"I definitely thrive off of, if we have a great vibe in the office, then we're going to get work done, and knowing that we're working towards a goal, what fuels me is teamwork." Chelsea Battistelli, executive assistant to CEO of Death Wish Coffee Company
Meet Chelsea Battistelli, the executive assistant to CEO Mike Brown at Death Wish Coffee Company. Chelsea joins the podcast this week to talk about joining the team, her first impressions of the company, and how her job has changed since day one. Trying to wrangle Mike Brown on a daily basis can be challenging, so Chelsea also talks about her love of good food, fun, and fantasy and science fiction. New ideas surrounding Dungeons and Dragons, Twitch shows and more, Chelsea dives into her fandom of Marvel movies and Doctor Who and also talks about what has surprised her working for The World's Strongest Coffee Company.
Jeff: Please list your favorite employee and your least favorite employee.
Chelsea: I don't want to do that at all.
Jeff: Oh, but you have to. This is mandatory. Mike Brown is watching the podcast.
Chelsea: No. All right, the nice Death Wish.
Jeff: If you just want to use the normal answer of Kane for either, you can.
Jeff: Okay. I love it.
Chelsea: Kane, and my favorite soon-to-be employee is hopefully Odin Brown, so fingers crossed we get an office dog.
Jeff: I really hope we get an office dog.
Chelsea: Today's Odin's birthday.
Jeff: Aw. Happy birthday, Odin.
Chelsea: I don't know how old that he is.
Jeff: In dog years, he's forever.
Chelsea: In dog years, he's adorable.
Jeff: Okay. So, you have now worked at Death Wish Coffee for, correct me if I'm wrong, seven months?
Chelsea: Yeah, seven months. Seven.
Jeff: Okay. So let's back to when you first stepped foot in Death Wish Coffee. Did you know about the company ... obviously you did because you applied for the job. That's a silly question. But I mean, had you heard about Death Wish before applying to the job?
Chelsea: Yeah, so I went to college up here. I went to Siena College, and I had heard about Death Wish because after college, after a lot of life in between, I worked at a wine shop and we sold Death Wish Coffee vodka, and I just remember seeing that huge bottle just like ...
Chelsea: The black matte bottle, being like, "Oh my gosh. This is crazy." My brother's a big coffee drinker too, so it was his birthday. I brought him home the bottle, and he loved it. So that's when I really ... I had already heard of it when I was in college, and who we were, but I didn't really how expensive we were. And that's when I'm like, "Oh, like coffee in space. Comic books." Seeing that relationship with Death Wish Coffee vodka got me into learning more about what Death Wish was all about.
Jeff: Totally. And so, okay, on that respect, your official title is executive assistant, correct?
Jeff: Okay. And we'll get into a little bit of your background as well, because that's not something that you're unfamiliar with. But walking into Death Wish Coffee, first day as an executive assistant, and for people who are watching, you are the first ...
Chelsea: First ever. We've never had ...
Jeff: Of Death Wish.
Chelsea: Yeah. In the world.
Jeff: In the world. It's the first one in the world. We literally created ...
Chelsea: People could not assist each other.
Jeff: I want to know, did you have expectations coming to this company? Were they met? Were they exceeded? Was it different than you thought?
Chelsea: Right. So, it was to your point, yeah. This position didn't create until I came here, and off the cuff, Mike Brown was very open about, "I don't really know what to expect from you or how this will go," but he was really good at, once he actually put his pen to paper and laying out, "These are your responsibilities. This is your job," what he expected.
Chelsea: And then, that first couple weeks, we found a really nice rhythm. But yeah, no. I mean, my first day, honestly because I know you're going to ask me this question, the only thing I remember was just so bad, because it wasn't that long ... I just remember meeting John Swedish.
Jeff: Everybody remembers their first John Swedish.
Chelsea: It was the first day, and Mike and I drove from the office to the warehouse, and he parks the car and he goes, "All right. You're going to meet John. He's the head of the warehouse right now. Try your best not to fall into a John trap."
Chelsea: I'm like, "Okay. I don't know what that means." And then, within two hours of just a quick, "Hello, this is John," and a tour of the warehouse was, "Oh, okay. So that's a John trap." We talked about his cousin who he came to visit. We talked about a ghost that he was 100%, he was like, "We have a ghost in the warehouse."
Chelsea: And then, it's my first day. He's like, "Oh, you want to see something cool?" I'm like, "Okay." He's like, "Here's an ax to hold. Here are my flying stars."
Jeff: Did you expect so many weapons at Death Wish Coffee?
Chelsea: Oh, no. I did expect a few. I knew like, the Viking theme. I'm like, okay, I can see that. But small army amount of weapons? No, did not expect that. So, yeah. I remember that, and then I remember Mike was trying to get a feel for what kind of person I was and what my interests were, and I just remember saying that I really did like D&D podcasts, and he goes, "What?" I'm like, "Yeah, I love D&D podcasts. I listen to a few that ..." Am I allowed to plug them?
Chelsea: Oh, yeah. My Brother, My Brother and Me. You guys should ...
Jeff: Yeah, please listen to these. D&D podcasts are amazing, and by the way, this is brand new information that you don't even know. I am developing a brand new idea with John Curtin from Albany Distilling.
Chelsea: From Albany Distilling. Yeah, he's a liar, John Curtin. No, I love him.
Jeff: Well, we're developing a Death Wish Coffee D&D collaboration.
