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Nate Snell, the owner of Pip's Original Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon — stands at the register

Nate Snell of Pip's Doughnuts: Community Not Competition

About This Episode

Nate Snell is the founder and owner of Pip’s Original Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon — a doughnut shop that has earned accolades and recognition from publications like the New York Times and Thrillist. But what makes this doughnut shop amazing isn’t necessarily the doughnuts. It’s the unique way that Nate has created a space that inspires community.

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Nate Snell of Pip's Original Doughnuts and Chai in Portland

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Transcript

This transcript was automatically generated:

Branden Harvey

Hello, Branden Harvey here with this week's episode of Sounds Good. This is the podcast for every single Monday. I sit down with an inspiring person and talk about happiness, overcoming struggles and living a life of intentionality and wonder. This week, I'm so excited to share a conversation with Nate Snell, the founder and owner of Pip's Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon. Pip's is this amazing donut shop. They've been featured in all kinds of publications like The New York Times and Thrillist. And seriously, if you're ever in Portland, you have to go.


Branden Harvey

But what makes this donut shop amazing isn't necessarily the donuts. It's the unique way that Nate has somehow conjured up a space that creates community, builds people up and inspires creativity. And we're going to get into how it's even possible for a Donut Shop to do all of that in this conversation. So without any further Ado, let's just jump straight into things.


Branden Harvey

All right, everybody, I am here in person with Nate Snell of Pip's Doughnuts. Nate, welcome to Sounds Good.


Nate Snell

Thank you. It's great to be here.


Branden Harvey

This is so fun - we are across the street from your amazing Donut Shop.


Nate Snell

Literally. Why did I drive?


Branden Harvey

I know, right.


Nate Snell

I got in my car and I drove and I went around the corner and I'm like, I pulled her and we go, why did I just do that? So good?


Branden Harvey

I love it. I love it. And you drove up in your Pip's Mobile.


Nate Snell

Yeah. The vintage 1973 Jeep Wagoner, the Pip's Mobile.


Branden Harvey

It's beautiful.


Nate Snell

Thank you. Thank you.


Branden Harvey

I think I need to start this interview by just confessing that earlier this week I bought four dozen donuts from Pip's. Eight, maybe half of them. I'm obsessed with your doughnuts, and they're a huge part of my life, and I'm just so excited.


Nate Snell

Well, what's great is that makes two of us. And I can confess back to you the exact same sin that I committed, and I ate two dozen donuts out of four dozen that I made last weekend. I'm really in love with my donuts, too. So don't feel bad. You're not alone.


Branden Harvey

Good. I think I first found out about Pip's when my wife, who, you know, moved in this very house across the street from your donut shop, and she became a little bit of the poster child for Pip's on accident. She just went all the time and ended up having a photo taken of her holding Pip's.


Nate Snell

And then she ended up on your business cards and as the background to our Facebook page and our Twitter page. And it wasn't really on Instagram because that stupid picture is so small. She was really the poster child because the look on her face as she's standing there holding those donuts just embodied the joyful expression that I see so many times on people when they first take their bite of their first Pip's donut. And it's like a whole paradigm shifting experience where their eyes just open, really huge.


Nate Snell

They get this huge smile on their face. And it's often like, I can't believe a donut tastes that good. It's hot and fresh. So her picture, even though I didn't really know Sammy that well at all at that point, just embodied everything that brings me joy about running my shop. And I thought, you know what? That's the face, the candid picture of the experience that I want to convey to everybody that looks at our sites that makes me so happy.


Branden Harvey

And we've just become like, accidental advocates for Pip's anytime he's coming to Portland and they'll reach out and be like, Where should we go? We're like, you have to go to Pip's first thing from the airport. And so I'm excited to be here having this conversation with you, because it's not just that you found a really good recipe. You've created something really special, and that's what I want to get into. But I want to back up and I know a little bit of the backstory Pip's, but I don't know all of it.


Branden Harvey

But I do know that you did not set out to start a donut shop. It kind of happened on accident, didn't it?


Nate Snell

Yeah. I mean, accidentally on purpose, according to some greater thing that was moving in the universe that led us to that juncture. Sure. My wife has a company called The Lamb's Table Catering, that she has a really interesting business model in that she provides really high quality Northwest Centric catering, but she creates custom menus for everyone.


Branden Harvey

Wow.


Nate Snell

So her thing was more like she took the idea of a private chef or a custom menu was created, and she brought it into the catering world. So she sits down with people. She has a conversation just like this. She'll spend an hour 2 hours with potential bride or groom or whoever she's meeting with, and she has a whole list where she gets to know them as people. What are their loves and passions and desires? What do they like to eat? And based on that, she creates a custom menu for every unreal, every client.


