We had the good fortune of connecting with John Pierson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Ever since the founding of Servant Coffee, I have tried to value a healthy work life balance. Over my first 15 years in energy, I received a great deal of wisdom and sound advice from older colleagues who stressed the importance of not placing too much importance on what you accomplish at work. I consistently heard similar messages from very successful individuals who achieved great heights in their professional career but their home life left a lot to be desired. Their marriage was on the rocks or their kids barely knew them from all the long hours and traveling they did through the years. These messages carried a great deal of weight for me, and I feel incredibly blessed to have had that wisdom in my early years of marriage. My wife and I had kids a bit later in life and so we feel lucky to have learned from those around us who we trust. Having a healthy work life balance means something different for everyone, but clear communication from the outset is an essential component for trying to start a business. You have to define your priorities and boundaries early on because it’s hard to turn it back once you start down a path. What should our readers know about your business?
In terms of business, I almost can’t think of a time that I didn’t have a job. My parents encouraged me to referee little kids soccer games when I was 12, and from that point forward I always loved working hard to earn my own money. I loved and cherished the freedom that it offered. I worked through a serious of different jobs in high school and then interned with a company in Houston one summer while in undergrad, the same one I would eventually join full time after graduation. I worked for the same oil and gas company for nearly 15 years, FMC Technologies (now TechnipFMC). I spent my first 10 years in Houston and then got married and took a position in London. We would spend just over 5 years there. The early part of my career was not easy, I was working in engineering and did not completely love it. It taught me a great deal of lessons and although it was a benefit learning about the engineering side of the business, I really came into my own when I was able to work in sales and deal directly with clients. I thoroughly enjoyed the strategy side and developing a plan to win business. The bigger picture of the company always more interesting than learning how to design the next valve. I also enjoyed learning more about the financial side of the business and how we built pricing to achieve certain margins. What business did we want versus what business did we need. During the second part of my career in business development I received my MBA and it only furthered my interest in strategy. These lessons from the energy industry gave me so many tools that I apply at Servant Coffee now. Even though the industries are completely different, there are similar principles that apply. Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When it comes to Denver, there are some immediate spots we love to take visitors. If we had a week then we’d certainly mix in some time in the mountains as well. We’ve only been in Denver a few years so we are still learning, but my wife and I love some of our local food spots…….Sushi Den, Satchel’s, Fruition & Hoja just to name a few. And when you think of Denver, you immediately think of local craft beer…….Cerebral, Our Mutual Friend, & Baere (there is almost a brewery on every corner). Another favorite of ours is ice cream, and it’s hard to beat the Little Man suite of shops around town. Our favorite is in our neighborhood, Sweet Cooie’s, with some of the greatest decor as a confectionary shop in the 40’s. Weather and outdoors play a major role in the city so we always love taking the kids to Wash Park or over to the foothills near Golden for a hike. With enough time, we always venture out to the mountains with visitors…….whether it’s winter time for skiing or summer time for hiking and mountain biking. One of our absolute favorite spots in summer is the shore at Lake Dillon, there’s a beach area and cove. We take the paddle boards out and the kids love it! We also find new hikes to explore all the time, and it’s easy to find areas where you’ll never see another person. Colorado offers endless activities and it’s easy to see why people move here. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Above anyone else in life, my wife Sarah deserves so much of the credit for what I’ve been able to accomplish at Servant Coffee. I threw her a massive curveball when making the decision to start a coffee roasting business instead of going back into the energy industry. I even told her once that I could never see myself as an entrepreneur. She stood by me with her support and even helped design our roasting space. Her creative talents far surpass mine and more than anything her love and devotion helped create a foundation for us to build Servant Coffee. She also has a heart for those less fortunate in the world, and her attitude is what inspired the name behind Servant and how we look to serve others. She deserves a great deal of credit because we wouldn’t exist today without her.