Yesterday I rode the sharpest curve of my life. No, it wasn’t Deal’s Gap. Not the Beartooth Highway and not the Swiss Alps. This turn was much sharper than any of those. At age 51, I turned my entire life upside down. After working for the same company for 27 years, I turned in my resignation and accepted a new role with a local small business. Beginning April 9, I will assume a leadership position in one of Indiana’s rapidly expanding microbreweries, Upland Brewing Co. No, its not coffee, but the two businesses have many things in common. They are both driven by a passion for their product. They both thrive in a culture of creativity and open exchange. They both honor quality, the craftsman spirit and the special nature of life’s simple pleasures…and they both taste good!
It is not every day that you leave a place for the final time that you first walked into when you were 17 years old (don’t bother doing the math…I took a break from the company several years ago). It was a strange experience. I always envisioned my last day much differently. My fantasies ranged from the Johnny Paycheck, “Take This Job and Shove It,” approach to simply disappearing out the back door without anyone even knowing it was my last day. In the end, it was impossible to keep it quiet, as word spread though the building. Person after person came and congratulated me on my “escape” and my “courage” to make the move. It made me feel a bit guilty that these people cared enough to come speak to me when I had planned to just disappear without a word.
As frustrated as I have been over the years with my employer, this large company has been very good to my family and I left under great terms. I’m sure I will be the topic of conversation today at the plant. Some will think I did an amazing thing; others will think I’m crazy. I have no idea which one is closer to true, but I do know we all have to follow our own path. It was more important to me to push into the unknown than to coast toward the certain. And don’t think for a minute I have abandoned the coffee industry…just sit tight and see what happens.