Nate Snell

I had no idea but a personal chef service magnified over 200 people. So her business continued to flourish and grow all through word of mouth and great experience. And it was at the point where we were looking for her own catering kitchen that we found the little tiny, 1000 square foot shop across the street from this place. And I started helping her with the negotiation process of the landlord. The landlord said, I love the idea of having the catering shop in here, and we'll build you a kitchen.


Nate Snell

But you have to have some sort of a retail front end. You could Cook, you could have something you could have maybe a little tiny cafe delicates in a restaurant, whatever. But I want to bring value to my existing tenants in this building. And I really feel like Fremont is going to continue to grow and thrive. And so I want to bring value to the neighborhood as well. What can you do? Well, I was building custom guitars and amplifiers. I was doing strategic marketing and development for multiple different record labels, and I was really in my groove, and I was loving it.


Nate Snell

But when you're married, sometimes you're called to just put the things that you think are the best thing happening to you on hold, because you have to partner with your partner to move something else for that's ultimately going to bring enrichment to your life into the lives of their own. And this is a perfect example of that. So we just thought, you know what? We love mini donuts we have the mini donuts at Pike Place Market over a decade before they created a paradigm shift in how a doughnut could taste fresh out of the fryer.


Nate Snell

Now, albeit theirs were very greasy ultimately. But the overarching thing was like, this is something different. This is something that's been done a million times before, but it's been done in a different way. American ingenuity taking the thing that's already been done forever and putting your own unique twist on it. So I thought, Jamie, I bet we could do mini donuts even better than that. I bet we could do it in a way that would be really impactful in Portland and would be healthy. I mean, relatively healthy, all things considered.


Nate Snell

But Cook them in organic soy shortening and use quality ingredients and toppings and get away from the greasy element. And then also, we were looking for another niche. And so we thought, Jamie loves to experiment with spices. She's a chef. She loves spices. That's what rules our life. Let's do five flavors of Chai. I did market research. Nobody in the entire world was doing five flavors of Chai and made to order many donuts. I thought we're going to create paradigm shifts on both sides. This is going to be a really cool business model.


Nate Snell

Maybe people will like it. And if they don't, we're going to have a cool place to hang out.


Branden Harvey

That's amazing.


Nate Snell

So that's how it happened. I bought off on it. I ended up building everything, and I did all the plans. We had a little bit of savings, and when we ran out of money, it was friends and family that came alongside us, just like the orphan and great expectations pit our namesake.


Branden Harvey

Yes, that's brilliant.


Nate Snell

Right? We were orphaned by the banks. They wouldn't even give us a $10,000 loan. We didn't have any credit. We had paid off all of our credit. We were debt free, but we had no credit, so they wouldn't take a chance and even give us a loan. So even faced with these obstacles, we had a little bit of money we had saved up, and we had the initiative and the desire and the ability to move it forward. And we just went for it on faith. Friends and family came alongside us when we ran out of money and we got the doors open.


Branden Harvey

What created all that ambition? Like you hit a lot of obstacles in the way you could have just said, okay, we're going to move to a different location in town to open up the scaling business. You could have said, oh, well, the banks can't give us money. We're just going to call it quits, or we're just going to scale down really small. But you kept going. What created that sense of ambition for you?


Nate Snell

I think fear is a great motivator. Honestly, when you go all in on something and you leave yourself no other option, you don't have an easy way out. You haven't created. There's no escape clause. A lot of people would say when you come up with a business model, it has to be very logical. It has to be very smart. It has to be. Everything has to fit. We just went all in because we have passion and we wanted to do this thing. So the fear of failure was incredibly motivating to us because it wasn't an option.


Nate Snell

So we were just going to do everything in our power and bring all of our resources to bear on making this thing work.


Branden Harvey

That's amazing. And it worked, and it worked. It's really cool.


Nate Snell

And it continues to grow, and it continues to take off. And it's still incredibly fun. And I'm still very passionate about what I do four years later.


Branden Harvey

That's beautiful.



Okay.


Branden Harvey

And so the atmosphere that you experience when you walk into Pip's, there's something really magical about that. What kind of experience are you trying to create for your customers? You're not just a donut fryer in the middle of pack place market. You're creating an atmosphere. What's your goal? When you're at the beginning stages of deciding to create something?


Nate Snell

Well, I think that in terms of authenticity is, like batted around a lot as a term these days.


Branden Harvey

Hashtag authenticity, right?



Yeah.


