The Second Greatest Gift of All

From The Muppets:
“Walter:  You give people the greatest gift of all.
Kermit:  Children?
Walter:  No.
Kermit:  Ice Cream?
Walter:  No. Laughter. Laughter is the third greatest gift of all.”

I’m going to have to disagree with Kermit and promote ice cream to number one.

Mom ate a banana split daily while pregnant with me. I’ve been obsessed with ice cream since birth. Coincidence? (Probably!) My family visited our friendly neighborhood ice cream shops a lot when I was growing up. One time I had enjoyed my small vanilla cone with Crunch Coat so much that my Dad let me go in and get another one…good times!

My first job was pumping the cream at DQ (ooh, that sounds filthy!) when it was still called Dairy Queen. I also worked at Carvel and I still use a quart container I took from there as a pen holder on my desk at work, 18 years later.

I love ice cream is what I’m saying.

When Dave was still in Syracuse, I caught a glimpse of a certificate of completion for something called the “Ice Cream Short Course” at Penn State while waiting to order at our favorite ice cream shop. It planted a subliminal seed in my brain. In the 15 years since, I have looked into the course several times. But it’s serious: a seven-day course intended for people in the ice cream industry. I filed the course into my mental bucket list.

As you know if you’ve been visiting here awhile, I’ve been thinking about career fulfillment and I appreciate all the encouragement I received after posting about my job apathy last August. Since then I’ve been trying to listen harder for my elusive inner voice.

Last fall, while walking Chuck, I got this idea to throw an ice cream social. Then I thought, I should make all the ice cream for it myself. I brainstormed flavors, toppings, and accompaniments. Then I saw an ice cream shop in my mind…my ice cream shop.

I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head as if savoring a butter rum Life Saver ever since. When I allow myself to daydream about the fun stuff, waves of excitement pulse through me. I have some store names, a logo idea, and signature flavors to develop.

When I force myself to think about the less creative aspects of running a business or things I know nothing about, like developing a business plan and employing people, and things like having to work all the time, including nights and weekends, my brain shuts down. When I remember how close I might be to early retirement if I simply don’t rock the boat, and how my biggest complaint about my current job is how much of my time it eats up, a stomach-seizing anxiety sours the excitement.

I want more free time and I’m a raging introvert. Life as a small business owner in a service industry might be my craziest idea ever.

But I was getting ahead of myself. So I looked up the Ice Cream Short Course and found a newer, two-day “Ice Cream 101” that sounds more like my speed. Before I could talk myself out of it, I registered for the course, booked a hotel room and a flight. I’m going to Penn State this weekend to learn more about ice cream making and running a shop.

Wish me luck, as spending all of my precious weekend free time traveling and being around four dozen strangers (complete with “group luncheons” and a reception providing an “opportunity for networking,” shudder…) is a little out of my comfort zone. But I’m excited and I think this experience will be telling…will it leave me with any excitement for this idea?

At least I’ll come home having learned how to make better ice cream, no? And that’s at least the second greatest gift of all.

Actually, you can do one better than wishing me luck…do you have any tips for how I can not be completely drained by this weekend? Any networking tips for a serious introvert? Since “ice cream lovers, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners” were all “welcome and encouraged to attend,” it’s probably going to be a mix (ha, a little ice cream humor!) of people already in the field and people, like me, who have a job in a different field and no clue.

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24 Responses to “The Second Greatest Gift of All”

  1. Reagan
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Talk to just one person at a time. It’s way easier :).

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      Thanks! I actually did pretty OK (for me anyway). Met one woman in particular who was super nice. And I know I owe you an email. It’s been crazy with the travel to and from the class and not having a weekend. I haven’t forgotten!

  2. Tracy
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    That’s so exciting! I think it will be a lot easier to make small talk when everyone has a common interest – ice cream, and you seem to be pretty passionate about that topic. Potential ice breakers: Top 3 flavors, What’s your favorite brand?, How do you feel about savory ingredients in ice cream?( What’s with bacon ice cream, olive oil gelato, and strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice cream? Are those just popular in NYC?)

    What would you like about starting your own ice cream shop? Do you just love ice cream and want to be around it? In which case it might be easier to think about opening a franchise that has already done most of the difficult start up work for you. Or do you really want to be involved with developing new flavors, and making your own creations? Maybe you could talk a restaurant or cafe into selling small batches for you. I’ve been seeing a lot of small batch ice cream companies – they only sell 10 gallons of a flavor. Maybe that could be way of transitioning into it.

    Also, I was just reading about ecreamery.com started by a woman who wanted to make personalized ice cream. You can create and order any flavor (4 pints for $50).

    Oh man I want some ice cream.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

      Thanks Tracy! I read all of the tips here multiple times before the class. We have bacon ice cream here. I don’t get the savory myself, but then again I do have the palate of a 5-year old. If weird ice cream flavors are what the people want, I guess I won’t be giving them what they want.

      Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs? I’m guessing you are a “N?” Your second paragraph was full of more useful ideas to consider than I’ve come up with myself in several months of thinking about this. I’m a “S,” very detail oriented, not a big idea person. I think I need a business partner who is a N.

      • Tracy
        Friday, February 3, 2012 at 10:10 am #

        I don’t remember what letters I got from the Myers Briggs test, but I do remember it said I’d be a great nurse or farmer. At the time I was afraid of blood and dirt, so I think I just crumpled up the test and never gave it a second thought.

  3. speaker7
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m an introvert as well and dread such things as “group luncheons,” but you are in luck that you have something in common..ice cream. You can ask things like “what is the most unusual flavor of ice cream you can think of” “If you can only eat one flavor, what would it be?” “Do you scream for ice cream?” Feel free to use none of these.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      Thanks! As you said, it was easier to talk to these folks given the “we clearly have at least one thing in common” thing. I mostly talked to one woman in particular who was the closest to being in the same boat as me–feeling out the idea, but no real ice cream making/selling experience (there were people there who already owned ice cream businesses!). Ironically, she is currently in the same general field as me, so we could bitch (lovingly of course) about our current jobs.

