In 2004 I was lucky enough land a job at KPMG’s New York office.
Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish.
Two years before, while visiting my parents in Connecticut I had wished I could work in New York. As a 22 year old at the time there was not a cooler place to work at than the Big Apple.
My years as an employee I worked at many places short stay at KPMG has continued to give many years after I left.
It is always a plus to say that I worked at a Big 4 CPA & Consulting firm. In my opinion the real value is the great long lasting relationships that were formed.
Not a place to Nurture your Entrepreneurial Spirit
I met some great people at the firm, many who I consider close friends.
Looking back I met few entrepreneurs that wanted to set up their own business. I was lucky to land at KPMG during the Sarbanes Oxley (Sarbox) boom. Sarbos had created so much income for the firm we worked hard but also got many perks. This also lead into creating a dependency in staying with the firm. You don’t want to lose those perks or the possibility of reaching higher levels (and income) within the firm.
Given the complexities and low probability of becoming a partner of the firm. You would think that many would build up the courage to immediately leave the firm and start their own shop. Many 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.
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 nice guy named Nicko that worked in KPMG’s IT department. Nicko was great at helping people like me to have the much needed tools to work with.
Nicolas is customer service oriented and patient. He had direct contact with many in the firm. Every piece of hardware you needed Nicolas was the person that would hand it over to you. I am not sure how long Nicolas was at that position.
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. I remember that I stopped using the internal cafeteria and would brave the cold and 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. On 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 grateful to be one). To pay him back I would grab everyone’s order in the office. It was a way to make sure that Nicolas would at least make a profit on 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. Nicko’s customers got plenty of genuine smiles and good vibes while they got 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 Nicko while he is working. 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 is 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: