Seeking Out Excellence

Gerwig 2014-03-28

Bear faces in coffee! A 16oz. Spanish latte from Moore Coffee in Seattle to be exact. Do you remember your first cup of coffee? Perhaps you don’t even like the stuff. You’re a tea drinker. That’s cool. But for many, like me, we’re addicted to coffee. Either to the caffeine or the taste. Or both.

My parents and grandparents drank coffee as did all the adults I was surrounded by in my childhood. I remember as a young boy smelling the beans being ground by an old-fashioned wood coffee grinder with a handle. You put the beans in the top, turned the handle and the grounds went into a small drawer. When you were done, you pulled out the drawer and put the grounds into the coffee machine.

Mostly, I remember my mom taking a can-opener and carefully opening a large can of Maxwell House coffee. It seems like the can held 3 lbs. I know it was a big can and the edges of the metal “lid” were sharp once cut off the top of the can. Once the coffee was used, the can was great for collecting and holding things. Ants, worms, grasshoppers, toy army soldiers, Matchbox cars, lizards, snakes, and so on. I wonder if lizards like the smell of coffee.

One summer while I was in college, I was working in Charleston at a manufacturing facility that made automotive parts. I would drive home to Beaufort on the weekends to see my future wife. Early Monday mornings, I was on the road so I could punch my time card by 7am. I usually left the house around 5am. For a college student, this is basically the middle of the night. And that summer I moved from being a connoisseur of coffee cans and the fragrance of freshly ground coffee to a consumer of java. It was ok. More of a necessity than anything.

Over the years however, I developed a love and appreciation of good coffee. Beans from the Jamaican Blue Mountains, Kona, Indonesia, Sumatra, and the like. Peaberry, private estate grown coffee, you get the idea. But in all the years of my coffee adventures, I’d never had a bear staring me back in the face from the top of my latte until last week!

While in Seattle on business, I looked up some local, highly-rated coffee shops. Two jumped out, Espresso Vivace and Moore Coffee. Yes, I tried them both. Neither disappointed. Espresso Vivace made the best espresso macchiato and doppio I’ve ever tasted. And Moore Coffee not only had a great tasting, and unique, Spanish latte, they put an uber (if you don’t know, look it up) cool bear on top, “latte art” at its finest.

As I enjoyed my Spanish latte, I thought about the distance I’d walked to come to Moore Coffee (over a mile) and the number of coffee shops I’d passed along the way, probably a dozen or more. It was Seattle after all. Why had I come to Moore Coffee? It wasn’t the closest coffee shop to the corporate apartment in which I was staying. It wasn’t the cheapest. It wasn’t the most well-known. The reason I’d come to Moore Coffee (and Espresso Vivace) was excellence. I was seeking out (pursuing) excellence. And I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I was supremely reinforced for the extra effort I’d made. Worth the walk? Yes. Worth the cost? Yes.

Whether excellence is found in a product, a service, a team or a person, world-class leaders know that seeking excellence leads to profound experiences and insights that can be enjoyed, leveraged and built upon. Great followers (as well as other strong leaders) are attracted to excellence.

Excellent teams attract fans. Excellent services and products attract delighted and loyal customers. Excellent organizations and leaders attract. They attract attention, followers and inspection. Others want to know their secret and get in on it.

In a moment of reflection (or caffeine high), I thought about the organizations and leaders to whom I was attracted. I thought about those I’d pursued to be a mentor. I thought about the service and product providers I’d sought out to enjoy a world-class experience. And I thought about those people who have sought me out. For advice, for counsel, or help, for mentorship.

If you’re good at what you do, others will seek you out. They’ll walk the extra mile and pay the extra cost. They’ll want to be around you, work for you and learn from you.

Are you seeking to develop world-class excellence in what you do? Do others seek you out? Whom do you seek out for excellent products, service and counsel?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]


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