Experience Shared

Ted Stearns Entrepreneur Advocate

Reading the Tea Leaves

ted stearns reading the tea leaves

An Unexpected Story From The Tea Business

Usually the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the family and I head to Big Bear, California for a week of rest and relaxation, skiing and snowshoeing. On one such journey my wife loves her tea and she hadn’t realized she had left her stash at home back in San Diego so she sent me to the store to face the harsh fifteen degree weather in pursuit of her favorite Celestial Seasonings tea.

I was fascinated to read the story of Celestial Seasoning on the back of the box of tea I picked up. After I had made my way back to the cabin I searched for the story of entrepreneur Mo Siegel and the history of his company, Celestial Seasonings on Wikipedia.

It looks like Mo, in his spare time would pick herbs in the mountains of Colorado and would mix the tea together for his friends. He would test small amounts of tea with local health food stores and local markets; his customers were raving fans and as demand grew for his tea he found himself with a challenge. There is an awesome example in his story of the essence of what you must do to produce a product for the masses and develop a scalable business.

Attraction Comes From Passion

Mo was a college dropout but his business acumen and success-oriented attitude came from reading the writings and teachings of American heroes like Walt Disney, Tom Watson, Abe Lincoln and others. As he studied the teachings of Jesus he developed a passion, purpose and a drive for his work.

He didn’t have the capital resources to hire and attract key people to lead the company thru its hyper growth stage. He was not able to offer high caliber employees from Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Foods and Pepperidge Farms huge salary packages. So, instead he appealed to them personally and offered them equity in the company.

This resulted in Mo attracting the finest minds that also saw his vision for the company. Because they were of like minds to his own and shared his values they committed to his mission. It was their commitment to excellence in quality and production made Celestial Seasoning a classic American success story.


The lesson here is that you may not have the capital, acumen or empirical experiences to attract high caliber candidates to help lead your company, yet. But if you have a truly game changing product or service, talented passionate individuals who resonate with your vision will rise to the occasion and help you to accomplish your purpose.


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Entrepreneur Advocate

Ted Stearns

As an entrepreneur myself, my passion is to help create an environment where business owners have the best odds at success. -Ted Stearns