Why Putting The Customer First Is Good For Business, With Scott Patterson of ‘Gilmore Girls’
I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Patterson, President/CEO of “Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee”. Scott is most widely known for portraying the grumpy, but lovable diner owner “Luke Danes” for 7 seasons on the show “Gilmore Girls”. Scott recently reprised his role of Luke in the wildly successful 4-episode reboot of the Gilmore series on Netflix. “
Can you tell us about your backstory and how you have transitioned into your current business?
I have been planning a coffee business for a long time. When I was growing up my mother and I sat and drank cup after cup and talked about life. These are very warm memories, for sure. My generation grew up wanting to hurry into adulthood so drinking coffee at 12 years old was not unheard of. When my mom passed in 2008 I started thinking seriously about starting a coffee business as a way to honor her and stay close to her. The archer logo is dedicated to her — the protector.
The great joy about being in the coffee business is you get to drink a lot of coffee every day. I’m always tasting new blends to approve for future SKUs, always tasting the competition, always looking for new ideas. It’s fun to wake up knowing that today you might find a better tasting blend than ever before. That’s happened a few times and it’s exciting. That’s how my five blends came about — years of tasting, searching, and more tasting. It’s not only a passion, it’s my job.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your business?
It was the first time I tasted my Breakfast Blend. We were doing a cupping at the office and I got everyone involved — the accountants, the secretaries, and even a few people down the hall — and we had a conference room all set up. One by one we tasted each blend and it lasted all morning. Some good stuff, some not so good, but we chugged along. I opened a new sample bag and prepped the coffee in the traditional way, dipped my spoon in, raised it and quickly slurped. Then it hit me. A eureka moment. It hit my tongue and the flavor just exploded. The aftertaste was very pleasant, too. It was silky smooth, rich, full-bodied, complex. I said “Wow”, and a girl who works in the office said, “Let me taste.” She tasted and her eyes rolled back and she let out an “Ahhhh”. We had found our signature, drink all day blend. It was perfect. We almost named the blend after her and one day we will name a blend after her. Discovering greatness is exciting. That was a good day at the office
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We had ordered thousands of bags but they weren’t showing up and we were nervous so I reached out to a local company to do a quick bag order to cover us at launch. They were great on the phone, we sent the artwork and they sent a sample bag the very next day, which is remarkable. We opened the package and the bag read “Scotty D’s Bug Lag Toffee”. We were silent for a moment but then had the biggest laugh in recent memory. They got my name right but nothing else. We went with another company who got it right.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are coming out on Amazon in a few weeks with 12 oz. ground, whole bean and K-cups. We are very excited about our Amazon partnership, as they have been great to work with so far.
We also have some initiatives in the pipeline that we are excited to get moving on once we launch on Amazon. Amazon will give us a lot of freedom to execute the many initiatives we’ve hatched to expand the brand both nationally and globally. I can’t go into too much detail, but you’ll know once they launch.
Can you share one piece of advice you wish you would have known before beginning your business?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just plunge in because you’re going to get beat up anyway. Perfection is the enemy of profit. The market will let you know what you are doing right or wrong in very short order. Get your ducks in a row, yes, but don’t nitpick. Just dive in.
Can you share 5 tips that you would recommend to your celebrity/athletic colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out” as they branch into new endeavors?
One tip is don’t do it unless you love it because it gets tedious. There’s lots of daily detail and it can get overwhelming and the thing that saves you is your love for it. Another would be, don’t think about making money just work at being a great company that makes great products. Another tip, learn to recharge the right way. Work out, eat well, sleep well, rise, and repeat. Another is to listen to your people. They have good ideas. Encourage them to share those good ideas. Be a facilitator. Another is, it isn’t about you, it’s about the customer. Never forget that.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Well, I don’t want to start a movement. I just do what I love and be myself. If people like that, then that’s nice and good. I love individuality, free artistic expression and the sharing of that art. I consider my coffee business a perfect blend of art and commerce because at its’ core it is a creative process. That’s what I love about it so much — another opportunity to express love, what I love individually. If I can inspire by example, then mission accomplished. I don’t trust people who want to start movements and desire to sway large groups of people. I love artists. I love leadership by example, not by force or by group pressure. That’s very dangerous. I want to inspire people to be themselves, find what they love to do and express that moment to moment. Imagine a world where each individual was free to express their own unique individuality, their own unique beauty. That’s why I love concerts and music festivals. It’s a hundred thousand people feeling and being beautiful. Far too little of that in the world now as technology seeks to herd everyone into the same barn. I grew up a free, artistic, deeply thoughtful individual that wanted to see the world and all its’ glory, and this is what I love about Millennials — they understand how important that wandering spirit is, that seeker of experience, the importance of connecting with others and the world. It’s vital to living a full life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Give till it hurts and expect nothing in return. This is the very essence of evolution.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom. I got her toughness, her unbreakable spirit, her heart and soul. She held our family together until it broke her. Never saw anything like it. The pure dedication and the work ethic. She even raised a granddaughter. She wasn’t perfect, but who is? I got from her the ability to envision something I wanted in life and then make it happen. She gave me that. I love a challenge. The bigger the better. Turns me on, and I don’t scare. I’m a David in a world of Goliaths and there is nothing that can stand in my way if I want something. When I was younger the only person who ever thwarted me from achieving my dreams was…me. When I realized that I changed.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.
I’ll give you one name in each category you listed. Business — Jeff Bezos. I would only have about a million questions lol, most of them on scaling Amazon and the challenges of executing so many successful initiatives. Corporates structures fascinate me. VC Funding — Chris Sacca, because he balances the businesses he funds with environmental responsibility and I respect that so much. In fact, my KCUPS are 100% compostable and we are very proud of that. Sports — Cristiano Ronaldo. I’d want him to teach me that bicycle kick. Extraordinary. Also, Hermann Maier, Austrian ski racing legend. This guy had already won a few Overall World Cup Titles and was the reigning world champion when he had a terrible motorcycle accident that practically ripped his entire lower leg off his body. Two years later he won another Overall World Cup Title. He did that on one good leg. Maybe the most remarkable achievement in sports history. Entertainment — Noel Gallagher, because he is simply the best songwriter of the last 35 years and because I know what it comes from. It’s why he can write such powerful melodies. Also, Sergio Pizzorno, another gifted songwriter and fellow Gallagher devotee. It’s a lineage. I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid as a coping mechanism and it continues to this day. It’s like breathing to me. These two write songs that resonate quite deeply with me. They possess genius.
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Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee Website:
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on celebrities transitioning into entrepreneurship.