When people would ask me what I wanted to do with my life in the early 2000s, I would often talk about opening a café where people could come and use some really fast Internet, do some work, and enjoy some really good coffee. The thinking was that if I were to make a place like this, then I could have (what appeared to be) a simple job making coffee and serving high-calorie treats to people 30% of the time, and doing whatever on the computer 70% of the time. Since it would be my business, I wouldn’t have to worry about “the boss” getting upset because I’m on the computer all the time, either. As time went on, this idea continued to fester. Now in 2015, it sounds like a plausible solution to a number of issues that I’ve run into over my short time on Earth.
Last April I promised myself that I would do something great during my 35th year, and it materialised very quickly with podcasting. While I’ve not had the luxury of quiet time to record new shows in recent months, the desire to make new things is never far from my mind. The passion to create new things is always at the forefront of my consciousness, but other responsibilities and/or situations tend to stand in the way. To make matters worse, I’ve been too much of a coward to attack problems head on to nip them in the bud long before they consume so much of my time that I have neither the energy nor the opportunity to make. I’ve been an absolute fool, and it needs to stop. I know that I can accomplish goals that once seemed impossible when I put my mind to it, so why not continue to do so?
Dissatisfaction From Intangibility?
I am the eldest of 8 kids and, as such, I was always called upon to find solutions to people’s problems. One of the biggest problems that I would face on a regular basis was the question that billions of people ask themselves at least once a day: what will we eat for dinner tonight. Yes, I was the family cook for several years. My job was to prepare food for everyone soon after returning home from high school, ensuring everyone ate, and then cleaning up after everyone when things were done1. While I was not much of a fan of cleaning up after my family, I did love cooking. There’s just something so wonderful about taking a bunch of edible items, throwing them together, adding heat, and getting a delicious meal at the end.
I like it. I like it a lot.
While growing up I thought for sure that I was going to be an architect. I would spend hours on end up in my room drawing buildings, cityscapes, and large machines that would take us to faraway places. The sketches would be incredibly detailed, showing not only form but function and utility. But then on January 17th, 19942, I was introduced to a single function on a computer that changed the course of my future in an instant3. But looking back at my past, I can see that a lot of people have taken advantage of this passion I have for technology and writing software. I can see that I’ve been an absolute sucker, never valuing my time at what I want it to be worth because it didn’t seem right to ask so much money for something as intangible as a computer program … or a database … or a ridiculously complex Microsoft Excel sheet that is able to predict patterns in inventory movements …
Nobody likes to be a sucker. I get great satisfaction from writing software and from solving problems, but it shouldn’t be like this.
No. I want to make something that people from all walks of life can inspect visually. I want to make something that people can enjoy for a brief period of time and remember afterwards with a smile on their face. I want to provide something that is so uncommon in the 21st century that, when somebody does it, it makes the evening news.
I want to open a café with Japanese-style breads, Japanese-style service, and an abundance of open space for people to sit, relax, work, and enjoy.
The coffee shop could act as a shared workspace or Internet café if people so wanted. It would have fast Internet, awesome WiFi, lots of tables that are big enough for a 15” computer and a half-sized tray for a coffee and treat. Two glass-enclosed meeting rooms would be off to the side, allowing teams to work in silence or converse in privacy if they so chose to. I’d even set up a recording studio if space permitted … though that would most likely just be for me alone.
When I first moved to Japan I was often blown away with the level of customer service one can expect, even when buying gum at a convenience store. I would ensure the same level of service was offered at my store, too. The place would always be clean, and I’d make some excellent foods that I never encountered until coming to Japan. Of course there would be the standard fare like sandwiches as well, but I’d make sure the sandwiches didn’t suck like they do at so many places … with their wet bread and skimpy veggies. No … I’d live up to the same mantra my very first manager at Burger King taught me many, many years ago.
People would be encouraged to work from my café. People would be welcome to stay for several hours if they so chose4. We all need an escape from the everyday sometimes, and I’d be more than willing to help people try to enjoy some semblance of normalcy. My goal would be to offer the sort of place that I want to spend my time in. This means low noise5. This means low tension. This means a place that smells awesome … hence the bakery aspect.
Finally, there’s “the little things” that I would want to look after. I dislike seeing litter on the streets. To help curb the problem, I’d charge 10 cents or more for a paper cup. People really should bring their own. That said, if someone does buy a “fortune cup”, they’ll be treated to a nice message when they reach the bottom. It’ll say something nice, like “You’re awesome!” or “Don’t Forget to Smile” … something to let people know that the world we find ourselves in need not be without it’s little respites.
Places like this are not easy to start. They’re not easy to keep going, either. So the most logical way forward would be to work at a café and see if I can keep up with the demands. See if it’s truly what I want to be doing. I’ll also need to save up to make something like this happen. Going into business with a massive amount of debt is never good for the heart, and I’d like to avoid this as much as possible. There’s also the question of location. I have two places in mind, but would want to conduct a good amount of research before taking the plunge.
There’s still another month to go before my 36th birthday, and I plan on starting that year with a set of clear objectives that will bring me closer to reaching more of those seemingly impossible goals.