The View

Each and every month I experience a personal struggle: I have the privilege / chore of writing this article: a “love-hate” relationship. I dread doing it and love it when it is finished. It is not that it is that “hard” — it is only about 800 words. My challenge is choosing the topic. It is a really good thing I have a monthly deadline. Otherwise, between my ADHD propensity to work on a million projects at the same time and my membership of the “procrastinators extraordinaire” club, I am not sure I would ever “finish” anything!

So I am excited to have selected the topic of “Involvement” for this issue. Involvement comes in countless forms: being a member of a committee, a board, a class, a family, a neighborhood, an industry and the list goes on. In the spirit of involvement, (and a desire to engage my tween in a conversation that goes beyond the standard yes, no and I don’t remember) I asked my 12-year-old son Ryan, “What does involvement mean to you?” His response: “Involvement means being part of a group and the group can do things I couldn’t alone.” When I asked if being involved was a good thing for him, he said “Yes, I might learn something new. Also the group needs me and I could help accomplish something.” His answers were spot on and I believe true for all of us. All of us, as “members” of the coffee industry, have abundant opportunities to experience the benefits of being involved.

Benefits of Being Involved
•    To grow both personally and professionally
•    To learn by being exposed to new ideas
•    To expand past our own personal viewpoints and see things from others’ point of view
•    To feel the emotional connection with other members and share in the sense of accomplishment in helping to improve our industry
•    Our businesses enjoy the side effect of having many more connections as a result of our involvement – networking is great for business

Important to remember, however, is that Involvement is a two-way street… there are group-to-individual dynamics as well as individual-to-group dynamics. In the best-case scenario everyone benefits. Individuals feel connected, a part of something larger, like they have a voice. The “group” together accomplishes more than any individual could alone. Goals are met, and everyone walks away feeling better for the “involvement.”

On the flip side, Ryan reminded me there is a potential downside to being involved – “I might annoy the other people in the group.” An important point as I have been guilty of this and future group involvement may become limited. My lesson learned: In my passion to “accomplish or improve something,” it is wise to not become so opinionated and/or “loud” that your membership in that or future groups is jeopardized. My apologies to some of my past groups. That being said, I am excited to have returned from the recent SCAA Leadership summit. Congratulations to SCAA on hosting the best ever SLS meetings where there was a real sense of professionalism, connection, and accomplishment. SCAA membership and volunteerism should be one of your first stops in your search for becoming involved!

Just a few industry opportunities for involvement…
CQI announced at the SLS meetings the launch of a gender initiative. If this new initiative is anything like their Women’s Leadership Program from ten years ago, I recommend women jump on the opportunity to be “involved.” Being a member of that group shaped my future; I would not be where I am today personally or professionally without having had that experience.

Professional Competitions – There are a multitude of competitions and participation equals involvement! Be sure to see page 10 for the thoughts of the 17 finalists in the America’s Best Espresso Championship. Each individual there has grown from the experience. David Yake of Tony’s Coffee’s comment struck me – “Even after 43 years of roasting, we’re still in awe of all that there is to learn about coffee.” Well-said David! May we all continue to be involved and learning!

Create your own opportunity to involve your customers! Roasters and retailers who take the time to educate their customers are creating win-win scenarios where consumers are more willing to pay the “sustainable” price needed for producers to earn a living wage because they understand the complexity and value of the supply chain. Be sure to check out “A Roaster’s Secret Weapon” on page 16 to see a truly innovative tool for roasters to “involve” their customers in our industry with positive effects for the roasters, the consumers, and the producers!

Finally, if I had to pick a single person that would be the personification for involvement, it would be Rick Peyser. It was his desire to be more “involved” that led him to an origin trip that would change his life and I believe our industry. As he says on page 14, “I learned about organic certified coffee, cupped it, met the farmers who grew it, visited their farms, and was introduced to their cooperatives. It was a life-changing experience for me.” That was 20 years ago and Rick has recently retired from an incredible career helping Keurig Green Mountain have positive impacts in their communities. But his involvement hasn’t stopped. In fact his schedule seems to be even more intense in his retirement. The explanation is easy. “We will prevail if we work together to face these challenges by investing now in long-term, sustainable solutions. I plan to remain very active in helping coffee farming families to develop the tools they need to succeed and thrive in an industry that is facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges.”

The opportunities for involvement go on and on, all you need to do is look around. The benefits speak for themselves. May we all follow Rick’s leadership and be involved!

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