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will shurtz

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?