In 2004 I was lucky enough to end up working at KPMG’s New York office. I little than more than two years before while visiting my parents in Connecticut I had wished I could work in New York for even a short period of time. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for but in this case it turned to bring many positive results.
I worked in a few places but my short stay at KPMG has continued to give many years after I left. On the career side it is always a plus to say that I worked at a Big 4 CPA & Consulting firm but where I really get the value is the great relationships I created and that I have kept in touch with many years after leaving the firm.
Not a place to Nurture your Entrepreneurial Spirit
I met some great people at the firm many who I consider friends but looking back I met very few entrepreneurs that wanted to set up their own business. At the time I worked at KPMG it was a great place to be since Sarbanes Oxley had created so much income for the firm we worked hard but also got many perks. This can also lead into creating a dependency in staying with the firm so you don’t lose those perks or the possibility of reaching higher levels in the firm.
Given how complex it is to become partner of the firm you would think that many would build up the courage to immediately leave the firm and start their own shop but most of the people I met left to start new journeys at other corporations. If you are willing to stay in the firm you have to follow the corporate ladder and work yourself up like in any other big company. Overall I don’t see KPMG supporting many entrepreneurs many like me left the firm with their sights on their next corporate gig.
An entrepreneur with a Vision
While working at KPMG I met this really nice guy that worked in KPMG’s IT department helping people like me to have the much needed tools to work with.
Nicolas was a guy that was very customer oriented and patient he had direct contact with many in the firm since every piece of hardware you needed Nicolas was probably the person that would hand it over to you. I am not sure how long Nicolas was at that position but one day when I went to pick up a device I ordered he mentioned that he was leaving the firm to set up a Coffee, Bagel, and pastry Cart.
Yes Nicolas had decided to leave the corporate lifestyle and try to set up his mobile coffee shop. A small business in mid-town next to the huge office building we worked in 345 Park Ave. near the Waldorf Astoria. Working in New York I became a big fan of Bagels and I remember that I stopped using the internal cafeteria and would walk outside to get bagels, coffee, and to say hi to Nicolas.
On occasions we would do some bartering I would make him some of my homemade Coquito and Sangria and in other occasions I would have to almost fight Nicolas so he would let me pay with the local currency (dollar). For some reason the local currency lost its value when you where one of Nicolas friends (a privilege I am very grateful to have). On many occasions I would grab everyone’s order in the office to make sure that Nicolas would at least make a profit out of my visits (he still gave me complimentary coffee and bagels for myself).
Customer Service Rock Star
Nicolas is the type of person that would know exactly what bagel or pastry you wanted and how many sugars you wanted in your coffee. In a place like New York where so many sometimes forget to smile I am sure Nic’s customers got plenty of genuine smiles and good vibes in the process of them getting their morning caffeine fix.
Growing the Business
I moved back to Puerto Rico and when I go back to New York City I stop by the office and say hi to the few ex-coworkers that are still at KPMG. I also make an effort to stop and greet Nic while he is working but I have seen how from one Coffee Cart he moved over to having a few and now he runs his Uncle Gussy’s Food Truck which was featured in the video below.
Positive Offline & Online Vibes
Yesterday I found out that Nic’s Food Truck @unclegussys was on twitter and I started following him. I sent a tweet and minutes later I got Nic answering me on the account. Although he is extremely busy he found a way to say hi.
This is the first occasion where I know someone and via twitter I get the feeling that he was talking right next to me. Nic’s good and positive vibes where transmitted via his twitter account and other text messages we shared.
I get to see Nic maybe once a year but in a strange way I think the passion of what he does is something I admire and keeps me connected with him.
I am very happy to see Nic growing his business. Years later when I set up CIMA IT I joined Nic in the journey of going on my own I know the effort and energy that needs to be put into it.
I wish Nic and his family the best and I can’t wait to see a franchise of Uncle Gusy’s Food Trucks around New York City. Or even better yet some real Greek cuisine down here in the Island of Enchantment.
But most importantly if you are in Midtown New York City please stop by Uncle Gusy’s and let Nic know you are a friend of mine.
Do you know of any Rock Star Passionate Small Business Owners like Nic? Feel free to mention them and share your twitter feeds.
More on Uncle Gussy’s here: