On Motivation

One thing vital to an entrepreneur is motivation. I've been thinking recently about what motivates me. There are definitely a lot of things but ultimately it comes down to something very simple. During this time of thinking about New Year resolutions and getting motivated to actually do them, I thought it might be helpful to others for me to share what I've been thinking about. Here goes nothing.

Back in September, I heard someone say that he lives his life always remembering, "The world is not yours to save but serve the One whose it is." Just today I found a guy from circa 450 BC who summed things up for me really well. His name was Malachi and he wrote about honoring God like a child would honor her mother or father. He links honor to worship, obediently listening and doing the right thing. In fact, he wrote that those who do not honor God are those who exploit workers, take advantage of widows and orphans and are inhospitable to the homeless.

So, my motivation ultimately boils down to honoring God. It's not a guilt-based kind of thing where I feel guilty if I don't honor Him. Instead, it's a love-based system. God has put a love in my heart (His Spirit) that motivates me to worship, obediently listen and do the right thing. It's this same love that prompts me to get mad and sad in the face of exploitation, profitization, hatred, prejudice and the like. Honoring God is caring about the things He cares about – the poor, the orphan, the widow, the homeless… I would rather spend my life on these people than on myself because I know that will honor the One I love the most.

An Opportunity to Change the World

We're now accepting applications for the Set Up Shop Committee. What does that mean? Here are the details:

Overflow is now seeking individuals to join our Set Up Shop Committee. This committee will work together to brainstorm, plan and problem-solve creative ways for Overflow to become the robust, sustainable organization we were designed to be. This committee will consist of individuals from many different backgrounds and expertise. Most importantly, we promise to make this committee fun and fruitful! No boring, unproductive meetings.

Serving on a non-profit committee is a great way to build your resume, gain work experience you may not be able to gain at your workplace, do something to give back, and make the world a better place. Many of the details for the committee have not been fully developed because we want this committee to be crafted by its members.

If you are interested in joining our Set Up Shop Committee please download the application at: http://www.overflowcoffeebar.org/committeeapplication.pdf. Applications are due January 8, 2010. The purpose of the application is to let us know what you're looking to get out of being a part of the committee. Don't get too stressed out about it or anything. You're not interviewing for a job.

Questions? Contact Brandon Neely at brandon@overflowcoffeebar.org.

Overflow Coffee Bar Wish List

For those of you who might like to give Overflow a gift for Christmas, we've created an Amazon Wish List with some ideas of things we could use right away.  Check it out at http://amzn.com/w/WPX0OXFB5O4P.

Other ideas include:
  • $135 for Amanda to get her State of Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification.
  • Gift cards to Staples.
  • Purchase some coffee beans from us to give as gifts to others.  Suggested donation is $20 per pound (includes shipping).
  • Give an online donation at http://www.overflowcoffeebar.org/
***Currently donations are not tax exempt. When Overflow Coffee Bar receives its tax exempt status from the IRS, all donations will become tax exempt. The status is retroactive. You can give a donation now and then it will become tax exempt later. Please make checks payable to “Overflow Coffee Bar.”

10 Things I'm Thankful For

I've seen others do this and thought it'd be a good exercise.  I'm listing them as I think of them (not in order of importance).

1. Friends and Family - YOU are a huge encouragement as we take risks.  I can't begin to express how much you mean to me.
2. Our donors - YOU are helping to make Overflow a reality.  Every little bit counts!
3. Mercedes (my cat) - She helps me have fun when I get stressed out.
4. Books - I've learned so much this year from reading.
5. The Common Cup - My internship there was invaluable.
6. The American Heart Association - I learned so much from the people there and miss them.
7. The South Loop - for inspiring me each and every day to live life on purpose
8. Coffee - I wouldn't be where I am without you.
9. Facebook - for helping me keep in touch with old friends and get to know new friends.
10. Jesus - I was debating whether to put Him on here because it seems cliche but I can't stop thinking about all the things He's done in my life and done through me to impact others this past year.  I can truly say I'm a better (but not yet perfect) person on 11/23/2009 than I was on 11/23/2008 because of what He's been doing in my life.

The 100th Fan on Facebook

We interviewed Sarah, the person who became the 100th Fan of Overflow Coffee Bar on Facebook.  Sarah is a mom and spends what free-time she has volunteering to help build community.  Here's what she had to say:

Overflow: Why did you become a fan of Overflow Coffee Bar?
Sarah:  I became a fan of Overflow Coffee Bar because I love what they are about! So many people are dying to feel like they are a part of a family/community. They need to feel like they aren't alone in the world. To be able to come to a place and sit and have a simple cup of coffee or tea and build relationships with the people there may be the very thing that keeps them keeping on!

Overflow: What is your dream for Overflow Coffee Bar?
Sarah: To see it be a place where people come in for coffee and leave feeling loved, cared for, needed, wanted. Way more than they bargained for!

Overflow: What's your favorite coffee or tea drink?
Sarah: I love mochas, yum chocolate and coffee in the same cup. What could be better than that.

Overflow: What's your passion? What keeps you up at night? What brings tears to your eyes?
Sarah: My passion is seeing people loved unconditionally. Watching someone who hasn't been loved and seeing their whole life change because they realize that someone loves them just the way they are is just amazing to me. Someone did that for me, so now I live to do that for others.

Overflow: What kind of art do you like to appreciate?
Sarah: I am the most non-artistic person on the planet. I am creatively challenged and I don't even really ever stop to look at art. BUT this past weekend for the first time I watched someone paint on a blank canvas and when they were done, I was amazed. Watching them create something out of nothing just spoke to me. It was like they were telling a story with each stroke. I was moved to tears as they painted and created this picture. I may not be able to create anything but I sure do get why people appreciate art now. So before this past weekend, I didn't appreciate art much at all, but now I think I will more.

Photographs and E-Newsletter

Photographs from "Think Global, Drink Local" are now available for viewing at www.facebook.com/overflowcoffeebar

The November Overflow Coffee Connections e-newsletter is also available.  Download it at http://www.overflowcoffeebar.org/200911overflowcoffeeconnection.pdf or view it by clicking below.

Think Global, Drink Local: A Recap

This past Thursday (October 29), Overflow Coffee Bar had it's first educational event at the South Loop Wine Cellar.  The event was better than we could have expected!  Thanks to everyone who made it out.  We're already starting to think about the next event...

Here's the night in review:
  • 30 people attended.
  • There were lots of cupcakes, cookies, fruit, and chocolate covered expresso beans.  One of the students there said the cupcakes were the best he's ever had. 
  • Coffee Ambassadors brought some great coffee from Guatemala and Honduras.  A woman said this was the best coffee she's ever had.
  • Tim Taylor spoke about direct trade coffee.  He shared that direct trade is about relationship, excellence and transparency.
  • I (Amanda Neely) spoke about Overflow Coffee Bar's mission and vision for the South Loop: uniting all South Loopers - residents, students and workers - to change the world.
  • There was a great Q & A time and people had some wonderful questions about direct trade coffee and Overflow.
Special thanks to volunteers:
    Eva Neguisse for providing some mood music and
    Matthew Schwerin for taking photographs.  We'll share photographs soon.

Event Planning 101

While it would be impractical to list all the advice I have about event planning, I thought it might be helpful to some to share one piece of wisdom that keeps going through my head as I prepare for Thursday's educational event: "Think Global, Drink Local."  If I've learned one thing about event planning over the years it's:

In other words, don't put anything off until the last minute. 

For example, a very important thing a lot of people forget is thank you cards to send out after the event.  The day after the event, you're going to have a lot of thank you cards to write.  That's why I like to prepare them in advance by making sure I have them, writing return addresses, making a list of who to send them to, and writing some basic verbiage that can be changed for each note.  This will save me a lot of time (and stress) the day after when I want to get the thank you cards out within 24 hours of the event.

One note: thank you cards really mean a lot to people but isn't using paper not very environmentally friendly?  Buy post-consumer recycled cards!  If you don't have an address for someone and need to send a thank you by email, I suggest using http://www.care2.com/ecards/.  They give a donation to save the rainforest for each card you send!

preparing for the event

Currently we have 23 confirmed guests for "Think Global, Drink Local."  We also have over 30 maybes, including an elected official !?!  We only have room for 50 people so get your RSVP confirmed as quickly as possible.  The event is only 10 days away.

To view the event flyer: http://www.overflowcoffeebar.org/OctoberEventFlyer.pdf

To view the event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=149855851497&index=1.

Think Global, Drink Local: Direct Trade Coffee and Changing the World

After oil, coffee is the second most widely traded product in the world. Its impact on human cultures and the natural environment extends literally around the world. It takes hundreds of people to get each coffee bean from plant to cup. Every cup of coffee we buy and drink connects us with a web of hidden stories.

