Comedy is a recurring theme in Jeff's life. Whether as a career choice or in his day-to-day experiences, it is those laughable moments that define who he is: a person who can not only laugh at himself, but can make others laugh. Stir in some solid work ethic, and Bear Coast has what it takes to succeed.
Have you checked out the first part of our interview with Jeff? Catch up by clicking here. Then when you're ready for more, keep reading below.
Do you have any skills that are not food-related? I have a laundry list of boring skills! Including, but not limited to fixing my mother-in-law's iPhone that breaks weekly, Photoshop and I am very good at presentations/PowerPoint. But my interesting skills include stunt driving, triathlons and stand up comedy.
Comedy?! I think it is safe to say that by the fact that I am a barista now, that my comedy career wasn't very lucrative. I liked it, but loved my friends in it more. I appreciated what comedy taught me about taking something nebulous and romantic like how to be funny, and helping me boil it down into repeatable and marketable steps. It made things like marketing, business development, employee retention and making good coffee seem less magical. I got to understand that everything has some form of repeatable process to it, which helps in all aspects of life. Even in relationships, there are steps to help increase your chance of making your spouse happy. Including listening attentively, remembering her childhood friend's names, and buying groceries she likes without being asked. Trust me on that second one . . .it is surprisingly important.
But I also got to learn what it was like to be rejected and keep going. Towards the end of my career I was producing shows and growing my following, but my wife asked what I wanted to do when I retired. And I responded, "I'd love to work in coffee someday, when I'm rich." So she looked at me, and with all of her wisdom, suggested I try coffee now instead of waiting. And I haven't looked back, but I miss of of my insanely hilarious friends, who I see far less frequently.
Hardest lesson you've learned: Knowing what it feels like to reach your limits. There are days you will just suck. You can't control it, but sometimes you will just be bad at something. Even if that thing is something you are normally great at. And I had to learn that those days are a part of it. As a business owner, you will make mistakes.
As a comedian, I had tons of days I was just not funny. Even with jokes that were proven to work. It was unavoidable. Failure is a bad word though, I think it is just meeting your limits. Limits are hard, and limitations adjust based upon skill and time. But trying to be ok with where you fall short is very hard. Every day I strive to be the best dad/husband/barista/person I can be, but sometimes I just fall short. And those are also the days that my pants don't fit anymore, for some reason.
When you're not at Bear Coast, what are you doing in your free time? Running with my dog, helping my wife with her business, watching our daughter and reading tons of fiction. I love some good sci-fi.
Last book read or last movie watched; how was it? Frozen. And, according to my 17-month-old, it is still as amazing the eighth time as it is the first time. And the last book I read was Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. It was rad! Like a sci-fi Count of Monte Cristo.
Where did you grow up? If you're not from Orange County, what brought you here? Cars and school. I was born in Detroit. My dad works for Ford, so they moved us out here so he could on Ford's west coast media relations. But specifically we moved to Orange County because of the schools. My family is a big believer in public schools, and University High School in Irvine is ranked as one of the best around. We moved for cars, but stayed here to get educated.
What's your favorite childhood memory? Building forts! I built forts out of pillows, out of snow in Michigan, and once my twin brother and I even thought we could dig underground to build an underground fort. Fun fact: If you want to make the fort puff out when using sheets and pillows, use a fan to blow air in there, so that it puffs out like a hot air balloon. More room for activities.
I hear your wife is pretty crafty as well. Yup, she is crafty in the non-shady kind of way. She has an etsy shop that has expanded into a full-blown retail business. It is called Saturday Morning Pancakes, named after her favorite playlist of happy songs she listened to in college. She sells whimsical home goods that are very light-hearted and influenced by our family's nerdiness. Examples include Star Wars baby onesies, Shark Week pillows "Live every week like it's Shark Week" and a new line of toddler t-shirts with 90s rap lyrics on them. I love those last items, especially the one that says "Regulators mount up" with a tricycle on it.
I married my wife for her intelligence and optimism (and also because she is hot), and I love that this business is an embodiment of her optimism. She left her job in gang prevention to do this full-time, and has since been the main bread winner for our little family. She keeps growing the business, and we recently got invited to sell our stuff at the Reno Comic Con. She is such a strong woman, and the best possible example for our daughter Maddie Mae. It's fun seeing people ask my wife what her education is and what she does now.
"I have my Masters in Psychology, and now I make Star Wars pillows." "Why do that with that education?" "Because it makes me happy." (and it is at that point that her husband beams with pride)
Last thing you looked up online: How to cut my own hair, but my wife caught me before it could really pan out.
Last song playing on your radio: Two things: An audiobook of Heinlein's original Starship Troopers, and also the latest album from Casper Babypants.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business? Stay at home dad. Or space cowboy.
Is there anything you'd like readers to know that we haven't asked? Even though this isn't the hardest thing my wife and I have learned, it is one of the most important. Don't feel like you need to delay happiness in your life. A.k.a. don't wait to retire to do what you really want to do.
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SHOW ME HOW
If you find joy in a line of work, no matter how ridiculous it seems, you owe it to yourself, to your friends and to your family to aim for that joy. Because there is no use in being a rich version of yourself who is over-worked and miserable. She and I have both been there, and there is something in our society that makes us all think that we need to work ourselves to sheer exhaustion to really be worthy. That is dumb. Bragging about how tired you are is dumb. People who are reading this and think I am dumb, are in actuality dumb. Get plenty of sleep, take vacations, work hard and enjoy your job.
Besides that, the fact that I wanted to say that I am thankful to my wife, family and to Dawn/The Cellar staff for helping me make Bear Coast a reality. This is hard, but all those people make it fun.
Stay tuned because Bear Coast Coffee seems to be gaining enough momentum to handle its own location. And 2015 looks to be the year that will make it happen.