Monthly Archives: January 2014

Coffee and the Fear of Failure

I’m scared to death.

This week I’ve done something I thought I could never bring myself to do again.

I’ve jumped back into the coffee business.

I’m scared because the last time I jumped into the coffee business, it ended in failure.

In the spring of 2003, two idealist college grads started a coffee bar at Denver Seminary called Kurios Koffee. Drew Moser and I didn’t know much about running a coffee bar but we were crazy enough to jump into it. For two years it went well as Drew and I were the main baristas along with my brother Ben, who we paid in free coffee.

Then Drew graduated seminary and I bought out his portion of Kurios Koffee. Then I started as a full-time youth pastor and started paying employees to run the coffee shop. Three years later, we were up to our ears in debt and the enrollment at Denver Seminary wasn’t growing as we thought it would with a new campus in Littleton.

So Hillary and I decided to close the coffee shop instead of going deeper into debt.

Kurios Koffee failed.

After all this my business mentor told me, “The worst thing you can do is never try again.”

I didn’t believe him. There was no way I was jumping back in again. I was done.

Fast forward a few years. Edgewater Coffee Company was closing on December 31, 2013 and as a community we needed to find a way to keep the space open as a neighborhood place to drink great coffee and connect with neighbors.

I fought the idea of stepping in for months.

I couldn’t do it.

The last time I ran a coffee shop it ended in failure and debt.

I couldn’t even step foot on the campus of Denver Seminary for years because the feelings of failure were too much to bear.


But something/Someone deep in my spirit was telling me to jump back into it.

So on Monday, January 6 I put my barista apron back on and the nonprofit I lead, Edgewater Collective, assumed management of the Edgewater Coffee House. We are going to see if we can continue the great work of Edgewater Coffee Company’s founder, Gina Hartley, and make the coffee house viable in Edgewater. These days nonprofits are experimenting with social entrepreneurship and ventures that feed profit back into the nonprofit.

It is amazing how my experiences with Kurios Koffee inform my role leading a nonprofit and especially managing the coffee house.

That doesn’t mean that I am not afraid of what could happen.

But fear is a great motivator.

And failure is the best teacher.

I firmly believe and have experienced that the joy of success only comes out of pain of failure.


Developing Your Family’s Mission and Values

Hillary and I have been reading through Bruce Feiler’s new book “The Secrets of Happy Families” and have been devouring it. The ideas and principles are different from any other parenting book yet practically transformative. Definitely worth picking up!

One of the insights Feiler found as he talked to different families was coming up with a list of values and mission statement that are unique to your family. I don’t want to explain the whole process because I really think you should pick up the book. In chapter 3 titled “Branding Your Family,” Feiler dives into how it is important to discover and communicate your family “brand.” So often we develop values and mission for our work but don’t bring those principles home.

On New Year’s Eve, we sat down with our girls and came up with ten values that fit our family.¬†We asked our girls the following four questions from The Secrets of Happy Families:

  1. What words best describe what we want our family to be like?
  2. What is most important to our family?
  3. What are our strengths as a family?
  4. What sayings best capture our family?

We kept the discussion short because we wanted to keep their interest but it was cool to see what was going through their minds. It is so important to have our girls play a role in what our family is becoming.

Now we will hang these values and mission statement by our kitchen table so we can refer to them with the girls.

Here are our Newton Family Values and Mission Statement:

Family Values Poster