Nate Snell

Exactly. But we created a place. Our goal is to create a place in a space we wanted to hang out and full of things that we wanted to eat and drink. So when the ultimate goal is to create a space you want to be in, it creates an authentic experience for yourself first, so that you can relate authentically to people that come in all of the high desert clouds that Jamie painted on the wall for all the murals, all of the wood we use, everything that's in our shop references back to something that has meaning to us.


Nate Snell

The chandelier from my parents house, Ranch house in Lewiston, Idaho, all of the plants that we brought in, even our cups that are made locally by Covenant ginger have sand from Moab, Utah, integrated into the glaze. Because Jamie grew up in Utah, that's really cool. So when you're able to point all these things, all of the signs have been hand lettered. Everything has been done by hand because it references back to the type of care and excellence that we put into everything that we do. So I think, to circle back around to what you're saying when you take that type of intentionality and creating a space that you're proud of in every even the smallest details.


Nate Snell

The way that comes across to people when they come in is very unique because it feels different. It doesn't feel like a place that they're just looking to create a cookie cutter franchiseable business model. It's a place that we went all in and every aspect of how we decorated the things we brought in. And I think that creates that experience that you're talking about.


Branden Harvey

And you're telling a story with everything that you put into your space, there's meaning to it. There's depth to it.



Yes.


Nate Snell

Everything. I think storytelling, especially in the age of distance that can be created between people. That storytelling, the ability to look somebody in the face and tell them a story about something to bring them deeper into your own experience creates a really lasting impression on them. And it's one that they want to go share with other people. The reason people share about Pip's all the time is because they realize that it's truly a legitimate, special experience, and they want other people to share that as well. It's not a fad.


Nate Snell

It's an experience we make donuts, and we make chives. That's true. And they're both excellent. But the experience we provide and the way that we treat people like family is something that I think is really valuable, especially in a day where we're in a lot of transactionally based relationships. Owning a business. To me, it's like deposits and withdrawals. You can't just sit back and expect people are going to come give you your money. You have to also put back an equal or greater amounts back into the community that supports you that maintains gratitude.


Nate Snell

And when you have gratitude and you show that to people, and when you show that to your employees, you create this holistic circle of appreciation that ultimately ends up with customers giving you more money because you've created an experience for them that's really authentic and meaningful.


Branden Harvey

Yeah.


Nate Snell

Take care of your employees. They take care of your customers.


Branden Harvey

I was about to say, because I've had a number of employees who work for you, and they loved working for you, and some of them still work for you, and they love it. You do some really cool stuff for your employees. You've gotten international attention in the news for some of the cool things you do for your employees. Talk about some of the highlights. There's a lot to name, I guess.


Nate Snell

My two favorites. There's a lot of things that we, as business owners, have the privilege of doing choices that we get to make. And the privilege of owning a business is being able to make the choices and to do the things that you wish that people you had worked for in the past have been able to do for you or were bold enough or were brave enough to do when you put people ahead of profit. So there's little things that show people you care like buying them.


Nate Snell

Bob's Redmill Oatmeal to have every day and locally made power bars to keep their energy up, giving them free, giving them the ability to be generous with every customer, to give away product without accounting for it, without counting every Penny. Those things just create an underlying sense of value and freedom and ownership. But two of my favorite ones are the freedom to give initiative where we give. Yeah, we give each employee $30 every paycheck, and there's no accountability built in it's all on the honor system.


Nate Snell

So the only thing that we require is that in some capacity, they use $25 of that. I leave $5 off of their taxes, right? $25 to enrich the life of someone less fortunate than themselves. I wanted to create a habit of intentional giving so that they could experience the joy that comes from sharing something that they have with someone less fortunate than themselves. Because again, when you create that lasting joy of giving to someone else versus just spending money on yourself, which is a very transient, very fleeting and temporary sense of satisfaction, you create a higher level of morale and self worth in your employees.


Nate Snell

They translate that to the customers.


Branden Harvey

That's beautiful.


Nate Snell

Yeah.


Nate Snell

So it's just thinking of things from a bigger picture about how everything is interrelated and how everything ultimately works together. And even if it may seem like it's a non monetary initiative that you're engaged on, ultimately, it benefits everyone who's involved, from the customers to the employees, to charities and nonprofits to the owners.


Branden Harvey

Do you have any favorite stories that you've heard from employees? About what they've spent that $25 on.


Nate Snell

I've heard so many incredible stories. I just think the ones where people are caught unawares and their ability to give generously are the ones that are most impactful to me. There's a family sitting outside of the store, and I came out with my Thanksgiving meal and there's this family sitting there and I realized, and this is me talking from an employee's perspective, them sharing the story with me. And they said to me, and I realized I looked at them and I felt my first inclination was, man, I just spent all this money on this big Thanksgiving feast for my family.


