Meet Al Keating, CEO of Coffee Supreme New Zealand. He's one of many Xero customers with a cool story to tell.
I’ve always said, “Hospitality is generosity paying attention.” I think coffee is the great leveller. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Donald Trump or a homeless person. You love coffee and you have that in common.
As a chief executive, when I need the information, I know I have access to it, but as far as looking at spreadsheets and pages and pages of numbers, I find that like sort of chewing dry flannels, you know? It’s pretty tough going.
I’m Al Keating. I’m the chief executive of Coffee Supreme and I live in Auckland, New Zealand. When I was eight, I had my first memory of drinking coffee. On Sunday mornings, dad would make coffee in a saucepan and would let us drink the leftovers. I thought, “Yeah, this is a pretty special drink. I could get into this.”
What I love about being a dad I think is probably seeing yourself in your children: the good things and the bad things. But also seeing their own character come about and realizing that you have a part in checking that. That is probably one of the warmest things about being a dad. I think they definitely know there’s something special about coffee. They don’t know it puts food on the table but, you know, they do try and drink the dregs anytime possible, my kids are often asking for a sip.
My career in coffee started when I was sixteen and I got a job in a cafe called Captain Delicious and discovered that this had a future. This is not just a transient kind of hospo job; this is something I can have a career in. I love people. I think more than anything, I love working with people. People are the hardest thing and the most rewarding thing to work with, so I love spotting somebody young and saying, “Hey, you know, I should give him a shot,” or, “I should give him a shot,” and seeing somebody become better at what they’re doing while working here inside the organization.
When we first set up shop in Auckland, we were just me and the warehouse really. I remember having a conversation with the owner about, “Man, we really need to build somewhere we can sit people down and show them some hospitality and I think this site is the site we should do it.” And he was like, “I don’t know if this is the site, you know. It’s tucked away. Shouldn’t it be on the main drag? It’s on a back street, it’s got a roller door for and entrance.” I said, “This is the one. This is where we should do it.” We caught a good one and yeah, it turned out to be a good one. It’s gone on to be, you know, perhaps one of this city’s startings, quite a pioneering joint.
New Zealand is an amazing country, right? Besides Frodo and Lorde. I think it’s pretty rare to find a country where the beach is only a few minutes’ drive away, it’s okay to wear bare feet in the supermarket, you can eat fish and chips on the bottom of your car. I think there’s something beautiful about New Zealand that seems every simple. I know we’re on the arse of the world, but life seems very simple down here and, you know, there’s pretty amazing stuff about this country.
I think that the quote, “Wherever you go, there you are,” is – you know, I think they call it mindfulness and I’ve seen people with little green stickers on their computers and things reminding them to be right there in the moment and I think for me it’s probably just about worry. You know, don’t worry about tomorrow, just be here today. You know, be here right now and worrying can’t achieve anything and doesn’t change anything, so I think that quote really is about just being here, being present, being where you are and not staring out a window which is something that I’m kind of known for: daydreaming, staring out the window.
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