Chelsea: Ooh, I love that.
Jeff: So stay tuned.
Chelsea: Yeah, him and I were talking about it.
Jeff: Yeah, stay tuned.
Chelsea: Yeah. He promised I would join his campaign, and that was about two months ago. So John Curtin, if you're watching ...
Jeff: Well, we're going to make some stuff happen.
Chelsea: I love this idea. But yeah, I remember telling him, "Yeah, I like D&D podcasts," and the one I was listening to was The Adventure Zone, which My Brother, My Brother and Me does. And he goes, so excited, he's like, "Really? All the guys at the warehouse play that." I'm like, "Really? They have enough time to play at work?" And he thought I was talking about Magic.
Jeff: Magic: The Gathering.
Jeff: Which is what they were playing at work, which was on their lunch break, they literally made this little man cave behind all the boxes, and they would do quick Magic: The Gathering games, which is really fun. But, yeah.
Chelsea: So, yeah. I remember having that conversation, and then it was just me trying to meet with all the managers that week, and I remember Kane honestly just being super intimidating.
Jeff: He is.
Chelsea: And just being like, "This is a thankless job." I'm like, "I thought this job didn't create." He's like, "Yeah. No one's going to thank you." I was like, "Shit." And then Kane and I both live in Troy, so now we've gotten past that really awkward conversation and hang out with him all the time, and he's a Kane bear.
Jeff: Well, one of the things that I talk about a lot when I get to interview the employees here is that come from places within Death Wish where we kind of are learning on the go. We're learning the job on the go. You do have a little background, and I said we'll get into that in a second, but if you go back, Mike Brown himself has been on this podcast three times.
Jeff: And if you go back to the first time that he was on the podcast, he actually talks about how, as this company started to grow, as he was going from just literally starting a company in the basement of Coffee Traders by himself, to having three employees to having five employees to having seven employees, and now with 37 employees, what really has been one of his biggest hurdles that he's talked about multiple times is relinquishing control.
Jeff: He is, like all of us, especially when you have a business and it's your idea and it's your baby, and he comes from an accounting background, he comes from the other side of the business background. Being in that position where it's like, "Oh my god, I can't physically do all of these things in a day," to needing an executive assistant, needing a CFO, needing these different people. It was a big battle for him. So bringing you on was a big step for him.
Chelsea: Oh, absolutely.
Jeff: And that first, that beginning, like you kind of learned the job. You kind of created the job as you were brought onto the job, right?
Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically he kind of, just like you said, he had all these thoughts going. He had all these moving parts and he finally came to a crossroads where he's like, "Okay, I need an assistant." And I think he really kept it internal. We have a great part-time HR consultant who is phenomenal, but Mike's like, "Nah, I'm doing this one on my own," and went rogue with it.
Jeff: That's a Mike Brown move.
Chelsea: A Mike Brown move right there. I was very nervous during that first week, finding out this is how he went about it, and I was just like, "Oh, no. What are people going to think of me?" People don't really know what an executive assistant does. Like we said, we never had one here, so really what I do is, I'm making sure that every voice in our company is heard, like his priorities are set for the day.
Chelsea: At the end of the day, I was like, "Okay, these are our priorities. Did we get them done? No? Okay, we can do them tomorrow. And by the way, marketing needs this. Customer service needs this." And really just creating that role of gatekeeper, as well as just kind of being a sponge and recognizing what Mike's priorities are.
Chelsea: If his priority, all he can do is contact review today, then I cannot have him being distracted by office politics. And really being able to be open to staff and letting the staff know, "I'm here. I'm an earpiece for you, and I will happily pass along whatever your concerns are to Mike." And just knowing when that timing is.
Chelsea: So timing has definitely been a crucial thing that I had to develop. "Okay, Mike has time for this. All right, no, he doesn't." And then sometimes, like I said, we'll have this down, we'll have this planned, and then I'll walk into his office and he's holding two drones in his hand and he goes, "Let's make them fight outside."
Jeff: The perils and fun of working at Death Wish Coffee.
Jeff: Do you feel like the job ... and again, this is kind of a new perspective because you've been here for seven months, but do you feel like the job has changed since your first day here, to what you do day-to-day now?
Chelsea: Yeah. I feel like, initially we had this idea of kind of finding a balance between being a personal assistant/executive assistant, so doing office things and helping Mike with whatever other things come around. Which it varies week to week if, this week, I have to make sure that his dog Odin's being taken care of. Or it's actually a funny thing, the second or third week, we have a Death Wish Coffee pickup truck, which is super badass and it's branded. And he was just like, "Okay, this needs to get an oil change."
Chelsea: So it's that, "Okay, today I'm doing an oil change. In the morning, I have to take the truck for an oil change, but in the afternoon, I have to be vetting out possible production vendors." So it is crazy cool, the fact that my brain gets to flip from job to job, goal to goal, and I'm not just being stagnant into one thing, where if you start thinking about something, you're not making any progress, and you're just beating your head against the wall.
Chelsea: I really do have a luxury of being able to jump from project to project, department to department, and really understand the company in a holistic perspective that I think is super awesome about my position, because a lot of people do, "I'm just doing marketing all day." And we do try to do multi-department trainings.
Jeff: We do, but you really get to kind of be a busy bee between all of that, and that's really needed. And you bring a lot of your experience to that role. Can we talk a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Death Wish?
