Knowing Who Tori Wants to Be

Category: Build a Life You Love

A little indecision can go a long way. That’s how things have worked out for Tori. She didn’t know who she wanted to be, so she didn’t run right to college after high school. She took a job with BIGGBY COFFEE that she thought would be fun. As a result, she found an entire world of new friends, a career, a husband, and a calling. The one seemingly small decision Tori made while waiting to figure out the rest of her life, put her on the right trajectory of building a life she loves.

 

After graduating high school, Tori wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. College seemed like the right way to go, but not yet. College is expensive and she didn’t have any idea what she would major in. So rather than gambling tuition and risking a false start, she decided to give herself a gap year to figure things out.

 

She was working for Subway, but that wasn’t working for her. She and her friends spent a lot of time at the BIGGBY COFFEE in Jenison, Michigan, and she loved it there, so rather than giving any more of her time to being a sandwich artist, she decided to apply at BIGGBY and try her hand at making lattes instead.

 

It didn’t take long before Tori made new friends with her co-workers. After enjoying being a barista for a year, an opportunity for a promotion came up. The store trainer (or PERColator, as we call it; a nod to PERC, an acronym for the company Operating Philosophy), had decided to leave, and Tori stepped into the role with ease.

 

In many BIGGBY stores, the store trainer works hand in hand with the store manager to ensure the success of the store. About a year after becoming the PERColator, things got extra complicated for Tori because of that close working relationship when the manager decided to leave. Then some of the friends and family who worked with that manager also chose to follow suit, leaving Tori and those who remained in a precarious position.

 

In the two years since she had started, Tori had watched the size of the organization she worked for, owned by BIGGBY franchisee Tim Hoffman, grow from four locations to nine locations. Even though she still wasn’t sure what to do about college and, you know, the rest of her life, she chose to stay, even amidst the relationship-trickiness that the mini-walk-out had created and the ensuing drama.

 

Something to know about Tori – she is naturally inclined to want to avoid conflict and choosing to stick with the job that put her at the center of the messiness of the manager’s departure was a very intentional decision. It is deeply ingrained in her to care for the people around her and help make things right. You can see the genuine care cross her face when she hears about a struggle that someone is going through. Her brow knits up and she forms the slightest smile, with a fractional pout mixed in, at once signaling her concern as well as her optimism that it will get better.

 

But amid all that drama, despite a nearly-permanently knitted brow, Tori banked on herself and on the opportunity for growth that Tim’s organization seemed to offer. That turned out to be the right bet, when a few months after things quieted down at the store, she had the opportunity to take another leap forward in what was quickly transitioning from a job into a career.

 

When the woman serving as the district trainer for all of Tim’s locations decided to step down from that role, she insisted that Tori take her place. That recommendation proved to be a powerful one. Tori, Tim, and Sarah—Tim’s district manager—all treated it as a done deal. Tori would take over, no need to consider other possibilities.

 

Tori suddenly became responsible for conducting barista training for all new hires for their organization as the Director of Training. The move put her in an ideal position to experience strong personal and professional growth, even if she didn’t fully recognize it at the time.

 

Taking on this new role gave her a regular opportunity to work with groups of new baristas. Even though Tori is an introvert, she found that the work was very fulfilling. Preparing new hires to put on the apron was an opportunity to demonstrate care for them, allowing her to integrate a deep part of her personality with her daily responsibilities. It also created the opportunity to establish relationships with people as they came into the organization, something that became much more fulfilling when she reconnected with some of them through the more advanced training sessions she offered.

 

Perhaps most importantly, the new position meant she began working directly alongside Tim and Sarah, two of the people who Tori most directly credits with helping her to develop personally and professionally. Tim is an idea guy. He’s an instinctive strategist to his core and a learner who has committed himself to his own personal growth and the growth of his organization. Sarah is a pragmatist. She gets things done. She’s able to stay on target without getting overwhelmed by organizational complexity or the drama of high emotions. Tim and Sarah were a one-two punch: they created opportunity and then provided the advice, critique, and accountability that Tori needed to help take advantage of those opportunities.

 

Beyond having Tim and Sarah as close allies, Tori also had a dedicated support system among the rest of the friends she had made throughout the organization. Tori was conscious of, and grateful, for being surrounded by people who clearly cared for her wellbeing.

 

Having that kind of support and love inside the workplace made some of the exceedingly difficult work they were all doing much more manageable. Tim merged his operations with another West Michigan-based multi-unit BIGGBY franchise owner, who coincidentally is also named Tim—Tim Barker – and the organization nearly doubled in size. Consequently, everyone involved became busy with the work of determining what kind of an organization they wanted to be, a natural consequence of the need to merge the perspectives of “the Tims” into a new vision for their organization. Oh yeah, and during all this change, Tori decided it was time to get serious about completing her undergraduate degree.

