Make Your Word as Good as Gold

The Souto Brothers sold their Miami-based coffee roasting company in 2011 for $360 million. They proved that honesty and hard work can create a strong return on investment.


HATTIE: So how do I do this at home?

JOSE ALBERTO: This is very simple. All you do is you pour water in the bottom part of the machine and then the filter, of course, goes on top. And then you fill it up with Pilon espresso.

HATTIE: Of course.

JOSE ALBERTO: You just screw it on, put it on top of the stove top, and in five minutes, you're going to have a delicious coffee--espresso coffee.

HATTIE: And it comes out of here, right?

JOSE ALBERTO: It comes out of here. And in five minutes, you're going to have a delicious cup of coffee. Espresso coffee.

HATTIE: Low tech.

JOSE ALBERTO: Low-tech, easy.

HATTIE: What could you say or tell people that you learned from your father that you're now using in business to make this an even more successful company than maybe he even dreamed? What did you learn from your father?

JOSE ALBERTO: Well, I'm going to say that the most important thing is honesty. I mean, this type of business it's--your word is very important. And when I say that is--for example, whenever I'm buying coffee, I might be calling, you know, some of the importers on the phone and I might be watching the market on the screen and say, 'Well, this is a good time to buy. Let's put an order to buy so many bags.' Your word is very important because it might take a few days, even sometimes weeks, before we actually get a contract on those coffees that we are buying. So the most important thing that I learned in this business is your word is critical.

HATTIE: Is everything.

JOSE ALBERTO: It's everything. And my father always told me that even if we do make a mistake when you buy, you bought it, that's it. Your word is so--I would say that's the most important thing.

JOSE ENRIQUE: My father, he's terrific. He's a man who, when he was in his 40s, came to a new country, did not speak the language yet he was able to go through a lot of work, a lot of hard work, didn't think about the past and he always had a very positive feeling about the future. The one thing that I feel is so important that I learned from him is his perseverance. I mean, I remember him in periods where things were tough -- you know, back in the late '60s -- middle '60s. The business was not growing. It didn't look like it was a very stable business. And as a matter of fact, some people might say this was a dying business because nobody knew what was going to happen in the next few years.

And my father always had the feeling and the idea that this was a great brand, that this was a great business that had a lot of potential, and that something great could be gotten out of it. And he was able to maintain that through the worst times. And, to me, that is something that very few people can do. And I hope that if I ever get into a position like that, I get it just a little closer to what he did. You know, just 10 percent of what he did. I'll be successful. Make sure that what you're going to get into, it's something that your heart and your mind is going to be into it. Because the first few years are going to be very difficult years. See, it doesn't make any difference what the business is. If you have that desire and -- then you'll develop -- even if you don't have it, you will develop the ability to go out and get it done.

This video serves as an illustration of honesty in "A Trustworthy Worker is Honest (Proverbs)" in Proverbs and Work at