Chelsea: Right. So, immediately before this, I was working down in Long Island ... What up, 516?
Jeff: You're from Long Island, right?
Chelsea: I'm from Long Island born and raised, yup.
Jeff: It's a very long island at the bottom of New York, for those who don't know.
Chelsea: Yeah. And if you're from Long Island, you're like, "Where are you?" "I'm on Long Island." I'm not "in" Long Island. That's a big ... You can tell if someone's from Long Island. "Yeah, I'm on the island right now."
Chelsea: But yeah, I grew up on Long Island. I went to Siena College. I got a degree in history and political science, and I thought I was going to be a curator and work in museums, and basically be like a female Indiana Jones. But then I'm like, "Oh, school is expensive."
Jeff: School is expensive.
Chelsea: So, yeah. I moved down to Philadelphia for about five years, where I worked in politics. I worked for the state government. I worked on a bunch of campaigns for some really, really admirable candidates who all hold office still. So I'm running through the amount of campaigns.
Jeff: And you did a lot of what eventually became this job in those roles, right?
Chelsea: Exactly. It's meeting with community members. "Okay, what do you want in a candidate?" It's very similar to, "Okay, what do you guys want to see in merch?" Just having those conversations and being able to bring it back to either Mike Brown or bring it back to the state rep. "Okay, this is what the people are saying. These are ideas to get there. What do you think about this? Is this a possibility?"
Chelsea: At the same time too, having his schedule on point, having him be doing the proper reading on different legislation. Same thing. Like, "Mike, look at these contracts. All this needs to be reviewed." So, very similar priorities and time management.
Chelsea: At the same time too, if you're working a campaign, they're all basically grassroots, so zero-dollar budget. You're in the campaign office till 3:00 in the morning, trying to get together a town hall and calling seniors at 6:00 because they've already had dinner, because they have dinner at 4:00, and reminding them to get out and vote. Asking them if they need a ride to the polling stations. Begging college students to come for free to throw on a T-shirt and go door-to-door and handing out fliers.
Chelsea: So, just really organization and mobilizing people. And that's pretty much what I do here. At the end of December, we got a bunch of new desks because we're getting new staff, and Mike's like, "I'm tired of looking at these boxes. We need to get these desks together."
Chelsea: So again, mobilizing the staff. I'm like, "Hey, guys. Who wants to put together desks and buy some beer? Let's hang out. We'll throw on some music." So it is really applicable. What do people want? It's beer.
Jeff: It is, it is.
Chelsea: Yeah, and there's so much comradery that comes from those just dig in, grind it out. And that was what attracted me to Death Wish and the more I got to know Mike and what this culture was, it's such a similar platform, and there's such a clear line for me for working hard and seeing that pay off day in and day out. And it's great.
Jeff: Yeah. No, it really is. But on the other side of that, I mean, all work and no play is a terrible thing. So outside of working hard, let's talk about some stuff that you like to do outside of work. Do you have hobbies? Do you have interests that you really are passionate about? Because we're all about passion here.
Chelsea: All about passion here. I'll just really lean into the nerd life that I like to live. I was super stoked when you asked me to be part of the Twitch Marvel recap. When we did Endgame, that was so much fun. All my friends were super jealous of it.
Jeff: Go find that on YouTube. It's still up there on YouTube.
Chelsea: I remember, I was telling my friends we were going to do it, and I had a Spider-Man T-shirt, which I will come clean, wasn't mine. It was my boyfriend's, and it was pretty big on me. I told him I was going to do it, and then right after he texted me, he's like, "Oh, you did great." I'm like, "You watched it live?" And he knows so much more than I do, and he's like, "Yeah, and these are the points that you missed." I'm like, "Damn it." So I love Marvel.
Jeff: Where does it come from?
Chelsea: My dad. My dad's a union carpenter, very much man of few words kind of dude. Loves sci-fi. Loves Star Trek. Loves all that good, good ... like, I'll come home and he's always watching Star Trek or Harry Potter.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Chelsea: Yeah. Long Island, Italian man who loves Star Trek. And I think that would always be on the background, so then I got into watching Doctor Who.
Jeff: Shout-out to Doctor Who.
Chelsea: Shout-out. I have a TARDIS mug, too. And I was going to bring it, and then I didn't think of that until right in. I was like, "Damn it."
Jeff: That's all right.
Chelsea: Next time. Yeah. We're a show about mugs. So, that love for shows that are ... Actually, it was really funny. [Kayden 00:15:38], our customer service guy, he sent a gift that he had a Doctor Who meme on it. I'm like, "Oh, that's Doctor Who." He's like, "Ah, what is that?" I was like, "Oh, no. Kayden."
Chelsea: It's a show that has a lot of heart to it and sends a good message, and then there's aliens, and then there's mystery. So just really, not necessarily complex things or ideas, that are just written so well, and that great power of storytelling. And then, also leaning to nerd life, I did a lot of theater in high school, and then I worked in ...
Chelsea: Yeah, so let's just really lay it on. And in college, I worked in a scene shop building sets, and I would do lighting design. I would hang the lights, focus them, and if there's a good story, that's what brings people together. So all of that kind of culminated into a love of Doctor Who and D&D, and theater and plays and stuff like that.
Jeff: Well, I mean, Doctor Who is one of those transcendental genres, because it is sci-fi, but it has so much heart and passion in the world, across the world, because it's been around since the '50s, the '60s?