The leading producers of coffee are developing countries in Latin American, Africa and Asia. A major source of income, coffee is critical to their economies. Yet, less than 15% of the revenues end up in their hands. This is roughly 3 cents for your average $3 latte or americano. The United States consumes over 18 million 60 kg bags of coffee per year. We have the potential to change the circumstances for developing counties – getting more revenue directly into the hands of the communities that grow and harvest the coffee beans. Our choices as consumers make a real difference in their lives.

Want to learn more? Overflow Coffee Bar is sponsoring an educational event on October 29, 2009 from 7:00pm to 8:00 at (locally owned) South Loop Wine Cellar. Tim Taylor, a Chicago-based coffee buyer and roaster will share from his personal experience in the direct trade coffee movement. Amanda Neely, Executive Director of Overflow Coffee Bar will share about a new non-profit coffee shop opening in the South Loop.

For more information about the event, download the flyer at: http://www.overflowcoffeebar.org/OctoberEventFlyer.pdf.

To RSVP email info@overflowcoffeebar.org or call 773-919-6960.

Overflow Coffee Connections, October 2009

Here's issue 3 of our monthly e-newsletters. Feel free to download, digest and distribute.

Download or click the image below to view online.

stepping into a new season

Yesterday was the last day of my internship at The Common Cup... Today is the first day of this next stage of the journey.  I'm calling these next three months the "Kickin' it into High Gear Months."  Here's a snap shot of some of the things I'll be doing:

Grant Writing - Starts with research, research and more research.  Then I move on to intoductory letters, phone calls, emails.  After a "cultivation" period, I'll get to start writing grant applications for the "Set Up Shop" Campaign.

Projects - Our first educational event will be coming up on October 29.  We'd love to have another by the end of December.  There are other projects to work on too: blog posts, e-newsletters, board meetings, etc.

Individual Fundraising - We still have a goal to reach for individual contributions.  I'll be doing some more asking people to give.

Business Plan - There are still some holes to fill in our business plan because I need to research and read more in order to plan well. 

Networking - I'm looking to get involved in some of the non-profit activities going on in my neighborhood.  I want to know better what's going on.  We're also networking with individuals who we think might be interested in getting involved in what we're doing.

I'm sure there's more that will be coming up but those are my marching orders for now.  Changing the world takes work - hard work - but it'll be worth it to see the lives changed in the process.

this is me...

This is me processing my deepest thoughts, as inspired by the Re:Form Conference last week:

Fundamentally, I've always believed changing the world is possible.  I've just been on a search for how.  Last week I encountered people who lived by the following truths.

"The world is not yours to save but serve the One whose it is."

"Approach the world more like Chinese Checkers than dominos."  - All the pieces are moving at once toward winning the game.  In other words, "scratch everywhere it itches."

"Respond.  Don't just react."

"Pioneers are often asking, 'where are all the people?'  Settlers are waiting to see if the pioneers survive."

Overflow is an effort to address the world's issues by creating a community of people in the South Loop who join together to actively seek to solve the world's issues by a holistic approach.  We're not just focusing on one or two issues because the issues are connected with one another.  For example, a coffee farmer personally experiences the injustice of slavery and often is connected with issues of education, health, environment and political corruption.  South Loopers also face these same things right in our own backyard.

Just as we must approach the issues holistically, we must also join together as a community in order to have a greater impact.  I'm sick of organizations replicating each others' efforts.  We need to integrate and partner.  We need to lay aside our own agendas and seek the greater good as one voice and one heart.

Aristotle was the one who laid it down, "The whole is more than the sum of its parts."  My generation (Millennials) define ourselves in terms of concentric circles.  Perhaps the holistic approach is a key to engaging and committing my generation to a mission bigger than ourselves. 

Now to put these thoughts into action and see what happens... Stay tuned. 

Go out and change the world.

Naming Our Educational Events

In October we are going to be starting educational events. These events will include: (1) a presentation about direct trade, environment, art and/or volunteerism with practical tips for living a more purposeful life, (2) coffee and desserts, (3) information about Overflow Coffee Bar and how we do the stuff talked about in the presentation, (4) networking, etc.

We need a catchy name for these events. Submit your ideas and we'll choose the one we like to most. Winner gets free admission to the October educational event for you and your guest. Submission Deadline: September 30.
Submissions can be made via the dicussions tab of our facebook page(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Overflow-Coffee-Bar/136490876065), by facebook message or by email.