Nate Snell

But wait, I have the money that I got from the Freedom to Give initiative. I could totally do this, and they knew that more was coming. And so they have the freedom. It kind of subverted their paradigm of not having enough to realizing that they did have something more than that family. And they went and bought them a full Thanksgiving meal. Wow, and were able to share the joy of the true meaning of Thanksgiving with his family as a result of the freedom to give.


Branden Harvey

In my mind. When I read Freedom to Give, the keyword, there was give. And what I'm hearing here is the key word is freedom. Absolutely a really good idea, because so much of the time I get paralyzed thinking I would love to give, but if I give to them, then you can just go down that track. And all of a sudden, when you feel a sense of freedom, freedom brings a lot of beautiful things. And I love that brilliant.


Nate Snell

Freedom was the overarching goal, and the giving was just the vehicle to giving people freedom to generosity and just increasing their sense of self worth. It's scientifically proven that when you help someone less fortunate than yourself, the net benefit to your own health and your happiness is something that lasts.


Branden Harvey

Wow.


Nate Snell

Versus just constantly looking to spend money on yourself to get a very temporary sense of satisfaction over the latest whatever that you bought.


Branden Harvey

Did you say that you had a second thing?


Nate Snell

Yeah. The second thing is one that we're actually rolling out. It's called the Small Business Incubator. We have a very intentional seven step hiring process, which brings us very special people who are literally one in hundreds that apply for each position we have. And it brings us a caliber of employees that are right at that juncture where they're ready to move within a year or two years into whatever career choice is their passion, whether it's being a graphic designer or working in the fashion industry or being a really high level breeze to opening up their own coffee shop.


Nate Snell

And so over the course of the last almost four years now, we have had the pleasure to be able to support employees of ours who have moved into their own small business ownership financially and through direct small business mentorship and learning while they're at the shop afterwards, helping them to plan their business model and to get their one, three and five year projections down, do market research. And I just thought, you know what? I want to create a system around that. That's a little more formalized, because I want people to understand when you work for us.


Nate Snell

It's not about us keeping you. It's about us doing the things for you we do because it's the right thing to do, and that however long you're with us, we want you to leave with a blessing, and we want you to be our customers and our greatest advocates after you leave. But for those who want to start small businesses, we want to create a realistic Avenue for them. Kind of like freedom to give it's like freedom to own, freedom to start your own business. Freedom to be an entrepreneur.


Nate Snell

We want to be the ones that invest with no, there's no sort of investment ownership in their companies. We give them the money, help them get started, help them create a business plan. So if they're there, so basically, it works like this. If they work for us for a year, we create a savings account for them so that if they have defined in the next year that they want to actually start a business, we create a savings account. And as long as they are willing to meet with us and to come up with a solid business plan, the amount of savings that they get grows exponentially, far greater exponentially to that next twelve months.


Nate Snell

So it ramps up very quickly to where when they reach that twelve month period and they've completed everything and they're ready to move on. They actually have substantial seed money so that hopefully they don't have to go into owning a small business saddled with a type of debt, which causes so many small businesses to initially fail.


Branden Harvey

That's amazing. You're kind of creating a cyclical process. You're allowing other people to create the same sort of business that you're creating something that's meaningful and important and not just taking, but it's giving.


Nate Snell

Yeah. It's the intersection of generosity and profitability. I like to say that making money and treating people well are not mutually exclusive ideals. So it's taking a niche business model that we've created and helping people to transfer some of the most important elements of that into their own small business dreams and desires.


Branden Harvey

That's incredible. I love the impact that your donut shop can have. It's way bigger than just making people donuts to make them smile, right?


Nate Snell

I think it's interesting. I'm always encouraging people who are in their 20s and early 20s and mid 20s who feel like they're spinning their wheels and go, look, guys, I manage major label bands. I was in major label bands and independent bands. I worked as operations manager at large financial firms. I built custom guitars and amps. I worked at a Dutch Harbor, Alaska for Alaska trawl fisheries. I was a barista for many years. All that to say that every experience I have is ultimately moving you towards your vocation.


Branden Harvey

That's huge.


Nate Snell

And my vocation ended up being a donut shop, and I regularly and efficiently use every experience I've had leading up to this point at 45 to manage this doughnut shop in a way that I think is really unique and brings a lot of value to community. So I kind of think of it. It's really not about doughnuts and Chai per se. It's kind of a bait and switch. People think, oh, man, those donuts and chives are great. That's what brings them in. But ultimately, the experience they have is part of a greater social mission that we have to give back to our community and to do business in a way that's very inspiring and also very accessible to show people that you can pursue your passion and do business, well, do it from a perspective that brings value to yourself and to your community and enrichment and long term satisfaction over just short term gain.