Chelsea: Yeah. '58 I believe, yeah.
Jeff: And I mean, it's beloved by so many people, and it's still going, and it's always about story. It's not just about aliens and crazy magical beings and all this other stuff. And the actual question for any Doctor Who fans out there, the actual question that I have to ask you is, who's your doctor?
Chelsea: Oh. Oh, it's David Tennant.
Jeff: David Tennant. Number 10.
Chelsea: Yeah. No, that was the first one that I was like, "Oh, wow." Charming, obviously. And just good acting, like he's selling a story and just those human relationships and just, oh man. Such a phenomenal actor. I loved him in Jessica Jones, too.
Jeff: Yeah. He's one of my favorite actors.
Chelsea: Oh, really?
Jeff: Yeah, he really is. And one of the coolest things about David Tennant, it's one of those stories where, and I say this a lot on this show, I'm a big believer in, if you say something out into the universe, then it can make it real.
Jeff: It might not actually happen, but if you say something, if you say, "I want this to happen, or I want to be this, or I want this to happen," that's the seed that generates in the universe. Whether or not that path that you're going to take is going to make you get there, who knows?
Chelsea: Who knows?
Jeff: When David Tennant was a young boy, he was reading the Doctor Who books that were coming out, and loved the character. Watched Tom Baker, watched the older Doctor Whos. Actually wrote BBC and professed his love for Doctor Who and said one day he would love to be Doctor Who, and still has that letter. And it became real.
Jeff: He literally got cast as the Doctor, and is one of the most beloved of the modern generation of Doctor Who, of one of the Doctors. And I mean, what a career he's had, because not only did he get Doctor Who, but he was in Harry Potter and he was in Jessica Jones, and he's got ...
Chelsea: Fright Night.
Jeff: Fright Night, yeah.
Chelsea: And Good Omens, I just binged. That was fantastic.
Jeff: Good Omens, yeah.
Chelsea: And then, I remember when I was in high school, he was in the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Jeff: Yeah, they all are. If you're a British actor, you have to be in the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Chelsea: And he did Hamlet. I went to London then when he was performing, but we didn't get tickets for it, and I was so bummed. One day.
Jeff: One day, one day.
Chelsea: But yeah, podcasts are also a big thing.
Jeff: Well, back on the Marvel side.
Chelsea: Marvel side.
Jeff: How did you get into comic books? Did you pick up comics, or did you just like the movies?
Chelsea: Just the movies.
Jeff: Just the movies?
Chelsea: Yeah. I really haven't been too deep into the comic world. I mean, I read a lot of just those omnibuses of ... like, I read Watchmen. I read Persepolis. I read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I think that was the one that pulled me in, because I saw the movie with Sean Connery. I'm like, "This is so cool. Let me read more of it." So just reading those big ones where everything's together and I can get the whole story.
Jeff: The movie that made Sean Connery quit acting.
Chelsea: Stop it, right?
Jeff: Did you know that?
Chelsea: I never knew that.
Jeff: Yup. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which I enjoy that movie as well. It's not as good as the comic. I definitely read the comic, there's way more cool stuff in the comic. But yeah, after that he was like, "I'm so done." Well, he said it in a very thick Scottish accent, but he said, "I'm so done," and he hasn't acted since.
Chelsea: Oh. Well, that's heartbreaking now.
Jeff: Yeah, super heartbreaking.
Chelsea: Now I really [crosstalk 00:19:58] for that.
Jeff: Sorry. I'm super sorry.
Chelsea: No, it's quite all right. But yeah, there's no aha moment. Like I don't have 30 little tiny comic books.
Jeff: But you do enjoy the movies.
Chelsea: I do enjoy the movies.
Jeff: Favorite Marvel movie?
Chelsea: Oh, man.
Jeff: I know this answer.
Chelsea: Do you?
Jeff: I think I do.
Chelsea: Yeah, Spider-Man.
Jeff: Spider-Man. And we're actually recording this, this is actually going to come out after it's out, but we're recording this the day before Far from Home comes out.
Chelsea: So we'll do another Twitch and we'll discuss Far from Home.
Jeff: I am totally down. Are you down for that?
Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely.
Jeff: Okay. We're going to do a Twitch Far from Home recap.
Chelsea: I'll take better notes this time.
Jeff: I'm very excited about that, because I mean, I've said this before on this podcast. I've also said it on our Twitch stuff. Love or hate the Marvel universe, the DC universe, all that kind of stuff, I grew up in the '80s loving comic books and thinking one day, "Man, wouldn't it be great to see some of these heroes just become larger than life? But it'll probably never happen."
Jeff: And not only did it happen, it happened in a way that it will never happen again when we did our Endgame, we talked about it, how it literally was the culmination of 21 previous movies that all tied together into a giant movie. And we'll never experience that again. That's a Star Wars moment in pop culture.
Jeff: And it's incredible to ...
Chelsea: The planning that goes beyond stuff like that, what, 21 years?
Jeff: No, it was 11 years.
Chelsea: No, sorry. I'm like, no way.
Jeff: Because it was 2008 was Iron Man 1, and that's what kicked it all off.
Chelsea: That's what blows my mind, is like, okay, in 2008 ... Not even. In 2000, 2004. "Okay, we have this idea. It's going to take us 11 years, and this is how the story's going to go." To have that kind of forethought, that kind of planning, is wild.
