on its head. No stores. No pushy salespeople. No rush. Want to take your time and browse around online? No problem. Want to take the glasses home and try them out for a week? Go for it.

A few short years later, pretty much everyone is sporting at least one pair of Warby Parkers. For all the naysayers who said it couldn't be done, Warby did it. And they did it awesome. 

Nobody will deny that stylish, affordable glasses are a good thing. But the secret sauce to WP's success is that they saw a need -- and they went after it. They saw a hole in the traditional model -- and they moved to fill it. To quote a wise book, when everyone else zigged, they zagged.

In his article, "The Law of the Opposite," Michael Farrell says:

In strength there is weakness. Wherever the leader is strong, there is an opportunity for a would-be No 2 to turn the tables.

Much like a wrestler uses his opponent's strength against him, a company should leverage the leader's strength into a weakness.

If you want to establish a firm foothold on the second rung of the ladder, study the company above you. Where is it strong? And how do you turn that strength into a weakness?

You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. In other words, don't try to be better, try to be different. It is often the upstart versus the old reliable.


Everyone under the sun has heard of Dollar Shave Club at this point. (If you haven't, rally your fingers and check out their video below.) The premise is simple: for a low subscription fee, you receive quality disposable razors/blades in the mail each month.

Pretty genius.

With 17 million Youtube views, hundreds of thousands of followers on social and an army of rabid fans, I'd say its working for them.

Enter Thousand Dollar Shave Society:

Join us in rebellion against the cheap-as-possible, throwaway shaving products of Internet warehouse clubs. Return to the days of a shaving ritual to be relished, not endured, with the finest collection of shave products ever assembled into a single package.

It appears the gauntlet has been thrown down.

Game. On. 


"Go With the Flow" Is Terrible Advice

It’s 10 a.m. on Monday. Your week is just beginning, and you’ve already made dozens of choices without even thinking about it it. The blue shirt or the white shirt. Splenda or raw sugar. The scenic route or the quick route. Music or NPR. Though it may not always feel like it, we’re experts at making decisions. And every so often along comes a really hard choice. We struggle with it, wrestle with it, agonize over it. We draw lines down the middle of the page with “pros” in one column and “cons” in the other. We create reasons for this instead of that, blue over white, NPR instead of the playlist.

There is an age-old tidbit of wisdom that reveres “going with the flow.” After watching Ruth Chang’s video, it occurred to me that “go with the flow” is just about the worst advice anyone could give. The happiest people don’t go with the flow, they swim upstream. Happy people don’t let life steer them down the path, they head to the top, soak up the view, then take a leap of faith.

It’s 10 a.m on Monday. Your week is just beginning. What will you choose this week?

Be the Oreo

For $106.75 (+$20 shipping), you can become the proud owner of 25 pounds of Oreo cookie crumbs. What does this have to do with marketing, you ask? Let me back up a bit. Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Ohio Growth Summit, one of the premier gatherings of marketing minds in central Ohio. It was two busy days of note taking, networking and aha moments. A session titled, “If You’re Not Pissing Off a Few People, You’re Probably Not Exciting Anybody Either,” caught my eye. As speaker Charlie Wollborg promised us 180-ish slides in in 60 minutes (complete with a shot of the Titanic and the footnote: “Spoiler Alert: It sinks”), I knew we were in for a treat. 

But back to the Oreos.

Over the course of his presentation, Charlie made a point that really hit home with me. Somewhere along the way, someone in the cookie factory looked at the crumbs they were sweeping up and discarding and thought, “We could sell that.” And just like that, trash turned into treasure. (Trash that we now pay for and gleefully sprinkle atop of our ice cream.)

THE BIG QUESTION What is everyone in your industry throwing away? What do people see little or no value in? How can you approach it from a new angle and turn it into a revenue stream?

Be the Oreo, people.

A Brand Building Lesson Courtesy of HGTV

HGTV is my form of meditation. When I need a break from the world, I can always count on them to whisk me away for a couple hours of remodels, renovations and real estate purchases that leave me wondering what, exactly, a 23-year-old couple does that affords them the ability to buy a $700,000 vacation home in Belize. (I hear I’m not alone in this.) If there is one thing HGTV has taught me over the years, it’s the importance of a solid foundation. Let’s be honest. In a world of drawer pulls, lighting fixtures and “smart toilets,” foundations are blah at best. Unseen and unsexy, they’re sort of the girdle of home ownership. But it turns out they’re super important.

Here’s the thing: you can build a lovely home on a bad foundation. You might even be able to live there for years before it becomes evident something is wrong, but eventually you will have to confront reality. And when you do, it will be messy, costly and painful.

Yesterday I read an article about a brand I love. The headline was, unquestionably, one of the worst things I could ever imagine someone saying about a brand: “I Do Not Know On Person Who is Happy at Amazon.” The letter was penned by a current employee with hopes of casting a light on the reality behind the scenes at Amazon. (Suddenly those happy face boxes aren’t seeming to happy.) Sure, it’s possible it’s the handiwork of a disgruntled employee, but I don’t think so. These are the kinds of brutally honest things people send up as a flare when they have a clear vision of what could be, not when they’ve given up.