Branden Harvey

That's incredible. That's amazing. That just makes me so happy to hear you talk about that. I think it's worth mentioning that Portland is famous for its doughnuts. So voodoo. Donuts is one of the first donut shops to just really blow up, blow up blue Star donuts has gone international. Pip's is obviously continuing to grow and become a really huge staple in the community. It would be easy for you to get really competitive in this sort of city, but you have this mantra that I love, and it's really grown a lot over the last few years.


Branden Harvey

It's community over competition. And I would love to hear more about why you decided to not be competitive because most people's immediate reaction would be like, I've got to cut in and get market share. I've got to be seen as the best donut shop, but you'll be on Facebook and you'll be saying, hey, Congratulations to the donor shop down the street. They just got this new flavor. It's amazing. Everybody go check it out. Who does that? That's incredible.


Nate Snell

I think that Portland, Portland takes a lot of pride in being a progressive community. I don't think the negative elements of competition are very progressive at all. I don't think that people need to fight over scraps. There is so much to go around. There's so many people and who needs to put them in a box by saying, what's the best, this or the best that I really take a lot of joy in the fact that there's so much variety out there. Everybody has their own niche. Everybody has their own thing that they do that nobody else does exactly like that.


Nate Snell

I want to celebrate that. That's what makes me excited if people come in and they don't really like what we're doing. And I'm like, Well, what kind of doughnut are you into. I'm like, Well, I'm really into this. I can just wholeheartedly say, Well, I've had all of these donuts from all these places. I really recommend that you go try this one.


Branden Harvey

That's really good.


Nate Snell

It's really fun. It takes all the pressure off. When you're so caught up in competing, it creates worry. It creates stress. I don't know about you, but when I do things that I'm passionate about, those aren't adjectives that I want to use in the pursuit of my vocation. I would rather say bringing people together, creating value, building a stronger community, being stronger together. So it's been interesting to see this almost groundswell shift in the way that donut shops operate over the last four years that we've been in business to create this new paradigm shift for them.


Nate Snell

Like, hey, you guys, all cocoa donuts delicious. Donuts let's all get together at my shop and let's sit down and let's figure out what's worked for you. What's not let's exchange ideas. You have ways you do things that I probably haven't even thought of yet. I can fully be enriched and benefit from your experience. Inversely. Maybe I have some things I've done that I can talk to you about that can enrich your experience and create a new value proposition for the way you run your business.


Branden Harvey

That's so cool.


Nate Snell

It's just more strength. And when people feel like they're supported and we're not having to compete, we can actually focus on the things that are important to us, which is serving our customers while making an excellent product. Let's take competition out of the equation.


Branden Harvey

Yeah, that's amazing. And you talked about this a little bit earlier. You made reference to this, but Pip's is just one donut shop in a neighborhood in Portland. It's small, and it's local. Why not franchise it? Why not Shark Tank? It why not create a whole bunch of them? Why not sell it? And I know the answer. You've alluded to this again and again. But tell me about why your heart is in this community.


Nate Snell

Well, I think the overarching desire of my heart in terms of how I run business is to have enough and enough to me is so luxurious. I've spent my whole life living paycheck to paycheck, going from one job to the other, just scraping by when you reach a point where you're doing a job that you absolutely love and you're making all ends meet. That, to me, is the epitome of success.


Branden Harvey

That's amazing.


Nate Snell

So I don't want to personally fall into the trap that I'm really wary of by over expanding. Because when you expand, you create all of the more things that bring more of the things that bring you stress and the more stress I have in my life, the less I'm able to enjoy the thing that I'm doing. So, yes, I could have more money. But ultimately, what is that? More money going to buy me in terms of happiness and satisfaction. I have a thing that has become over a million dollar business in four years in this little tiny shop that's really involved in the community.


Nate Snell

And I love what I'm doing. And I have a really intimate connection with my customers, with our business, with the business community and with our employees. I'm personally wary of diluting the thing that I love most by creating too much of it. Also, in an era where you're able to get just about anything instantaneously, I think there's a lot of value in creating a business that people have to actually work to get to. We're open at 08:00 a.m. Because I don't want to wake up too early and I don't want my people to wake up too early.


Nate Snell

And we're closed at 04:00 p.m.. So that people can have a life when they get off work. Doing those things means that most people can't come to your business because they work in, like, a nine to five job. So that gives us a really mellow nice week that's manageable. We can get caught up. But just bonkers weekend. I intentionally funnel all of our business in the weekend. We have 50 50 split between tourists and regulars on the weekdays, and then we have about 70% tourists and about 40% locals on the weekends.


Nate Snell

So I can't imagine replicating the experience that people have in our shop by opening up five other shops.