Bash on Wabash

This weekend the Greater South Loop Association (GSLA) put on the "Bash on Wabash" quite literally on our front doorstep.  We volunteered on Saturday evening by preparing corn on the cob dipped in butter for purchase.  The money from the purchase of the corn went to support GSLA.  We also got to enjoy the festivities with our good friends Phillipe, Karyn and Lucy. 

The best thing about the Bash was who we got to meet.  We made sure we went up to the Alderman and introduced ourselves.  He'd love to meet with us to talk further.  We met some of the GSLA people.  The people we volunteered with were great.  Two (CJ and Mike) worked for non-profits and the other (Steve) writes 2 blogs - one called "South Loop Connection" and the other about classic movies

The Bash has inspired us to create some links to other South Loop groups.  Check out the links on the right-hand side and learn more about what's going on in the community.  If you know of any other links we should include, please let us know.

Overflow Coffee Connections, September 2009

Here's issue 2 of our monthly e-newsletters. Feel free to download, digest and distribute.

Click here for the newsletter.

Have ideas or articles you'd like to publish in our newsletter, email us!

major steps completed today

  • We opened a bank account with the $200 that was given this past weekend. Thanks to all of those who donated for my birthday!
  • We put our 501(c)3 application in the mail for the Federal Internal Revenue Service.
  • Our website went live (www.overflowcoffeebar.org). It's still under construction but it's up!

A few major hills climbed over... now we continue with the fundraising and await hearing from the IRS regarding our application. It can take 2-6 months. Pray for a prompt approval!

2 weeks...

It's been 2 weeks since the first newsletter was published and at least 91 people have viewed the newsletter at least 156 times. That's a lot. Wow! I'm impressed.

We also have 9 followers of the blog and 23 fans on facebook (Overflow Coffee Bar on Facebook).

On the one hand, this is all very encouraging. On the other hand, we still have $0. I mean, people have given $40 but it's already been used for government applications and filings and such. I'm hoping this changes soon because we need the $750 for the 501(c)3 application that I'm almost ready to send in.

Please note: I'm not all about the numbers... I just find them helpful in articulating stuff. We've also been having some good qualitative conversations with neighbors here in the South Loop. It would take way too long to tell you about them all. :)

A Day of Firsts!

Mark it down. On August 1, 2009, Overflow Coffee Bar had its first board meeting and is distributing its first newsletter. This day will go down in the history of Overflow as having special significance.

During the board meeting, we approved the organization's bylaws and I got the go-ahead to move forward with the 501(c)3 application, with opening a bank account and with fundraising.

Click here for the newsletter. Feel free to download, digest and distribute. (FYI, we will not be printing newsletters for mass distribution so as to save trees. We'll be posting newsletters on this blog, sending them by email and publishing them on our future website.)

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

This week...
I crunched lots of budget numbers...
I wrote over 10 pages of stuff for the 501(c)3 application and the business plan...
We had real conversations with 4 people in the neighborhood...
I worked 3 days at the Common Cup...

Check out our brochures being delivered in print today!

Writing from the South Loop...

I'm currently sitting at the Caribou Coffee at 8th and Wabash. I am NOT condoning Caribou - this just highlights the fact that there are no independently owned coffee shops in the South Loop. But that is changing...

In the past week:
(1) we moved into our new home in the heart of the south loop (we unpacked already!);
(2) I visited 3 local banks to find out information about opening a business account (at one bank I talked with a lady for 30+ minutes about everything from banking to religion - very cool);
(3) felt like a real *barista* while working at the Common Cup; and
(4) had an awesome prayer meeting at the new apartment.

There's much more to do:
(a) I have a rough draft of the Bylaws to finish.
(b) I have a few pages of the 501(c)3 application completed.
(c) There's lots of money to raise.
(d) The business plan still has a couple holes to fill in.

Most urgent prayer request: God has put it on my heart to pray for $250,000 from wherever/whomever He'd like to provide from... I've committed to audaciously praying for this provision while still working very hard to raise it from various places over time. Will you join me in praying that God will provide for this venture with $250,000??? (I know how crazy this sounds.)

first day working at home

Today is my first day working all day from home on stuff for the coffee bar. Currently, I’m working a lot on our 501(c)3 application and the Bylaws. I’ve also been doing some networking, following up with our graphic designer and working on our first newsletter. I have a long to-do list to work through.

Our biggest need right now: $750 for the 501(c)3 application fee.

