52 Cups of Coffee: Inspiring and insightful stories for navigating life’s uncertainties

BOOK: 52 Cups of Coffee: Inspiring and insightful stories for navigating life’s uncertainties
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Inspiring and insightful stories for navigating life’s uncertainties


Megan Gebhart





First Edition, IRL Press, August 2014


Copyright © 201
4 by Megan Gebhart

design by Rachel Balanon

design by IRL Press


ISBN 978-1-5006020-6-2


All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without the prior permission of the publisher.


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Table of Contents


Who you are in five years depends on the people you meet and the books you read.

Cup 1:
Pat Crawford

Never be afraid to say hello.

Cup 2:
Rita Meyer

Take life one step at a time, building on small successes along the way.

Cup 3:
August Crabtree

Don’t let assumptions stop you from great opportunities.

Cup 4:
Laurie Lonsdorf

Decide what you love and find a way to make money doing it.

Cup 5:
David Murray

Live in the moment, have no regrets, and work hard for the greater good.

Cup 6:
Tom Crawford

Every career path is unique—even if the destination is the same.

Cup 7:
Noshir Amaria

Don’t let obstacles and critics deter you from your path.

Cup 8:
Barbara Burnham

Life rarely goes according to plan; just keep growing.

Cup 9:
William Ward

Never underestimate the effect you can have on someone.

Cup 10:
Jenny Beorkrem

Opportunities are only opportunities if you take advantage of them.

Cup 11:
Lisa Gnass

Create your own definition of success.

Cup 12:
Chad Badgero

Never let good stop you from great.

Cup 13:
Dave Isbell

You can choose humility or be humbled.

Cup 14:
Denise Busley

Instead of wallowing in the problem; look for a solution.

Cup 15:
Ruben Derderian

The job you get is important, but it’s what you do once you get there that truly matters.

Cup 16:
Lou Anna K. Simon

Hard work is the currency that buys good fortune.

Cup 17:
Piotr Pasik

Your limitations only stop you if you let them.

Cup 18:
Vince Foster

Surround yourself with good people.

Cup 19:
Stefan Olander

Don’t work so hard that you stop loving what you do.

Cup 20:
Sam Rosen

There is more than one way to approach life.

Cup 21:
Torya Blanchard

You only get one life—make the most of it.

Cup 22:
Abby Ward

Education is the best remedy for ignorance.

Cup 23:
Barry Litwin

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride.

Cup 24:
Angela Shetler

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Cup 25:
Betsy Miner-Swartz

When life gets tough, take it one step at a time.

Cup 26:
Jim Little

It’s nice to have a place where everybody knows your name.

Cup 27:
Masaki Takahashi

Forgiveness is hard, but better than a lifetime of resentment.

Cup 28:
Ellen Kay

People may not say thank you, but that doesn’t mean your efforts aren't appreciated.

Cup 29:
Sue Carter

“The water buffalo are waiting at the gate. Let’s go!”

Cup 30:
Mike McFall

Embrace uncertainty; it keeps life interesting.

Cup 31:
Kenyatta Berry

It’s all right to strike out a few times.

Cup 32:
Wanda Herndon

Never underestimate the power of choice.

Cup 33:
Jonathan Zittrain

Don’t wait for an opportunity, create an opportunity.

Cup 34:
Mike Wardian

Figure out what your goals are so you know where to find the finish line.

Cup 35:
Stacy Bohrer

Your past does not have to define your future.

Cup 36:
Tom Izzo

Decide what you value, so you know what you’re willing to pay to get it.

Cup 37:
Peggy Brannan

Be a part of something bigger than yourself; make a difference.

Cup 38:
Seth Godin

Fail more often.

Cup 39:
Colin Wright

When you follow your passion, the future is always exciting.

Cup 40:
Janina Pasik

Always be good to others.

Cup 41:
Roman Kroke

Find balance; it makes life more interesting.

Cup 42:
Mihaela Fabian

Raise the potential of others.

Cup 43:
Yasmina Boustani & Katharina Schmitt

It’s the extra step that creates the opportunity.

