Friday, June 24, 2011

Diehard Tea Lovers Unite!!

Sometimes it's really good to laugh at yourself and I have to say that I laughed out loud when I found myself really convincing a good friend of mine that it makes absolute sense to travel with your own tea travelers kit. However, I'm not referring to any tea travelers kit but rather the diehard tea lover travelers kit or more affectionately known as the DTK.

I'm a good packer. I rarely check in any bags on the plane and I travel with only the sole essentials. When I travel for more than a weekend I tend to pack a little more and take 2 carry-on bags on the plane which obviously means that I am bringing more items with me. I try to prepare for a few things such as torrential rains by packing a jacket and umbrella, scathing heat by packing shorts and a t-shirt, unknown toiletry situations by packing my own soap, and bad tea by packing my own electric tea kettle, mobile teapot and travel size tea.

The general consensus is that I'm going overboard with the electric tea kettle and I have to completely disagree. On this particular trip I developed a gnarly sinus infection and it kicked in quick! I knew that the only way to naturally combat the sore throat and pain which was sure to come would be with a really hot organic lemon and ginger green tea. Well, rather than having to fiddle with the coffee maker in the room and their horrible selection of terrible tasting teas, I jumped into action with bottled water, an outlet, the kettle was done boiling in seconds and the mobile teapot was filled with tea from the travel size tea and water. Within a minute, I was on the bed giving the sinus infection the finger DTK style.

I only really laughed at myself when I sat on the bed and looked at my tea set up just to realize that either I'm the smartest person in the world or a dork in the making. Either way, the sinus infection had met it's match.

- Posted by Martin using BlogPress from my iPad2 at 9:00pm CST Sitting at 30,000 feet and Happy to be on my way back to Dallas to Sleep in my Bed.

Location:World Way,Los Angeles,United States

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Tie or to Bow Tie: That is the Question

I know that most of you typically shun the bow tie experience and until recently I felt the same way. However, after having been forced to put on a bow tie, which my colleagues shoe horned me into, I actually grew to love it and have added it to the wardrobe portfolio of accessories. So, here is my story.

We were recently shooting the new commercial for the Village Tea: More Flavor Less Etiquette campaign and the question of wardrobe came up. In my usual stance against all unnecessary formalities, I wanted to showcase a relaxed image and selfishly suggested my everyday jeans and nice button up. Apparently my suggestion was not well received due to the silence that lingered for an unusually long time. I could hear someone in the back mumble "awkwarrrrd".

My reasoning against dressing up in general is that since I was 22 I have been in a suit and tie or some sort of formal wear within a professional environment. Now, at 34 and in the middle of my own venture, if I wanted to wear flip flops and surfer shorts with a t-shirt to work I feel that I've earned it. I firmly believe that what you wear speaks volumes as to your personal style but ultimately its not what you wear that determines if we'll do business together but rather your attitude.

Needless to say, after much kicking and screaming the tie was on, the suit and cuff linked shirt was on, the dress shoes were on, and while I was being encouraged like a 3 year old that I looked great and didn't look silly it wasn't until I saw the final images that I turned the corner. I am not above admitting when I was wrong so I admitted it via email and quickly turned on my spam filter and added my team's email addresses to the filter for a few days.

Disclaimer: tieing a tie is an art and requires some sort of delicacy which I don't have mastered just quite yet. The image above took us about 30 minutes to create because no one knew how to tie a bow tie and we quickly jumped to youtube to figure it out. Which brings me to another topic: what did we do before tutorials on youtube?

- Posted by Martin using BlogPress from my iPad2 Sitting in my Hotel Room in Los Angeles at 7:30am PST Working

Location:W 96th St,Los Angeles,United States

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Down with OPT?: Other Peoples Tea

I frequently get asked the question, Martin with your tea company do you drink other people's tea? Actually, I do and all the time. So the next question is why? Usually my answer is, well duh! Don't you have to know other people's tea to figure out what to create? My answer has evolved in the last 2-3 years to this. There are other tea companies that really create outstanding tea that I will probably not ever have in my portfolio due to the complexity of the final product. Bottom line: i love good tea and when you find it everything is right in the world. For us, the trick is not to be all things to all people but to find our niche and knock it out the park. Our niche has always been simple teas with robust flavors in earth friendly white packaging and we own that niche.

I remember a time when I was working for a beverage company and our company tennis league was just finishing its tennis match. We went to the club house and I asked for an Ozarka water to quench my thirst. When I turned around with bottle in mouth guzzling the water down as fast as possible the look I encountered was one of astonishment and disgust as though I stripped down naked and walked around the club house asking for hugs. "Why are you drinking Ozarka?" was the first question. I responded "because there was no other water there and I happen to like it". Did I say it with some attitude? Yes, ok but I was slightly offended that I was being questioned about my beverage choice.

After that day, there was an obvious tension in the building and in the league as word got out that I was cheating on the company with another water company. The word rose to the top of the company and the senior vice president asked me to stop.

I took that learning and went against the grain fully with my own company to embrace other tea company products so that I could understand what makes them better and or worse than my product. Additionally, I really wanted to support the industry and it's efforts. Do I want to have customer loyalty? Absolutely and I think I do! Our customers love our product and are staunchly loyal but how will I know why they are loyal until I have tasted what they have had in the past or what they love now? It reminds of the saying "Walk a mile in my shoes and learn my story".

Thankfully, and in my unbiased opinion, my tea has always been better anyway.

"Yeah, you know me!" (the second half of that Naughty by Nature song)

- Posted by Martin using BlogPress from my iPad2 Sitting in the Dark in his Office at 2am Working

Location:Dallas,United States

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

They Sleep We Grind

Not every person works in the same manner as the other.  Why is a 9-5pm work day the staple if your best time to get work done is at 11PM?  It's almost as though corporate america expects this staple to fit every person the same way.  Do you really do your best work in the hours of 9 and 5pm?

For those that know me, they know that I am mostly a night owl.  My business partner and best friend is always surprised when I respond to an email at 8 or 9am in the morning because he knows that I mostly work till 3 or 4am and then sleep until 9 or 10am then reset.  I have been criticized by others that say I am not getting enough sleep or I'm working myself to death and at times I get concerned and ask myself am I really doing myself a disservice?  I run a small business with an outstanding team but even with the team there just isn't enough hours in the day to get everything done so I push myself to complete tasks.  

When I was working in corp in exec positions I found it frustrating that I would get criticized if I wasn't looking busy during the 9 to 5pm time when in actuality I would take the work home and crank it out on my desk in my office without several distractions etc.  Everytime I utilized my method my work was outstanding but the opposite was true when I was in a cubicle that provided no creative juice.

So now with running my own business, I work at the most optimal time that is most comfortable to me.  Sadly, not everyone on my team works the same way which means they have to adjust to me when I send emails at 2am.  So am I creating my own culture and forcing those that work with me to work from 10am - 3am?  Probably.  So maybe I am part of the problem.