Branden Harvey

Absolutely.


Nate Snell

Plus, we're making good money. And I love what I do again. So many people I've talked to that have started small businesses, especially when they're a little bit younger. I work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for years. I hate my job. How sad is it that people hate the very thing that they started being so passionate about? So I just said, you know what? I'm going to not work as much as I can. I'm going to hire great people. I'm going to trust them.


Nate Snell

I just want to scrape by and love what I'm doing. That was my base level. And then it's grown so much more than that.


Branden Harvey

That's incredible.


Nate Snell

So everything that comes after that, I'm so grateful for there's no ego tied up in it because my baseline was just loving what I do and creating a place I wanted to hang out with all things I wanted to eat and drink. That was it. I didn't have these goals of being rich or being a millionaire or anything like that. So all of the success that we've had, which is funny, people think, well, you have lines out the door. You must be raking it in. Well, the more money we make, the more I give back.


Nate Snell

So even though we're making that much more money exponentially, the amount of money that I am putting back into our employees and into our community is as exponential as the money that we're making. Right?


Branden Harvey

Yeah.


Nate Snell

So it's funny. It's just with greater money comes the ability to give back greater. But you have to stay in that sweet spot. Too much money brings too much stress. Too little money brings too much stress. Yeah. I'm just trying to live in that space.


Branden Harvey

That's good.


Nate Snell

That bandwidth of gratitude. And having enough. There's a perfect space. I'm trying to balance it always. I never want to fall on that trap of hating the thing that I started, that's good loving. So I'm always trying to maintain the spirit of the startup for as long as possible.


Branden Harvey

That's really good.


Nate Snell

Yeah. It's just, like flowing with it.


Branden Harvey

Yeah. I think a lot of people would look at what you're doing and you just alluded to this and say that you have been successful. And you talked earlier in the episode about how you've had a lot of experiences that have prepared you for what you're doing today. You've had so many diverse experiences. Do you think that now that you've found success or you've found this thing that you're passionate about and it's getting attention and you continue to enjoy? Do you think that's what you're going to do forever, or is this just another thing that's going to prepare you for the next thing?


Branden Harvey

What does that look like? Because you're a step ahead of me in life and for me, I'm like, okay, cool. Do I keep on doing this thing that I've been doing forever because I found a degree of success in it, and I enjoy it or do. At one point, I let it go, even though I continue to enjoy it, so I can jump to the next thing. Where are you at with that?


Nate Snell

Well, I can answer that question because the very experience of how Pip started addresses that I was doing something that I thought I absolutely loved that engaged me in all of my passions. And yet when an opportunity presented itself to stretch me and to take me into unknown territories with my wife, we gave it a lot of careful consideration. We decided to go for it, so I'm going to go with it and love what I'm doing for as long as it's the right thing to be doing.


Nate Snell

I'm always open to new experiences, but I'm willing to go in the long run. I've been married for 18 years now. I have three kids. I've seen the ups and downs of relationships, the lows, lows and the highs and the highs. Passion only gets you so far. Perseverance is what's going to get you through those times when your passion isn't enough. Passion may get you started, but it's not going to maintain you in the long run. You need to have the perseverance to get through those times when passion seems to be gone.


Nate Snell

But you have to think I'm going to stick it out. I'm going to continue because I know that there's something deeper and better right around the corner. It's going to come. It's going to be a hard slog. But all of the greatest things grow in the Valley. They don't grow on the mountaintop, right? Your mountaintop experiences aren't something that are going to maintain you. It's how you operate when you're down deep in it. So I'm open. But I'm also open to sticking it out again. It's a balance.


Nate Snell

It's sticking it out. But also being open to knowing when the right time to make a new decision is that is absolutely beautiful.


Branden Harvey

And I think that's the perfect time for us to transition to this part of the show, where every single episode I love to ask our guests a few of the same questions. Okay. And so the first question is this how would you describe the kind of person that you most admire in the world.


Nate Snell

Constancy a person that I can rely on, like my dad, that I know that no matter what stage of life I've gone through, he's always been there for me. And he's told me honestly when I've done things that he feels aren't healthy to me. But the overarching thing is that he's always supported me. So constancy commitment and consistency. My dad has modeled that for me and that I value greatly. I'd be at a rock show. My dad, I'd have dreadlocks playing in a grunge band on stage at the X Ray Cafe, which traced from Voodoo.


Nate Snell

Donuts owned amazing.


Nate Snell

Yeah. I begged him for my first all ages show.


Branden Harvey

That's cool.