“Everyone has a time table for quitting. No one says, “I hope I stay here forever.”

“Man, there are smart people here. But they are also smart enough to know that they have been had. That is the thing with smart people, they have high expectations of their work place.”

As incredible as this company is, it’s hard to imagine how much more powerful it could be if anyone here, more than the odd few, were happy.”

Your internal people (and culture) are the foundation of your brand. Sure, it’s tempting to fast forward to paint colors and flooring — the things that the outside world sees on a daily basis — rather than really investing in the basics. It’s fun to build a beautiful house, but if you want to build something successful and sustainable — focus on building a strong foundation. Start from within. 

Ban Bossy, Not Just the Word

Bossy: fond of giving people orders; domineering. Synonyms: domineering, pushy, overbearing, imperious, officious, high-handed,authoritarian, dictatorial, controlling.

With the emergence of the #BanBossy movement, there has been a lot of conversation going on around the word “bossy” lately. While I commend their mission to smash labels and empower girls (and fully believe women have an awesome responsibility to pay-it-forward), the message falls a little short for me. Why? Because inspiring great leadership isn’t as simple as wiping out a word.

By banning “bossy,” the movement somehow suggests that it’s a word, rather than the qualities that define that word, that are holding us back. In doing so, it sends a message that it’s acceptable to be bossy — as long as nobody uses the term. And that’s where I couldn’t disagree more.

Bossy isn’t a badge of honor; it’s not aspirational or inspirational. Bossy is a choice in behavior. Bossy isn’t something to brag about, it’s something to work on. It’s a flaw, not a feature. It’s not exclusive to one gender or the other. And it doesn’t make you a leader, it makes you a jerk.

We don’t need to ban “bossy,” we need to ban bossy people. Suggesting that eradicating the word is going to clear the path for a generation of great female leaders to emerge is kind of like treating a gunshot wound by placing a band-aid over the point of entry. It might stop the bleeding a bit, but it does nothing to address the real problem at the core.

Bossy people are not great leaders and great leaders are not bossy people. Differentiating between the two is surprisingly easy. You’ll find bossy people at the front of the pack dragging everyone behind them. You’ll find great leaders at the back of the pack, cheering their team onward and upward. Great leaders are not ramrods or bullies. They’re not hostile, defensive, aggressive or belittling. They take joy in pulling people up, not pushing them down or running them over.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work alongside some prolific, generous business minds; a mix of people who know how to push and prod, motivate, challenge and inspire. They continue bringing out the best in their people by revealing the way, not by dragging us down the path. No matter how good you are at your job, if you’re bossy, you’re bad at business. Why? Because, as one of my bosses and mentors always says,“We’re all in the people business.”

It’s time we separate the bosses from the “bossies,” but it can only happen if we reject, once and for all, the notion that bossy behavior is somehow indicative of leadership potential. I think we can all agree that empowering the next generation of great leaders — male and female — is about so much more than semantics.

Meet the Vagabond Barista

With his infectious laugh and signature messy bun, Will Shurtz is hard not to notice -- and impossible to forget. He's the kind of person who walks into a room of 100 strangers and leaves with 100 new friends. As the owner and founder of Vagabond Barista, a traveling brew bar that elevates the coffee experience through a blend of craft, care and human connection, Will regularly does exactly that. [Click here to see him in action.] Will and I first met after he made a visit to Brains on Fire to host a brew bar for our team. Five minutes into our initial chat I was pretty much rendered speechless by the profound wisdom, humanity and business acumen pouring forth from an entrepreneur barely over the legal drinking age. In the months since, I've become a loud and proud Will advocate. And I'm not alone in that sentiment. Whenever Will's name comes up, you quickly discover that everyone has a Will story. This is one such story from a mutual friend...

"With everything and everyone, Will is like a child who is tasting cake for the first time. Fascinated, curious, delighted, excited, and totally unaffected by the jaded, cynical, adult world around him. He bought some espresso cups from me a couple of years ago, and it was like he thought they were the best things he'd ever seen or touched. I've known only one other person like that my whole life. The first time I noticed it in my other friend was when, in high school, he sat down at a science lab table with the dorkiest, dandruff-flaking, acne-faced person in school...and engaged in real conversation with him. He listened and asked questions, and was genuinely interested in what this kid, who most of us didn't even know existed, had to say. I think about that day often. I believe these people are just born with a kind of super love for others, and inherently value human interaction over everything else."

I was recently invited to serve as a mentor to entrepreneurial makers at Greenville's Makers Summit. One of the bright spots of my morning was watching people waiting in the Vagabond Barista line. As they made their way toward the front, you could see a physical and spiritual transformation take place -- like their whole being got lighter and happier. They were simply enjoying be cared for in the moment. I've never seen anything like it, and I left that encounter committed to making a stronger effort to be more open-hearted in the way I live, love and interact with others in my own life. Will inspired me to give other people that gift however I can.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if we all made an effort to be more open-hearted in our personal and professional lives. What would business look like if we stopped looking at our jobs as the work we do and started looking at what we do as the daily gift we give?