Jeff: And it was all a gamble. I mean, let's nerd out for a second, but you've got-
Chelsea: Well, I mean, yeah. The rule of the nerds right now, you know?
Jeff: You've got a property like Doctor Who or Harry Potter. You know going into it, you're going to continue to make more of them. Doctor Who's never been canceled in 50 years. It's not going to get canceled tomorrow, you know what I mean? And Harry Potter, when they started making the movies of Harry Potter, they knew they're going to make the first one, and they're going to make all seven, which turned into eight. They're going to make them all, because they're going to tell that whole story.
Jeff: When they cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and said, "We're coming on as Iron Man," it was literally like, "We want to roll these dice and see if it actually works," because Marvel was not a valid production company at all.
Jeff: At all.
Chelsea: I didn't know that.
Jeff: That was their first deal, where they were like, "This is what we're going to produce." Robert Downey Jr., up until that point, was blackballed in Hollywood because he went to jail for drugs, and they got John Favreau to direct it, who is a good actor, but wasn't proven as a director at that point.
Chelsea: Yeah, which I really want to talk about Chef and more about John Favreau, and just his coolness. Well, I just want to talk about food, really.
Jeff: Yeah. We like food here at Death Wish Coffee.
Chelsea: We do like food. We have a whole cheesecake in the fridge right now.
Jeff: There is a whole cheesecake. But yeah, Favreau has proven himself as great behind the camera as also in front of the camera, and he did both on Chef, and that was incredible.
Chelsea: Amazing, right?
Jeff: Have you checked out the new Netflix series?
Chelsea: Yes, I've binged it.
Jeff: It's great, right?
Chelsea: It's so good. And then, I come from a very, very big family of eaters.
Jeff: Food has to be ... I mean, you are ... Spoilers, she's Italian.
Chelsea: Italian-Irish. Basically, my family came over, got to Long Island and was like, "All right, this is far enough. We'll stay here." So yeah, most of my family, Queens and Nassau County, Long Island.
Jeff: So food is big in your family.
Chelsea: Food is big. My mother was a chef my entire life. My grandmother sold bread at the flea market. My grandfather worked at a diner. My dad's side, they can't cook.
Jeff: Coming over from the old country, was it your grandmother and grandfather, or was it your great-grandmother and grandfather?
Chelsea: My grandfather was one of 14, and he was the first one born in America.
Jeff: So he was first generation in America?
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Chelsea: Yeah, and then my mother's mother, she was second gen. Her parents were also born here.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Chelsea: Yeah, so Sicilian-
Jeff: So they came over early, then.
Chelsea: Yeah, it got pretty recent. So I didn't grow up speaking Italian, which is something that I wish I did. Like, I lived in Italy. I was super lucky to live there for about five months, where my host mom spoke no English, and I spoke no Italian.
Jeff: Was that like, student exchange, or you did it with family?
Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, it was just study abroad. There was no exchanging one Chelsea for one Italian. They just got one Chelsea.
Jeff: We lost on this deal.
Chelsea: I mean, we really did. I don't know.
Jeff: Did you pick up a lot of Italian?
Chelsea: I did, and when I was there, I was speaking it every day and I was learning it and I had the ear for it. [Italian 00:24:38]
Jeff: So your Italian's not that good.
Chelsea: Yeah, I'm sorry.
Jeff: I got that.
Chelsea: You nailed it. That's about it. And my host mom, she couldn't say "Chelsea," because phonetically in Italian, "C-H" doesn't make the "ch" sound.
Jeff: Oh, right.
Chelsea: Yeah, so my middle name is May. I'm like, "Can you do May?" She goes, "No. I can't do that one either." I'm like, "All right, let's just go with Josephine. That's a pretty stereotypical ..."
Jeff: So you were Josephine?
Chelsea: Yeah, I picked a new name. I just straight-up picked a new name. "Just call me Josephine."
Jeff: I'm going to call you Josephine from now on.
Jeff: Oh, that's amazing.
Chelsea: And that was my grandmother's name. So I was just like, "I'll just go with that."
Jeff: Italy is a place I've always wanted to visit.
Chelsea: You should. We'll go there.
Jeff: I will visit someday in my life. What was one of the coolest things you got to do while you were out there?
Chelsea: I mean, eating.
Chelsea: That was it. Done and done, yeah.
Chelsea: No, it was so gorgeous. Honestly, like I said, food is big for me and culture is big, I think, from stories to food to comedy. Those are the three most important things to me. Those are things, what I'm passionate about. It's because they bring people together. It communicates. It mobilizes people, and I think we can see a trend here of the kind of person I am.
Chelsea: So the amount of food that I ate was spectacular and it was good, and it brought people together that we didn't have a shared language, but you can easily ... you know, "spaghetti." All right, yeah. [Italian 00:25:56]
Jeff: Spaghetti brings everybody together.
Chelsea: And I remember I had a roommate. What up, Katie [Confel 00:26:02] in California? Thank God, because she did speak a lot more Italian than I did. She was great, and she did have to work as translator for a lot of dinners, and she had family in northern Italy, and we took a train ride seven hours north to middle of ... No, actually, it was Genoa, where pesto is from. And we got there, and I don't know if you've ever seen The Princess Bride?
Jeff: Yeah. Quick story, literally my wife walked down the aisle to the theme song of Princess Bride at my wedding.
Chelsea: Oh, really?
Jeff: So I've kind of seen that movie.