Nate Snell

So I'd be up there playing. And my dad, he's, like, standing on the back wall, up on top of a bench to get away from the Mosh pit. He's standing there and I go, dad, hey, man, what did you think of the show? And he tells me it was very interesting, but whether he liked it or not, he was there. He was always there for me. And he always supported me, even if he didn't necessarily understand what I was doing that to me. That's how I try to live my life.


Nate Snell

Constancy consistency, being there for people, even if I don't necessarily understand what they're doing, like looking past the thing they're doing into who they are as people and supporting them as people.


Branden Harvey

That's beautiful, constancy. It's really good. Question number two, what are you consuming that you love right now? So maybe it's a TV show, a book, a movie, and ideally, something that relates back to some of the themes we've talked about in this episode. So whether it's community or creating a business like this, whatever it is.


Nate Snell

Well, I know a lot of people kind of bounce in a lot of different professions. Orientations, whether it's business or religion, are always kind of going from one book to the other. And I've never been like that. I've never been the latest and greatest author reader, but I did come across a book called Small Giants, and it's just completely blown my mind. I didn't realize there were other companies that were out there that were doing things very similar to how we do things that have maintained passion and focus for their business and ultimately achieved incredible levels of success.


Nate Snell

So just when you read a book like that and you always say, hey, I'm not alone. It's so encouraging and affirming. So that book has just been rocking my world in a great deal. But I also read three times a day. So I have a multiplicity of different books that are always going from multiple different genres, just depending upon kind of how I'm feeling. I don't watch very much TV. I play a lot of music. I actually have a band that practices at Pits after hours.


Nate Snell

I was a little selfish when we expanded into our community room to make sure that it sounded really good. I sound shaped everything. I put acoustic foam behind these tapestries that we have hanging from the ceiling. So I sound shaped the room so that when I got in there with my band, it would sound really good.


Branden Harvey

That's the side of being a small business owner right there.


Nate Snell

Yeah, I'd say the thing that just feeds me so much right now is in this book. It's so affirming, something that I have found to be so important and so oftentimes misunderstood. There's this movement that's going on that tells you you should have everything you should have it all. I disagree slightly with that. I agree that you should have it all, but you just can't have it all at the same time. So I put down music and playing music and building guitars so that I could focus on building Pip's.


Nate Snell

I did intentionally sacrifice something for a period of time in order to focus on something else, but it didn't mean it was the death of those things. Yeah, I didn't mourn them as something that had died in order to do something else. I simply had the piece just to say, I'm going to just put this aside for a while so I can focus all of my energy on this thing. Now. It was about three and a half years later. I picked up the guitar again. I started writing songs, I put a band together, and now I have the best band practice place in the entire city.


Nate Snell

You'll play a rock out. Nobody cares. No neighbors. I didn't have that before, and I'm still writing songs that I really think are relevant. And I'm having a great time. And now I have money to buy the music gear that I always wanted. So, yeah, you can have it all. Just not all at the same time. Sometimes you have to put other things aside in order to really focus on the thing that's right in front of you. And reading that book has just really affirmed that in my life and seeing how that's worked has been really encouraging.


Branden Harvey

That's so good.


Nate Snell

I love it.


Branden Harvey

I've got a new question that I'm trying out. When is the last time you changed your mind on something. So you believed something to be true. And then you are open minded enough to say, I'm going to rethink this. I'm going to look at somebody else's perspective.


Nate Snell

And you came to a new conclusion almost every day at my shop, the systems that we've created. I sit down with new employees and I say, hey, guys, we have six different stations that all operate in harmony with one another, to have a system that creates a product in a timely manner and with excellence. But I only have my own perspective. So learn the way that we have done it up until this point. And then if you have a suggestion for a way to do it better or differently, that's going to bring more value, bring it to me.


Nate Snell

And all of our systems started off with me. I opened up the shop, nobody was teaching me. I had to create them all myself. But our systems have been refined and have been changed over time by the input from our employees. So not being stuck in a paradigm of thinking that, you know it all or you have the very best way has been an instrumental to us becoming the best that we can be, being open to employees, speaking to their boss and saying, I have an idea and me as the boss listening and saying, Dang, that is such a great idea.


Nate Snell

I never would have thought of that. Thank you so much. We are going to implement that and then teaching that to our will you teach that way to everyone else? They're like, yeah, and then they have ownership and they teach and things just keep getting better. So having 16 employees now and having 16 minds put to the tasks from all different varying perspectives, bringing those perspectives, elevate the experience and the efficiency and the excellence of what we do.


Branden Harvey

And looking at that as an asset and not a liability is huge.