 

After completing her Associates degree at a local community college, she learned that she was energized by the idea of doing work that mattered for people. Tori wanted the opportunity to live out caring for people and being able to build a career out of it. She decided that she would pursue a degree in psychology, with the goal of becoming a counselor.

 

The fresh-faced high school graduate who didn’t know who she wanted to be years before, was really starting to get things figured out. She signed up for a 12-week workshop being offered by the BIGGBY Home Office that helped to push her along that path. Suitably, the workshop was called Knowing Who You Want to Be. Using the BIGGBY-published Moonshot Guidebook for structure, and a book called You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero, she had dipped her toes into visioning for her own life, embracing herself for who she is and getting out of her own way.  By the end of the 12 weeks, she had the first iteration of her Moonshot, a concise guidepost for summing up what you want your life to be about.

 

The workshop landed at a perfect time for her. She had started to date Ryan, who she had originally met when he was a barista at one of the other stores Tim Hoffman owned. Work had steadily become increasingly busy for her as she accumulated additional responsibilities. The reading and work inside the guidebook helped her to see that even while she was interested in continuing to build her career, and was finishing her degree, it was her personal life and especially her family that would always mean the most to her.

She talked about her plans with Tim Hoffman, and they did some dreaming together. Tim also believed in the importance of the kind of work that Tori wanted to make a career of, and they talked about what it would take for the organization to be able to grow to the point where they could invest in that kind of position.

 

It was conversations like these, along with also seeing the kind of organization the Tims were looking to build, that brought Tori to realize that she might not actually have to leave BIGGBY after graduating. That in an organization like this—one that believed in people being able to bring their true selves to work, where the organization would support people through the challenges of life, help them grow, and in so doing, grow the organization itself—where she could have the opportunity to turn a career at BIGGBY into a calling. An opportunity to fully align her personal passions with her professional trajectory.

 

The Tims and their leadership team had solidly demonstrated their commitment to be a people-centric organization. They instituted a make-a-difference program, where employees could pass along word to the leadership team about someone in the company who was in need, maybe behind on bills or dealing with unexpected car repairs. The employee, who might not even be aware that a friend at work had nominated them, would receive a card with a check in it that was intended to help relieve some of the financial pressure they were under.

 

They also partnered with the BOOST Sphere at the Home Office, the team dedicated to people and culture development, to do monthly sessions with the leadership team and all of the managers from their West Michigan store, creating a space for learning and growing together.

 

That was the culture that they were already deep into building when three major developments all came together in 2020. COVID hit. Tim and Tim brought two new partners into the business, Kyle and Tyson, and became Area Representatives for BIGGBY. COVID introduced whole new worlds of challenge into the operations of the organization, especially as they transitioned into being Area Representatives, contractually responsible for growing BIGGBY in West Michigan and supporting the other franchise owners there.

 

Meanwhile, the shutdowns of the early months of the pandemic led to Tori and Ryan spending that much more time together, just the two of them. That created space for doing the kind of thinking and dreaming that a young couple who is in love can particularly revel in. Ryan’s proposal out on the pier in Grand Haven was the natural and lovely outcome.

 

Not only did Tori and Ryan come out of 2020 with plans for a union, but so did Tim, Tim, Kyle, Tyson, and the rest of the leadership team. They founded Pavilion Ventures, the newly incorporated management company for their BIGGBY pursuits, as well as other brands they will add under their umbrella (or rather, pavilion) in the future. As they have declared, they are, at their core, “an organization committed to creating a culture of growth, value, and belonging.”

 

Those values are evident in Tori’s journey through the company, from back when she joined when Tim H. owned four locations, to the 27 and counting they have today. It was the people around her who mattered the most to Tori Rossin, the barista, and it’s what’s at the center of what Pavilion is doing. So much so that as of this year, Tori VanSpriell (they were married in October 2021!), whose Moonshot is “to live a life more concerned with my emotional footprint than my achievements,” was recently named Director of People Development at Pavilion.

 

The dreams that Tori talked about with Tim are coming true. Her full-time job is taking care of people and making a real difference for them. And the dreams that she wrote in her Moonshot Guidebook before Tori and Ryan even started seeing each other? Those, too, are coming true. Tori is about to be a mother.

 

For a girl who hit pause on life when she wasn’t sure what she wanted to be, eight years later, Tori has a clear vision of who she wants to be, and how she wants to be—as a person, a teammate and employee, a wife, and a mom. She is building a life that she loves!

 

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