  4. kaleba
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Congratulations! That’s so exciting. You’ll have a blast no doubt. And I hope one day you get your shop. Everyone could use more ice cream.

    I’m a recent convert to meditation. When I get overwhelmed I meditate no matter how briefly and it always gets me ready for that next encounter with the human race. You could try it.

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Ice cream certainly makes me happy, so why not bring the joy to others (and get paid to do it)?

      Are there are references to meditation you’d recommend? I’m wound so tight, I get this recommendation a lot, but I’m the type who like to have some instruction.

  5. curlygeek04
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    That sounds awesome! I’m excited for you and hope it lives up to expectations. I’m with you on the group luncheons and networking thing — I vote for deep breathing and frequent “alone” breaks. I find I can manage small groups much more than large groups and occasionally even enjoy myself. If not I sneak away with a book.

    Enjoy the class! I have a couple of books on small business ownership somewhere…

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      I might need the books on small business, since the course overwhelmed me but didn’t really talk me out of this idea.

      The weekend was exhausting, and there was really no down time. But the social aspects actually went better than I’d feared. But it’ll take me at least through this weekend to recover. I’m dead tired from losing my weekend and getting crappy sleep at the hotel (hotel was fine, I just have sleep issues).

  6. Katie
    Friday, January 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Congrats! This is an exciting step forward indeed. Good luck…and I agree, single out one person at a time to speak with. Or find a new buddy to latch on to!

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      Thanks, Katie! Luckily, I found a buddy. She wasn’t in my small group for lab activities (sounds funny to use lab in the context of ice cream), but she was my lunch and reception buddy.

  7. cinquecentoproject
    Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2:48 am #


    This is so exciting!!! I can’t wait to read all about it.

    I think the most powerful antidote for your introversion amidst the networking opportunity is (1) to keep tapping into the exciting feelings you have about ice cream. Focus on the 1 or 2 things that really make you feel like your inner voice is talking to you.

    (2) Don’t let yourself get too attached to anybody else’s story. You’ll hear success stories that are not the way you want to work it, you’ll hear failure stories of the idea that you thought was perfect, and you can’t let yourself empathize too much with either – because, after all, your journey is completely unique and all the factors will be different from you.

    (3) Instead of thinking of “networking” as this means to an end, think of it as a chance to try people on (like clothes, which I know is also torturous at times) – but don’t feel weird about just going, “Okay, I’m moving on, talk to you later!” Say that with a smile and move on to the next person you see/want to talk to.

    (4) Let yourself stand alone from time to time and see who approaches you.

    I can’t help making a list! Ack. Sorry – just want to be encouraging – hope some of those techniques come in handy for you!!!

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      Thanks, Jill! Don’t apologize for your list, I asked for it!!!

      And it was very helpful. I read it over several times during my layover in Philly and it helped calm me down.

      Everyone was pretty friendly and there was one really nice woman in particular who I bonded with (a Jill too!). It turned out we are in the same field and when we learned that, it was like, “oh I can see why you might want to sell ice cream instead!”

  8. margaretalmon
    Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    This is awesome!! I worked as a soda jerk in college at a drugstore, and then it was bought by a couple who had gone to the Penn State Ice Cream course, who made cool Indian flavors. I’m an introvert and I am in the business of selling my art, and you don’t need to know how that will go right now–I’ve grown into it, and yes it pushes my comfort zone, but it’s entirely possible to be an introverted business owner. Here’s my soda jerk board on Pinterest for your enjoyment! http://pinterest.com/margaretalmon/my-secret-life-as-a-soda-jerk/

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      Thanks, Margaret! Cool to know you too have a past in ice cream! Thanks for the vote of confidence on the introvert thing.

      It was a huge mistake to check out your Pinterest board right before bed, because I’m seriously craving ice cream right now! Also, I love Wayne Thiebaud (seriously, who can’t get behind a painter of desserts?)!

  9. idiosyncratic eye
    Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    That’s so exciting, well done for having to guts to book up and go for it! :)

  10. idiosyncratic eye
    Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    That’s so exciting and so brave to actually book up and go for it! Enjoy! :)

    • logyexpress
      Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      Thanks! I’m glad I went. I’m excited to try some new ideas for flavors.

  11. le chef
    Friday, February 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    I had to do that while in culinary school on far to many occasions (Interact). I had to pretend I was famous and act like it was part of the job. sometimes just getting out of your comfort zone will bring this out.
    The ice cream – love it. I’ve made it a few times, but would like to find better recipes. Try making it with skjør if you ever get the chance. If I could find it I would … because I’m too lazy to make it.
    Enjoy your trip!

    • logyexpress
      Monday, February 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks. I just ordered a new home machine (that doesn’t require keeping the bowl in the freezer). Now I’m off to go look up “skjør.”

  12. May
    Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Oh, my gosh! So you think you will do this thing? Awesome! As a fellow introvert I can certainly see how that can add to the challenge of launching a small business. On the other hand it can be a strength too. I am sure you have reflected and are not just impulsively jumping in for example. Soooooo……exciting. I am anxious to see what comes next. So glad the Penn State trip went so well.

    • logyexpress
      Monday, February 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks, May! I don’t know what’s going to happen. Every morning since the class I’ve woken up relieved not to own a store, only to be daydreaming about it again within 15 minutes of getting out of bed. The first step is to develop my recipe ideas. I’m going to make ice cream and share it with friends and see if I enjoy doing it and what people think.

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