Chelsea: You've kind of seen that movie. We took a seven-hour train ride up the coast of western Italy. Sunset. Gorgeous. Just this beautiful sunset, looking over the ocean. We get dropped off at a train station, middle of nowhere. Just like, you know, look to the right, look to the left.
Chelsea: And then this station wagon comes like, coming over the corner on two wheels, whipping in, parks, and the biggest man I've ever seen, like Andre the Giant, like the crazy hair, he comes out of the car. It's a tiny car, and he's a big man. And he just points at me and goes, "Casmirina?" I'm like, "Nope. That's your cousin. I'm Chelsea. You can call me Josephine."
Chelsea: And they didn't stop feeding us. And they spoke northern Italian, so I learned Dante's Italian, which is like proper Italian, and they spoke dialect. Oh, my God. I could not keep up with anything they were saying. I spoke kindergarten level Italian then.
Chelsea: So from the second we got there, they're like, "Here's Coca-Cola. Here's some hard candy. All right, now here's a bunch of rabbit and here's some spaghetti. Okay. Now we're going to get in the car and eat more ice cream." And I was just so full. No, Jeff, I was so full and it was so late and I was so tired, that we're walking around. They bought me this huge thing of ice cream, which was a small, but it was like that big.
Chelsea: And I started throwing it on the ground, and the woman totally saw. And I'm so sorry. You were beautiful and generous, and I just couldn't eat anymore. And then my host mom, same thing. Just, all the food. So much food, and we lived in a complex on the edge of a farm. It was a regular apartment and it's right when farm country began.
Chelsea: And I would wear a hoodie to dinner, because we would eat so much food that I would smuggle the food into my hoodie, go into my room, and then just be chucking oranges out the window because I couldn't eat it, but I couldn't tell her no because then she'd be super disappointed in me for not eating her delicious food.
Chelsea: And the woman above us had a dog. I think you can see where this story's going. And she would walk the little dog, and I just remember one time, he found a pile of food. I was just like, "I don't know how that fried chicken got there."
Jeff: Oh my gosh, that's funny.
Chelsea: And I got my roommate to do it once, because she felt too guilty. I'm like, "I can't do it, but I can't say no, because I'm spineless."
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, heck. It's Italian hospitality, and it's good food.
Chelsea: Oh my God, it's so good. I mean, I gained about 12 pounds when I was there.
Jeff: That is incredible.
Chelsea: But it was amazing. Yeah, basically you get a cheap bottle of vino, sit in the Piazza del Compo, which right now, it's at Siena, Italy. There's this cool thing called the Palio, which is a horse race that's been going on for over, I think like 275 years?
Jeff: It hasn't stopped in 275 years?
Chelsea: I'm not sure. Oh, shut up. They do it twice a summer, and it is crazy because it's a medieval city where they have a huge horse race, and everybody, they're mostly Catholic because they're Italian. You're baptized into the Catholic Church, and then you're baptized into what's known as your contrata, which is kind of like your team.
Chelsea: Yeah, and they have this horse race. They have the same rope that is the starting line and the same dirt that they've been using time and time again. They fill the Piazza and you're just shoulder-to-shoulder with all these people, and they do this crazy horse race. And I think they just did it over the weekend. I'm not sure who won.
Chelsea: We were Aquila, and I knew back then, we hadn't won in like, 23 years, 24 years? So, yeah. But it was so cool, and learning that culture, being part of that. Please, share my history, share my food, share my table. It's something that means so much that really does help bond people, so I loved it.
Jeff: Totally. That is so cool. No, that's really cool, and like I said, I really want to go there someday. I want to experience all of Europe, because I love being able to be immersed in a place that has such history, because it's few and far between in America. I have toured some Native American sites on the east coast and also on the west coast, but it's very hard to find a lot of that, because it's either been destroyed or it wasn't built up like medieval times in Europe and stuff like that. So it's really cool to be able to be there and experience that, and that's awesome.
Chelsea: I think that is, yeah.
Jeff: Bringing it all the way back to Death Wish, though. Your life seems like it's been filled with a lot of surprise.
Jeff: And I mean that in the nicest way. Like, you were building sets in theater, and then you were wanting to be lady Indiana Jones, and ... Let's just say Lara Croft, okay?
Chelsea: I'll take that, yeah. That sounds good.
Jeff: And then you're working as an assistant in politics, and now you're an executive assistant for a coffee company.
Chelsea: I know. My family doesn't understand it, either.
Jeff: I just think that you've taken a lot of surprising turns in the best way, because you are open to that journey in your life. What is something that has surprised you, working here at Death Wish?
Chelsea: I think honestly it is ... I mean, I don't know. Maybe I'm just reading into it too much, is the fact that there is such a ... We are not just a company that sells coffee. I think that is the most-
Jeff: Go get your Folgers somewhere else.
Chelsea: Go get your Folgers somewhere else. Sorry. I don't mind Folgers, actually.
Jeff: You know what I mean, yeah.
Jeff: We are not just a coffee company.
Chelsea: The fact that everything you said that kind of chronicles the life and times of Chelsea Battistelli, I feel like it could be applicable to Death Wish. Like, we may decide, "Okay, there's a theater that we want to work with. Let's give them coffee. Do you want to come behind stage, meet the actors?" You know, having parts of my own history, my own life experiences, could very well crop up here.