Cup 44:
Tony Stone

It’s important to have a plan, but the real key is having the courage to take the first step.

Cup 45:
Steve Wozniak

Talent is overrated; it’s practice that’s important.

Cup 46:
Bo Fishback

You have more potential than you think.

Cup 47:
Brittany Fox

If you never try, you will never know what is possible.

Cup 48:
Steve Schram

Uncertainty is inevitable, but you don’t have to tackle it alone.

Cup 49:
Steve Googin

Many great ideas seem crazy—until they work.

Cup 50:
Clark Bunting

The way you get from Point A to Point B won’t be a straight line. That’s okay.

Cup 51:
Elaine Rosenblatt

When life changes unexpectedly, grieve, grow, and move forward.

Cup 52

Figure out what you love, then find the courage to do it, and do it well.




you are in five years depends on the people you meet and the books you read.

I stumbled upon this quote in 2010
, and it stopped me in my tracks. I was about to be a senior at Michigan State University and could easily see how my friends and mentors had helped shape the person I had become.

There was one person in particular who showed me the power of meeting new people. He was a student named Brett Kopf who shared
an academic advisor with me and was equally passionate about entrepreneurship. The advisor recognized how similar we were and had a hunch we would be great friends. He gave Brett my email address and suggested we meet.

When Brett sent me an email a few days later with an i
nvitation to coffee, I agreed without thinking much of it. I liked meeting new people, and it was just a cup of coffee. I would never have guessed that simple cup of coffee would be the start of an incredible friendship—a life-changing friendship. Together, Brett and I would start a club for entrepreneurs that would become the cornerstone of my college experience and lead to friendships and opportunities that still affect me today.

One day, curiosity got the best of me:
If one new connection could have such an impact on my life, what would a year of new connections do?

Knowing there was only one way to find out
, I decided to embark on an experiment in caffeine and conversation. Each week for one year, I would have coffee with someone I wouldn’t normally meet and write about his or her story online at 52cups.com. With graduation approaching, and uncertainty around what I should do after college, it seemed like a great time to ask others for advice.

The intention for 52 Cups of Coffee started out small. I was going to seek
out people just outside my network—people I met through friends of friends, social media, or stumbled upon serendipitously. I would meet people in and around Michigan State University, where I went to school, and Wyoming, where my family lived.

As the project progressed
, something amazing and unexpected happened. Both friends and strangers began connecting me with fascinating individuals around the world.

I talked to well
-known thought leaders, best-selling authors, an NCAA basketball coach, and famous entrepreneurs. The project wasn’t just about talking to people of prestige; some of my best conversations came from the most unexpected places: a first grader, a grandma, a WWII survivor and dairy farmer. Rich and poor, old and young, famous and not so famous—each week of the project brought something unexpected and valuable. The stories helped me navigate the unsettling transition from college to real life and develop a stronger platform for living.

Through my conversations,
I heard the same advice time and time again: travel while you're young. I decided to heed the advice and put my post-college job search on the back burner and live off my savings while traveling through Europe for five weeks. That decision ultimately led to fourteen months of nomadic living. By the time the project ended, I had sipped coffee in twenty-nine cities across seven countries.

* * *

52 Cups is a journey of serendipity, connection, empathy, and adventure—a story about being courageous, vulnerable, compassionate, and curious.

It’s also about searching for answers when you’re stuck and not sure what your future should hold
. As it turns out, when you start asking questions, you find answers for which you didn’t know you were looking.

I wrote this book so that you could read it the way you like—you can read it cover to cover
experiencing my adventure, or you can jump ahead to the conversations that most compel you. It is a journey, so you'll notice that the Cups change as I learn, grow, and practice telling other people's stories.

experiment ended in December of 2011, but the stories and connections have stayed with me. I continue to receive emails from readers who found the project online and felt inspired to start similar projects of their own. And, while I hope you read and enjoy these stories, my deepest wish is that these stories inspire you to take courageous action to build new connections of your own.

who you are in five years depends on it.



Megan Gebhart

July 9, 2014

BOOK: 52 Cups of Coffee: Inspiring and insightful stories for navigating life’s uncertainties
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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