One of the greatest pleasures of the matcha business is getting to know the people who make it all possible — our illustrious and fascinating customers. I’m not exactly sure what I expected when I started this business, but I continue to be bowled over by how interesting and unique this group is. So I thought it would be fun to introduce a few them here from time to time.
It’s hard to summarize Jeff Jacobson, but let me try: he’s a Beijing-based American life and businesss coach, hell-bent on improving the lives of just about everyone he meets. He’s a master storyteller — I once had the pleasure of seeing him perform a monologue live in San Francisco–and a polyglot with what seems like an equal mastery of both Chinese and Spanish. He’s on the faculty of the San Rafael-based Coaches Training Institute, and trots around the world leading workshops helping people first define, and then achieve, what they most want out of life. He just published his first novel, a young adult story, on Kindle: The Boy Who Couldn’t Fly Straight
Here’s the short version of our email interview.
What is a life coach, exactly? Mentors have always been around, so what’s the difference between the two?
Both mentors and coaches help you to achieve what you want. Mentors have more experience than you, and show you how to accomplish what they already have. Coaches teach you how to be your own mentor, basically making sure you heed your own advice. I’ve used both coaches and mentors throughout my career, and both have been really helpful.
Why China? And how did you get so damn fluent in Chinese?
I fell in love with Mandarin while studying in college in ’88. I studied it for years, including living in Taiwan. In ’95 I started coaching, so for a long period of time, Chinese was more like a parlor trick. But in ’08, right before the Beijing Olympics, the Coaches Training Institute sent me to China to teach coaching to managers in a multinational corporation. Since then, I’ve been able to wed two of my greatest passions: coaching, and Chinese culture. I’m currently in Shanghai training local talent to do what I do.
What’s the most powerful thing about storytelling for you?
You can listen to a story on so many levels: just the plot, or the arc of the story, or the deeper messages worth pondering. That’s why so many people love stories: no matter your mindset at the time, a good story draws you in, entertains you, and teaches you something.
Any good matcha stories?
A Chinese airport official once searched my bag. She held up my chashaku (bamboo scoop), my frother, and my traveling tin of matcha, looking at me with great suspicion. Panicking that she might not return my beloved matcha to me, I used what seemed like mind control, looking into her eyes and saying, “It’s delicious, quite healthy, and, and, (trying to remember the benefits from the Breakaway Matcha site), it gives you good breath.” She started laughing, handed everything back to me, and said, “Enjoy!”