Nate Snell

Yeah, but the caveat is learn how we do it first and then if you have a better idea. So it's not just I think I've got a better idea. I don't really know what you're doing, but I bet I can do it better. So it's intentionality. It's like, learn it first and then come to us. I want a reasoned, logical explanation of how that's going to improve. If you can give that to me, I'll change my mind. I absolutely hate it when I worked for places and I would question, Why do you do things the way you do?


Nate Snell

And the answer would be, Well, that's just the way we do them like. It infuriated me to the core of my being. I just wanted to pull my hair out and run screaming like a madman down the hallways. Because just because you have a way of doing things doesn't mean it's the best way it can be done. And I'm always open to changing my mind to make it better.


Branden Harvey

Perfect. That's really good. My last question is based on the ways you've chosen to step out and live your life differently. What's one thing you'd encourage someone else to do in their own life?


Nate Snell

Today, every day I wake up at about 05:00 a.m. And I spend an hour by myself, no phone, no books, no input. And I just sit on a chair. I drink my coffee. It's super pleasurable to make coffee in it, and I sit there and I'm just open. So I create intentional time for myself. And almost I would say, probably like, 98% of the time. I just end up with gratitude because I've created a space where I'm considering everything that's happened, and I consider what the alternatives could be.


Nate Snell

And I'm so filled with gratitude and perspective. It gives me perspective going into my day. So just creating intentional time to sit there and just consider all the things that you're grateful for. Just send you off on, like, the best way. I think so many people wake up and they're immediately on their phone. They're stressed and they're already in this me just creating a pocket of safety in my life to just sit there and reflect on things I'm grateful for. That's why I don't think that Mondays are bad, because every day is an amazing opportunity, and every day that we're not sleeping, we have an amazing opportunity to do good in the world.


Nate Snell

So I don't ascribe different levels of importance to different days of the week because I sit there in the mornings regardless of what day it is. And I just reflect on the things that are good in my life. And I go forward with that mindset. And it's almost like I'm kind of like, arming myself up to go out and get with the world. It's just a great place to start.


Branden Harvey

You're starting your day with gratefulness.


Nate Snell

Yeah, with gratitude, because it could be so much worse starting off reflecting on the things I'm grateful for. It's funny when you start thinking you start with just a couple of things and then it just almost snowballs. You just realize how many great things there are in your life. And when you go out in the world, it's like, wow, that thing that may have been a really big deal to me had I not started that way, it's nothing. It's just nothing. There's so much great stuff happening.


Nate Snell

I can deal. I can handle it.


Branden Harvey

Man. This has been such a fun conversation. I'm leaving, just excited and inspired. If people want to eat Pip's Doughnuts, obviously, they can come to Portland, come down to Fremont Street and eat some delicious donuts probably get four dozen like I do. But if they want to follow along from afar or they just want to continue to see the amazing things that you're doing with this community and creating community, not competition. Where can they do that?


Nate Snell

our prime social media platforms are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and they're all just forward slashpip's original, so good.


Branden Harvey

And it's so fun. And you'll probably see.


Nate Snell

And I do all of the social media stuff myself because I think it's really important to reveal the person behind the business and to have a direct connection with our audience and our potential customers and our existing customers. So I talk about it. It's not just about pretty product shots. It's about revealing who the person is behind the business, how we run our business. I think it's a real privilege to be able to use social media in a way that enlightens people that informs people that educates them and uplifts them.


Branden Harvey

It's amazing. And I love that we got to do a little bit of that here on the show today, right? Thank you so much for being here, Nate. I really appreciate it. And, yeah, this is so good. Okay.


Nate Snell

Thanks, Branden.


Branden Harvey

Thank you.


Branden Harvey

Thank you so much to each and every one of you who tuned into Sounds Good this week. I love getting to have these conversations so much, and if you love listening to them, please consider sharing about Sounds Good online. I love reading each and every one of your tweets, your Facebook posts, your Instagrams. They mean the world. If you want a little bit more positivity in your life, I actually send out this weekly newsletter every single week called The Goodnewsletter. It's five curated, good news stories that remind us that the world is full of goodness.


Branden Harvey

If we just take the time to notice it, you can join thousands of people who already subscribe at goodnewsletter.org, and this week, and every week, you can find the show notes for this week's episode of Soundsgood at soundsgoodpodcasts.com. This show sounds good as Branden Harvey is part of the Gradient Podcast Network is created in collaboration between Gradient and I. And with that, that's our app for this week's podcast. I'll see you you online and I'll talk to you next week when we get the opportunity to learn from another inspiring person.


Branden Harvey

Sound good?


Episode Details

January 4, 2017

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Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Every week, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with the people driving positive change against the world's greatest problems. Each episode will leave you with a sense of hope about the good in the world — and a sense of direction on how we can all be a part of that good. Episodes are released every Monday.

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