Chelsea: I worked for a nonprofit for over a year, which helped individuals with developmental disabilities, and working with that was so rewarding, and the amount of nonprofit work that we do now from K9 for Warriors, to American Veteran Archeological ...
Chelsea: There we go. Yeah, I mean I flipping found a screw from ... like yeah, last week, two weeks ago rather, we went to Saratoga Battlefield, and I found a nail from the Battle of Saratoga. I'm an executive director. I got to be Lara Craft, guys.
Jeff: This will be an upcoming episode on this very podcast. I got to talk to Dr. Humphreys all about that dig, and you're right. You're an executive assistant for the CEO of a coffee company, yet one day, you walk into work and you're literally going to the Saratoga Battlefield where the turning point of the Revolutionary War happened, and you dug up, with your bare hands, a nail that has not seen the light of day since probably 1777.
Jeff: That's crazy.
Chelsea: Yeah, that's crazy. That's crazy. So, that is just so surprising that I have those unique opportunities, and it is ... I mean, maybe not surprising, the more you learn about our culture. But the staff that we've built around us, the amount of interest and the amount of experience everyone has from learning Thomas's story, our art director, to learning about Justin Bailey, our safety coordinator leader, people who just bring so much to our company that is a coffee company. And the similarities, the shared experience, and learning from our staff has just been incredible.
Jeff: And I always encourage people, when you're listening or watching our episodes with our awesome employees, to go back and listen to all of the other ones as well. You just mentioned Thomas, that's episode 21, and Justin is episode 99. You can find them all on Fueled By Death Cast. That's why I live talking to our employees and getting everybody's story, because we are this ragtag bunch of weirdos that somehow ...
Chelsea: Have such unique skills that are somehow then great at selling coffee.
Jeff: And Mike always said, from the very get-go, that he wasn't looking to create the greatest coffee company in the world. He wanted to create the best coffee company in the world, and by doing that, he wanted to create a lifestyle brand. He didn't want to just create the coffee that's in your cup. He wanted to create the hat you wear on your head, the entertainment that you consume, the comradery you feel ...
Chelsea: I mean, yeah. When I'm driving down the road and I see ... I mean, I know we're close to the office. When I see a Death Wish sticker on someone's car, that blows my mind that I work for a company that people want to put that on their car. Like that's forever, a sticker, guys.
Jeff: I don't know if you've experienced this yet, but just in the last, I want to say two years, whenever I travel, if I'm wearing Death Wish Coffee gear in an airport ...
Chelsea: I'm waiting for that moment.
Jeff: You haven't had it happen yet?
Chelsea: Haven't had it yet.
Jeff: About 50% of the time, someone'll come up to me and be like, "Death Wish Coffee!" Or more often than not, it's somebody from the TSA, because they're the ones ... because we're usually either hooking them up, or they just know about us organically because so many of us go through their lines and stuff like that. And I'll constantly get stopped and be like, "Oh, Death Wish Coffee. Heard of you guys. I love your coffee." And that's really rad, you know?
Chelsea: Yeah. I love it.
Jeff: So that brings me to the theme of this show. And we've talked a lot about passion. We've talked a lot about your journey. What fuels you to keep doing what you do? What fuels you to keep wanting to come to work, to work for this company and to be the best Chelsea you can be?
Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, a lot of fuels me is the people around me. I definitely thrive off of, if we have a great vibe in the office, then we're going to get work done, and knowing that we're working towards a goal, what fuels me is teamwork. And that sounds flipping cliché, but ...
Jeff: But it's not, though.
Chelsea: If everyone's vibing, if everyone's kind of doing what they're doing, that's a great day. I am so lucky that I've had so many jobs and we barely scraped the surface there. I was saying to my one friend a few jobs ago, I'm like, "When am I going to find a job that I want to go to, that I want to wake up in the morning?" And I'm not trying to talk up Death Wish, but I finally found a position where I'm around a great team, I have a challenging day. I want to wake up and feel rewarded, and it's just so rare that people actually get that out of a job.
Jeff: It's so rare.
Chelsea: And I think a lot of that has to do with the people that we've built around here, so knowing that, fueled by my family, fueled by my friends, fueled by food, like delicious food, bringing people together, however that is, if it's through history, if it's through food, if it's through D&D, if it's through Marvel. That comradery, that's what like, "You know what? I'm getting out of bed today. I'm going to see what's going on in the world." I love that.
Jeff: I love it, I love it. And that's really inspiring. No, and it's not cliché. I mean, it is rare to have a job that you want to go to every morning, you know? I mean, before this job, and I've talked about this before, I was a cook for 11 years.
Chelsea: Was that your first job, a cook?
Jeff: No, my first job was scooping ice cream at a country music festival.
Chelsea: My first job was scooping ice cream.
Jeff: All right.
Jeff: But no, before Death Wish, I was a cook for 11 years, and it got to the point where I was punching a time clock and the minute I punched that clock, I was wishing for 5:00 to roll around. And I'm very lucky to be in this environment, and it is the environment that we've all created, because of that. It's really cool. And we all believe in this brand and this product as well.
Chelsea: Yes. And that is rare too, I feel like.
Jeff: It is very rare, which leads me to this question, where do you think we're headed?
Chelsea: Man, we've already conquered space. Like, we've conquered it.
Jeff: Space has been conquered.
Chelsea: What do you mean "headed"? Break it down for me.
