Brian Jackson owns Mighty Missouri Coffee Company in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Name: Brian Jackson
City/Town: Bismarck, North Dakota
Where else can we connect with you online?
Facebook: @brianjj, @mightymocoffee
Who is your community?
I am fortunate to find myself at a merging of communities, with friends, family, and activities in a landscape to which my spirit is somehow attached. I was raised here and if I ever left, I am certain I would tout this community of West-Central North Dakota wherever I go.
Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.
There is a certain busyness to being the sole owner of Mighty Missouri Coffee Co., a growing brand based in Bismarck. I have learned an important part of time management is carving time for myself – creating time to read, to write, to study, and to grow outside of the company, into new areas of interest. And while my schedule is a constantly evolving thing (it must be), I have made mornings before work a time to refresh and position myself to take on the day’s tasks. The business of Mighty Missouri Coffee involves roasting, packaging, and delivering coffee, creating and maintaining partner relationships, and all the things that make a business run: managing, book-keeping, and payroll. Every day is unique, and I am empowered by the excitement and hope that comes with a growing business.
What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?
There’s a passion deep within me to be a storyteller. The concept of a coffee roasting company was based on it—to celebrate the unique stories of the Northern Plains—and my personal projects reflect it. I don’t feel as though my career has yet allowed me to fully engage in this direction. My challenge has been to make the connection between my passion and branding, and telling stories that matter.
If you could do any job, what would you do and why?
For my dream position, I am well on my way. I don’t know all that much about building businesses, but I am learning, and solving problems is a creative, fulfilling act. A man I greatly admire started a restaurant that profited him the opportunity to start another, and another! I get excited about the creative exercise to build like he has, but I am even more excited about building businesses that tell important stories.
What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the OTA region when it comes to your career?
The OTA region is a community of support for people who think differently, have big dreams, and engage in their community. I started Mighty Missouri Coffee on my own, but I was never alone because I have such a fantastic network of people who believe in helping others. When I have a problem, I can make a phone call, even to someone I don’t know on a personal level, and I have found an incredible show of support, I believe because of an ingrained belief in helpfulness in this community, and because of the good work of organizations like OTA making these networks happen.
At what intersection do you live your life?
I live at the intersection of faith and creativity.
Where do you think good ideas come from?
I think good ideas are those born out of the culmination of someone’s talents, experience, and prayerful contemplation. It is often those pesky dreams that scare us, but still we can’t shake because they are the ideas that remain exciting to us. When we step into these dreams and make them a reality, these are the ideas that can change the world.
What’s one current trend you think will change the world?
Science is learning that storytelling changes behavior. We know this without studies and research, though, because when a face is attached to a cause (think the drowned Syrian boy or KONY 2012), we are hit on a deeper level, attaching the cause beyond our fleeting emotions. Attention begins to shift, and dollars begin to move, and people start seeing change when grassroots efforts tell stories. The last several years have seen a growing trend in which small, bare-bones organizations include a small production crew or storytellers as integral pieces of their team, and I think as this trend continues, our collective attentions will shift to bigger things, bigger problems, and we can begin asking better questions.
What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?
I don’t suppose inspiration happens by mere chance. Rather, we are all inspired by completely different things. We are crazy that way. But when we are inspired, I believe it is at a point that our worldview, our talents, and our experiences intersect and we can serve our world in a deeply effective way. It only requires that we act—that we take one step in the direction of our newfound calling.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
I think when I decided to pursue a dream – to start a coffee company – I signed up to live a life that looks a little uncommon. By taking the first risk, I opened myself up to take other risks, which is both terrifying and exciting. I’ve been fortunate to find positive people who believe in what I am doing, but I look up to anybody who takes a risk and bets on themselves. I look forward to bigger risks in the future.
What’s your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
A product of being a dreamer is, I suppose, a life full of misses. And then picking up the ball and hurling it with all my strength, only to find that my strength alone was not enough to get the ball over the fence. I think I am learning to look at failure less like an “F” and more like a participant’s trophy—“Been there, done that. Now let’s try it this way.” This is definitely a learning process, because it does not feel natural to shift and reshape my thinking to understand the incredible wealth of opportunity in front of me, but once I can manage that, failures can be a sign of success.
Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?
I hope to leave a legacy for my family. I come from a family that is deeply supportive, and someday I’d like to return the favor, doubled.
Who is the most connected person in your life, and what personal characteristics make him or her so well-connected?
My friend Nate Speidel is very well-connected, partly a product of being a math teacher, hockey coach, band-member, and business owner, and partly (or mostly) because he has found a way to strengthen and inspire those he meets. He is the best kind of person, who puts the successes of others before his own.
Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?
My Dad, Orlan Jackson, is the most creative person I know. His career has taken him from being a classically trained painter to a family practice physician, a woodworking hobbyist, and helper of a kid who asks his dad a lot of business questions. His creative mind is always firing, solving problems, and making beautiful things out of nothing.
Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?
My mom started a program where school staff members can alert her to an anonymous child in need of something – boots, a coat, a backpack, etc. – and maybe lack the means to get it. She is often making trips to Bismarck to shop for kids she does not know, and she is thrilled for the opportunity. She collects medicine bottles to send to African clinics that do not have any receptacle to put medications, cooks meals for people going through a tough time, and recruits help from the community to do the same, and regularly works at the food pantry. She is a great example of selfless living and is evidence that generosity makes you happy. She is a wonderfully happy person.
What passion project are you working on right now?
I’ve been fortunate to fall in love with the area in which I was raised – the landscape, the activities, and most definitely the people. I went through a “What should I do with my life” phase (maybe that’s an ongoing theme!) knowing well that whatever I did, I wanted my career to celebrate and affirm the community in which I live. To that respect, I have managed — and continued to — build a business that blends these pursuits of my personal talents and passions and the community that surrounds me. It’s been the hardest task of my life, to be sure — one that manages still to fill me with self-doubt and takes me on a roller coaster of how-to’s and what-could-have-been’s. But I have been invigorated. The challenges I face are stair-steps to larger goals, big things I am excited to see happen. And I look forward to the hard work it takes to see them come to fruition, because not all that much can get in the way of a man inspired.
About five years ago, I had the first meetings with people I thought could help me see this goal come into being. Since, my journals have been filled with dreams and a vision for the future of my venture realized — a venture that celebrates the people in this area doing amazing things, “living their adventure,” and participating in their passion right along with them, making their stories approachable. This project has been dubbed “Another Day, Another Adventure” and has been on the verge of action for some time, with delay in part due to lack of resources and part due to a misunderstanding. It has been a frustrating thing to be stuck in this stage, but everything worthwhile has to be fought for. I am so excited to move forward with “Another Day, Another Adventure!”
Both Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. and Another Day, Another Adventure are about good storytelling. I hope to increase my capacity to tell such stories through the experience of Another Day, Another Adventure and creating a synergetic culture between both projects. Additionally, my experience with OTA has been one I am continually grateful for in the wonderful relationships made that I am excited to grow.