Hi Boba Guys and Gals,
A lot of you asked about how we’re addressing the election both internally and externally, so below is an internal email that we sent our team which outlines our plans. For the public, you’ll see us participate by giving out our own version of “I Voted” pins. We know it’s not for everyone, but we hope you understand where we’re coming from.
Thank you all so much for the support. We hope we can all figure out a way to work together and reconcile our differences (over a cup of boba). ;)
Progress, not perfection.
-Andrew & Bin
*mic tap* Is this thing on?
Great seeing all of you, especially NY and LA in the last week. As noted in our talks, here's the big email...
The Election and What We're Doing
We want to update you all on what we’re doing as a company for the upcoming midterm election. For background, we encourage you all to read this post from two years ago. It captures our overarching sentiment about our involvement with society and still rings true today. That being said, we recognize that our world fundamentally changed since that post.
At Boba Guys, we are active participants in the community. We won’t always make the right or popular call, but we also do not sit on the sidelines. For this upcoming November election, we are doing two things:
Every team member that votes will receive an hour’s worth of compensation in the new pay period. We’ve heard of companies compensating their employees for things like volunteering, but few do it for voting. We hope people follow our lead. We want you all to know how important this is for our company and society. Civic engagement is bridging cultures in action.
Every guest that comes into our store on Election Day (Nov 6th) and shows proof that they voted (usually an “I Voted” sticker) will receive one of our limited-edition buttons.
Note: We know that not everyone on our team (or even in the public) can vote. We’re sorry. We can’t do anything about that, but we hope that you can support us in building a culture of participation which is just as important as participating itself.
Okay. That’s the easy part. The hard part is about to come…
Progress, Not Perfection
You’ll notice that the free buttons we’re creating contain a phrase, “Progress, not perfection.” I want you all to understand why we chose to use this phrase. And let it be known, I completely stole this from my Soul Cycle instructor who uses it in her classes.
Our mission is to bridge cultures and our default mode of engagement is through civil discourse. We want to extra clear that it is not the only way to engage in what’s going on, but it is the style that most aligns with our values. Like for our drinks, if someone doesn’t like boba, we don’t put them on the defensive and say, “How dare you say you don’t like squishy balls in your mouth?”
What We are Trying to Do
If it isn’t obvious by now, we are in the process of building an ecosystem of empathy, grace, and positivity. You can tell by the brands and people we associate with. We believe our approach is the only way we break down this viscous cycle of distrust and cynicism. No one wins when we shame or disgrace the other side. No one.
That is why “progress, not perfection” best reflects our approach to civic duty. If you’re wondering why we even went to this level of specificity, it’s simple: we have a platform, especially with the youth (and young at heart!).
Over the years, we’ve covered a variety of topics— straw ban, local manufacturing, #MeToo, and even immigration with all our work in the government. It's even led to some of you on the team and the public demanding action when we stay silent. That’s fair. We own that.
So we’ll try to live up to our reputation. It helps that we have over 2,000,000 unique people that pass through our doors every year. It’s also why those Flavorbooks are so important as people learn our values while they wait in our long ass lines. Thanks for pushing us to stay on top of our values, so please understand “Progress, not perfection” is our attempt to embed those values in our ecosystem.
What "Progress, Not Perfection" Means
I recently came across this amazing study that talks about the polarization of our country. I put it here on Dropbox so you can all read it. On a high level, it segments our political climate into seven factions or “tribes.”
I’m not going to steer any of you toward a specific “tribe” as stated in the study. Most of you know where we fall in the tribes based on the posts and interviews. We’ve been pretty vocal while being in the public eye, so we’ll leave it at that.
The goal is to implore you, our team, to understand that there is a big, big world around you—and we need to empathize where others who disagree with you are coming from. It starts with empathy. Empathy creates reconciliation. And reconciliation ultimately leads to a more stable equilibrium. This formula is the basis of our upcoming book. It’s the key to bridging cultures.
In most cases, progress doesn’t look like what we all imagined it to be. It rarely does. But we’ll bring it back to what we know: making boba milk tea.
If we got defensive and snapped back at every competitor, vendor, or troll that threw shade at us, we’d still be in this death spiral. In the early days, we did a lot things wrong like using slow processes, bad vendors, or poor training procedures. Some of you recall that we even received hatemail and personal attacks. But you and the public were all gracious enough to look beyond our flaws. And right now, we still have a lot of things to work on, but you’re still here. You believe it’s about progress, not perfection. That's how it's supposed to work.
So Now What?
"Progress, Not Perfection" is the mindset we want you and the public to adopt more of. Based on the study, we know that up to 20% of you might still be on the extreme ends and vehemently disagree with our approach. That’s fine. We ask that you engage in dialogue instead of stonewalling. Otherwise, you’ll only be working for and associating with a very, very small segment of society.
Some might think we’re too centrist or diplomatic, when we tend to avoid being too extreme or polarizing. It’s okay. Let’s figure it out how to coexist together.
Lastly, I'm writing this because the fans and guests will ask why and how we're getting involved. You're all on the front lines, so you'll need to explain it on our behalf. Your roommates and significant others might also wonder why we went the extra mile and decided to put a tagline on our election support. It all comes back to bridging cultures. We don't mind taking the heat-- progress, not perfection.
Have a nice day and a pleasant tomorrow.
Andrew & Bin