Jeff: Okay, let me re-frame that question. We've done a lot. We've been to space. We've sponsored things like NASCAR and New York Comic Con. We've been to pretty much everywhere in this world at least somehow with our beans, somewhere. Is there a place that we haven't touched upon yet, that you think Death Wish would fit well into, or is there somewhere that you think we're headed towards, that we haven't actually made it there yet?
Chelsea: I mean, honestly that's something that I ask myself every day. Like, where are passionate people that we aren't? I don't have the answer to that.
Jeff: Do you think it's theater?
Chelsea: It could be. Potentially, it could be. Death Wish: The Musical.
Jeff: Death Wish: The Musical. I'll start writing it tomorrow.
Chelsea: I feel like it'd be just like, a straight play. Very macabre. But then there's ...
Jeff: One upbeat number. One just super danceable upbeat number.
Chelsea: But yeah, I mean, I honestly don't know. And it is something I truly do think about every day, because there's so much ... I mean, food is the obvious one. It is so great when we get people who incorporate our product into their cookies or their cakes or their ice cream, and they let us sample it. It is just like, "Damn, you guys are creating something great and this came from us."
Chelsea: Hopefully, I mean, more people to have an actual cultural experience with Death Wish. We're working on hopefully opening a café soon, so for more people, yeah, fingers crossed, to not just get that online experience of what Death Wish is, and what that culture is, but to actually physically be in that space, and have a cup of fresh coffee that then also you have a funny meme and you get to sit and chill and talk to like-minded, or not like-minded people.
Chelsea: And to provide that actual physical experience for people. That's where I think we're going. That's where I'd like to go. I know that's on the docket, as is a thousand other things.
Jeff: No, I think that's a great answer, because it is inherently where we are headed. We are, obviously, caffeinate the world. I talk about that all the time. We want to caffeinate the world with our coffee, but it all goes back to that lifestyle brand, and I see not only our entertainment, our stuff that we create here, memes, podcasts, whatever, being everywhere, but a physical thing that you can experience as Death Wish.
Jeff: And we've talked about a couple different ideas with this. You brought up food. One thing that we've been kicking around for the last couple years, that it will become a reality, is a cookbook. I know we will do it. It's just, we need help doing that.
Chelsea: I'll get my mom.
Jeff: And we're working on it. Yeah, we're working on that. The other thing is, a brick and mortar café. I'd love to see those all over the world, but we're going to start in our backyard, because if it fails, at least it'll fail in our backyard and then it'll be okay. It's easier to start small, and then ...
Chelsea: Yeah, and oversee that directly. Absolutely.
Jeff: Exactly. So hopefully that happens, and then another one that has been something that's been talked about in our community a lot, and I know is going to happen, but again, it's stuff that we need help with and planning and logistics and all that kind of stuff, is someday we're going to have a Death Wish con. We're going to have a Death Wish event. Just the amount off people that we have connected to ...
Chelsea: That's just it. It's wild. Wild. Because it is a range.
Jeff: It's Zakk Wylde.
Chelsea: God, all right. Good night, folks.
Jeff: But it's true, you know? I mean, the wide range of people that we're connected with, to bring all of that together in one central location. Use like a Bonnaroo for example, or a Coachella, or a South by Southwest or something, where yes, they all started out as a specific one thing, like let's say a music festival.
Jeff: And I'm not saying that we wouldn't throw a music festival, but they've all evolved into music and movies and TV, and comic books, and pop-up shops and skateboarding and clothing, and new technology. I mean, Google, last South by Southwest, unveiled new tech at South by Southwest, which is mind-blowing when you think about it, because that was literally just a grassroots music fest.
Chelsea: Music fest, yeah.
Jeff: I really see, someday in the future, like a Death Wish gathering will happen, and that will be the physicality of being able to experience what we are trying to bring to the world.
Chelsea: I can see that. I can definitely see that. Yeah, I hope so. I think like you're saying, we have all these different avenues that it could go down.
Jeff: Well, as Mike Brown's executive assistant, you need to start working on that.
Chelsea: Oh, okay. Put it on the list of things. Put it on the white board behind my head, that is just mostly scribbles. Mostly doodles.
Jeff: Oh, man. So, for our listeners and viewers, and if you don't, that's totally fine, but if they want to follow your journey and social media ... Do you use social media at all that you'd want ...
Chelsea: I don't really.
Jeff: You don't at all?
Jeff: That's fine then. Because the best way to follow you would be to follow Death Wish Coffee.
Chelsea: Follow Death Wish Coffee, yeah.
Jeff: Because you are a part of everything we do here, and you are such a valuable part of this team.
Chelsea: Thank you.
Jeff: And I'm really happy that Mike realized that he needs some help, and not only did he realize that he needed some help, but he went rogue and found you.
Chelsea: I'm happy about it every day too, and I love every challenge, and everyone here. And you guys stressed me the hell out, but ...
Jeff: We try, we try.
Chelsea: It's all good, yeah.
Jeff: At least you have coffee.
Chelsea: At least I have coffee, man. Yeah. Oh my God. Today Keith, our CFO, goes, "Chelsea, do you drink coffee?" I was like, "All right, Keith. We got to work on our team bonding."
Jeff: "Have you met me?"
Chelsea: "Have you met me?" Yeah. So, thanks, Jeff. Thanks so much for letting me be on the show.
Jeff: Yeah, thanks so much for being on the show. Awesome.
Chelsea: It was fun, yeah. Let's do it again real soon.