For most of my adult life I’ve been following a formula prescribed to me back when I was younger.
Growing up I was a smart kid. I graduated in the top 10% of my class, I earned the rank of Eagle Scout, I excelled in Math and Science. So naturally, I studied engineering in college and landed the first two jobs I ever interviewed for – all before my 25th birthday.
And here I am, halfway through my twenties, realizing this isn’t what I wanted all along – all because it was the practical path. My mistake? I failed to give myself permission. Permission to dream.
Living the dream
Few millennials, however, never failed to give themselves permission to dream. Take for example, the story of Anu Menon and Suyog Mody, the duo behind the up and coming coffee subscription service: Driftaway Coffee based in Brooklyn, NY. After years of working at good tech jobs, Anu and Suyog were tired of living secure and comfortable lives and sensed there was something missing. They wanted more.
“We just had this itch to do something. After a couple years of working it was time for a change,” Anu told me during a recent interview. Anu and Suyog met in college in 2002 and worked for the same company after they graduated. After stints in Atlanta, London, and finally New York, Anu decided to take a 6 month sabbatical.
“When we came back to New York, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was dabbling in a few different things, I knew I wanted something different. So the first thing is to just try something out and figure out what I was good at and enjoyed doing,” Anu said.
So while some of their friends were off starting tech companies, Anu and Suyog pursued a different route – coffee. “Our morning coffee became less about just caffeine and convenience, and more about a ritual we relished,” their website reads.
Anu and Suyog didn’t recklessly follow their dream, they were practical with their approach. “If you are dreaming of something, start it on the side,” Anu said. So while she was on her sabbatical, Anu started building the foundation of their company, but she couldn’t do it alone.
While Anu slowly pieced together Driftaway Coffee, Suyog continued to work full-time and helped any way he could during his margins. He found himself constantly juggling projects at work and at home. As the end of Anu’s sabbatical loomed over them, they knew a tough decision loomed beside it. Suyog needed to leave his job – easier said than done.
“You need a lot of (motivation) to give yourself the courage to leave nice comfortable paying jobs,” Anu told me. On their website, they cite Steve Jobs’ Stanford 2005 Commencement Speech as the pivotal piece of encouragement which pushed them in the right direction:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”
Anu and Suyog knew they found it.
So in August of 2014, Suyog left his job to commit full-time to a dream they never stopped believing; a dream they gave themselves permission to follow.
So where are they now?
Since its launch, Driftaway Coffee garnered a big following and “definitely deserves your attention,” says The Boston Globe. Anu and Suyog poured their “heart and souls into Driftaway” and created a product worthy of such praise.
When I asked what happens next, now that they achieved their dream, Suyog answered “I don’t know if there is such a thing as over.” The hard part, he warned me, is staying passionate about your dream.
“It’s easy to start, it’s difficult to sustain. Does the passion dilute or increase over time? That’s the big question. If you just started for the sake of starting then it’ll die down at some point because it won’t be fun anymore.”
It’s time to give yourself permission
To be honest, I don’t regret where I am today. I’m actually quite happy. But sacrificing a dream for contentment, no longer sits well with me. After talking with Anu and Suyog, I’m inspired to do more with my life, to take my dream more seriously, and to find the opportunities to follow it.
From now on, I’m giving myself permission to dream.
If Anu and Suyog inspired you as well, please support their dream by going to www.driftaway.coffee and entering the coupon code MILLENNIALTYPE to get your first delivery free! You will receive 4 single-origin coffees with distinct taste profiles: Fruity, Classic, Balanced and Bold. After the first order, you can customize your plan to the flavor profile you enjoy!
This blog post is an adaptation of a chapter in the book I am writing. The working title currently is “This Millennial Life.” If you would like to learn more about this project, please enter your email below!