Sacha Coburn is a leadership consultant who combines her love of coaching with active involvement in her own family-held company, Coffee Culture. Coffee Culture is a New Zealand group of boutique coffee shops with over 300 staff in 20 locations. As well as being the C.O.O of Coffee Culture, Sacha is a former lawyer with a Masters Degree in Education and the co-founder of The Company You Keep. Sacha has worked for over 20 years coaching and developing teams all over the world. Her obsession with unlocking the latent potential within everyone to embrace change, to relentlessly pursue improvement and to live a life in the service of others, has transformed the way thousands of people turn up to work. Sacha is currently mentoring Soda client, LadyJoe TangataTerekia, founder of Hulanesian Fitness.
What do you love most about your job?
I love it all. Mentoring other leaders, working with start-ups, speaking on stages around the world, getting into the nitty gritty of what makes a business successful. I’m so excited to work with people who want to improve their lives through making a dent in the universe, and who are inspired to make a difference for others by doing work that matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s product or service based, we all have the opportunity every day to make things easier for someone else. I’ve always wanted to help, and I feel really lucky now that I can. At Coffee Culture I get to work with a fabulous team of people and that fills my cup.
What was a highlight for you in 2021?
I was soooo pumped to get back to Harvard Business School where I’m currently enrolled as part of a nine-week course that’s spread over three years. To reconnect with international friends and family after a pandemic pause was incredible. My mind and heart were fully expanded and I can’t wait to finish my programme in June 2022.
What are you looking forward to most about 2022?
I can’t wait to see more people grapple with the hard task of working out who they are and what they want. The impacts of a global pandemic have reverberated through so many aspects of our lives and forced many of us to evaluate what the heck it is we’re doing with our one wild and precious life. Jobs, relationships, locations, businesses – I love seeing people get really clear about what they actually want to do, and who they want to be. It’s never too late to start living in a way that energizes and inspires you. I know that for some people, every day is a struggle and I want to see more people with the time and the resources step up and help those who have been knocked about through the past few years.
How has Covid impacted you and your business?
Hospo? Ha ha ha. Running in person workshops? Ha ha ha ha. Speaking at conferences here and overseas? Ha ha ha. We’ve done the only thing we know how to do – find new ways to get our great products and services into the hands of those who need them. As the leaders of a group of coffee shops, so much of our focus has been to support our owners and team members to get through as best they can. I was pretty disappointed with how hospo leaders represented the industry. At Coffee Culture our aim was always to provide an environment that was as safe as it could be for everyone so that when the time was right we could all enjoy our routines again.
What or who inspires you?
Super cheese on toast answer coming up – my husband Chris started Coffee Culture back when there were very few espresso coffee machines in New Zealand and very few people roasting right in front of their guests. His tenacity and courage to start Coffee Culture all those years ago inspires me every day. What I do is easy – take something that’s already in existence and help drive it and grow it, but starting something from nothing, that’s very cool.
Also, my parents. I was so blessed to have rabble rousing hippie parents who had an aversion to the status quo. I’ve benefitted hugely from having a healthy disrespect for doing what society thinks I ought to.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
I was six years old, lining up for the sprints at Royal Oak Primary School in Auckland. Just as the starter said ‘take your marks’, a voice cried out from the bank where the parents were sitting: “Run Sach, run!” It was my mum, interrupting for a last-minute exhortation to little old me. All the runners had to go back and line up all over again. I’m not a runner now – not for a second – but I have always taken the advice, or the sentiment of it to heart. Go for it. No half measures. No dithering. Get in or get out. Commit. Run. Go hard towards or hard away but don’t just watch others run past you without trying really hard.
What three things can’t you live without?
I know this a fun question, but I’m pretty literal. I’m a survivor, an old weed that you can’t kill so I’m pretty low maintenance. There’s not much that would finish me off. I’ll still be here after the nuclear holocaust preaching to whoever is left: you got this, we can do it, hang in there, help is coming :)
Best book, tv show or podcast you’ve enjoyed recently?
My favourite podcast is The Not So Breakfast Show, and I’m currently enjoying Michael Lewis’s (remember Moneyball) podcast Against the Rules. We Can Do Hard Things by Abby Wambach, Glennon and Amanda Doyle is also a big must for me, and for reading – check out anything by Tina Ngata. Her writing on decolonisation is educational and challenging.