Transitions This Week (June 29-July 4)

This week...

Monday and Tuesday are my last days of work at my 9-5 job.

On Wednesday, Brandon and I celebrate our 3 year anniversary and become no longer newly-weds. Okay, we're really celebrating all week long.

Wednesday and Thursday, I start the internship at the Common Cup from 9am to 4pm. Come visit! 1501 W Morse Avenue, www.commoncupchicago.com

Officially Incorporated

We got the paperwork back on Saturday. We're officially incorporated with the Secretary of State for Illinois.

This means (among other things) that we are able to open a bank account and start collecting donations. So, we're starting our "Set up Shop Campaign" to raise the support we need to purchase equipment and start our lease.

There's more paperwork to complete. Only 6 days left at my day job...


This next month is going to be a time of lots of transition - leaving my job, starting an internship, moving to the South Loop, and finishing a session of Alpha. We are excited, nervous, and sad all at once. But this all means we will be many steps closer to our dream once all of these things have taken place. Plus, you know what they say... "All of life is transition after transition," and "The only constant is change."

Moving forward

Developments within the past five days...
  • The Articles of Incorporation are being mailed to the IL Secretary of State tomorrow, complete with Board of Directors.
  • Amanda officially has arranged an internship starting July 1 at The Common Cup (www.commoncupchicago.com).
  • We met with a local coffee roaster and learned a lot about what they do and who they are. They rock! (www.coffeeambassadors.com).

Things are moving! Very exciting.

On the Need for a Team

Someone I know likes to say, "Teamwork makes the dream work." On the one hand, I've always known this to be true. There isn't much you can do without a team of people coming together to make it happen. This idea of teamwork making the dream work is becoming more and more of a reality every day in the journey towards seeing our dream come true.

On the other hand, I also believe that timing is essential to getting people to be on the team. I don't want to ask someone to be on the team before I have anything for them to do because then their motivation will fade before they actually start doing anything. But it's hard to feel so alone in this because there aren't a lot of people helping yet. I guess there's a balance that needs to be found. We're looking for that balance and hope we find it soon.

More to come...

Working Late on the Weekend

Reality is setting in. I’m still working 40 hours a week while also needing to get moving on the non-profit incorporation steps. So, it’s Friday night and both Brandon and I are at home working on the Articles of Incorporation and their accompanying requirements. Tomorrow I plan to work on fundraising plans nearly all day long. Last weekend I finished rough drafts of 5 years worth of budgeting so now I’ve got to figure out where the money’s going to come from. I’m not complaining, just laying out the facts. Our lives consist of the following activities: 9-to-5 job, entrepreneurial work, sleeping, eating, volunteer commitments and playing with the cat – in that order. I don’t see this changing until after my 9-to-5 job is finished. Maybe then we’ll be able to have a little fun.

The Journey Recently...

It's been a long journey already. Here are the most recent developments.

1. We went to Seattle to get away and do the planning for the church plant and non-profit coffee bar that we know we're supposed to start.

2. While we were there a few people gathered at our home to pray for us. They wrote down things that they felt like God was speaking to them to share with us. When we first got back and read them, we didn't really understand them. For one thing, they were all about me (Amanda) and none of them were about Brandon.

3. A few weeks later, I was at a women's retreat and felt like God told me to leave my job. Immediately, I started crying. "This isn't possible,” was all I could think. I retreated into a corner and "pretended" to read my Bible. While doing so, I remembered the words people had written while they were in Seattle and they all made sense.

4. No sooner had I closed my Bible than a woman I had never met before in my life came over with a cup of tea for me and a cup for her. We proceeded to talk for awhile. Before she got up to leave she said, "I don't know what God is doing in your like but I feel like He's already confirmed it." Now I had the confirmation from while we were in Seattle, hearing God speak to me, and a third confirmation from a stranger. I knew something was going on.

5. I talked over the idea with a trusted adviser and Brandon. We decided that this was probably a word from God and I should leave my job. BUT God did not say when so I could wait awhile until it felt like the right time.

6. What else would happen than a few weeks later my company announcing layoffs by the end of May?!? The whole weekend afterward I couldn't stop thinking, "If they lay people off and then I resign a few months later, I'm going to be a horrible person. There are people who need this job to feed their families and I would let them be laid off while I planned to resign a short while later."

7. After some talking with human resources and my boss' boss, we've come to the conclusion that I will resign effective June 30. I submitted my letter of resignation today. They say I did the right thing. I think so too.
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