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Joel Gingrich

Owner of Death Valley's Little Brother

With over 15 years in marketing & communications Joel made a career shift 5 years ago into the food & beverage industry. He brings a design and production management background and a passion for all things craft. Learning the ins & outs through franchise management he then went independent and opened a local craft espresso & whisky retail space in Uptown Waterloo called Death Valley’s Little Brother. During his downtime Joel enjoys hunting and getting out on his motorcycle. He shares insight into running a small business and getting things done in his interview with Ways We Work.

What do you do?

I co-own and manage Death Valley’s Little Brother with my wife. I also continue to do design projects for a few clients.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

Blogs, industry websites, Twitter and Facebook make up the online portion of staying on top of trends but visiting cafes in other cities is pretty important as well to see what others are doing. We were in San Francisco a month ago and saw some great things being done in cafes that I haven’t seen here. We also go to industry trade shows and events to see the latest and greatest for both coffee and whisky.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Delegate. Get co-workers & partners to take on communications if you’re not able to keep up with what’s coming in.

Top five applications or programs?

I still use the basic Adobe creative suite for most of my work along with Excel for most business related financial projections. The LCBO app for iPhone is actually my most used app. It has real time inventory listings of all their products and a GPS for finding specific products at stores. This is really helpful as a licensee.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Taking time away from work and clearing my head. Going on a motorcycle ride for an hour actually allows me to come back and attack work. You can work much more efficiently if your head is clear.

One non-tech thing you can't live without?

Coffee and Whisky… that’s one thing right?

What does your workspace look like?

Our cafe is an eclectic style of re-claimed materials, brick walls, concrete and tin with a lot of low lighting for mood. I have two offices. One is at the coffee shop. It has a lot of natural light and high ceilings and the buzz of the customers in the background. It’s a high energy place so it’s good for getting through tasks that are repetitive. My other office is a renovated attic space in my home. It’s all white from floor to ceiling with a few natural wood elements. This is my quiet space for writing and reviewing bigger ideas.

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

I spend the early mornings with my daughter and then come into the cafe around 10am. I’ll do our routine business checks or stocks and counts, spend some time with customers and maybe get behind the bar for a bit. The afternoons are divided between running around for stock for the shop and spending time at the home office.

What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

I’ve spent most of my working life in office environments in both open concept agency spaces and your standard corporate settings and I’ve seen a lot of competitive behaviour from co-workers always trying to outdo each other to climb that next rung. Not a lot of advice is shared between people because you’re basically competing with them for that next promotion. It’s not collaborative. I’ve had a lot of good bosses and mentors, but one thing that stood out and still does was a boss who told me to never give 100%. It’s the kind of thing that you do a double take on when you hear it. Basically the principle is that you need to give yourself at least 20-30% of your energy to plan and execute your next move in life/career. If you’re giving 100% to your current gig, then you’re putting 0% into your future. That really resonated with me.

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Melissa Durrell. She has her own PR firm, has been a journalist and is a member of city council. She’s a great personality, fun, positive and gets things done.