Steve took the time to discuss his journey into the adventure most of us call our careers, and how he quickly transformed from an DJ hosting Jazz and Cocktails for a Milanese radio station to building a well loved food brand.
As I am fond of saying, a brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir, and Steve’s vision for his expertly branded “new world specialty food” line grew from his passion and curiosity. Passion was a recurring theme during our conversation; by his own admission, Steve’s interests are never casual.
When he founded Rancho Gordo beans, he wanted to create a company for himself, because he considers himself to be his own best market. But he’s not alone. The heirloom beans he discovers may grow best when tended to by indigenous farmers in their native lands, but their appeal is widespread. With his trademark good humor, Steve shared his insights into agility, the importance of making mistakes, tenacity and his success. (though, he’s a little reluctant to declare victory)
In an age where too many brands feel the need to stick to a script, Steve’s story is really about going deep on passions you have, trusting yourself. He firmly believes that people don’t want to learn from someone who is pedantic, but from someone who is authentic and enthusiastic. Certainly this philosophy is why he has been able to nurture long-term relationships with everyone from indigenous bean growers in Central America to the late, famous chef and cookbook author, Marcella Hazan, after whom he cultivated and grew a signature bean.
Steve’s “all in” approach to business proves that instigators take many forms. Through him, we see what it looks like when we bounce back, ask new questions, and allow ourselves (and others), to be delighted by discovering new passions.