We've Gotta Have it
A Proper Reinvention Inspired by Davy Jones
Tech veteran Anita Williams Weinberg cofounded a tea company steeped in pop royalty
Anita Williams Weinberg’s reinvention mantra is “always keep an open mind.” It’s served her well, and explains why after 20 years of living in Starbucks’ backyard in Seattle, she decided the world needed more tea.
“I’ve never really been completely in love with coffee — I just find it really heavy and acidic!” she said.
So when she became friends with Annabel Jones, daughter of The Monkees’ Davy Jones and part of a family deeply tied to British tea culture, Weinberg found a new passion. After a while, when she was looking to start a new venture, tea was so much a part of her life — and something she loved — that it just made sense for her and Jones to build a business around it. Here, Weinberg talks about planning for your “someday” and why she thinks generational drama is a waste of time, and even gives Covey members a discount code to try her tea.
TheCovey: What was your reinvention path?
Anita Williams Weinberg: I’ve been in the tech industry for more than 25 years, coming into that space kind of accidentally when a friend recommended me for a marketing job with a computer magazine. I had degrees in both marketing and English lit — not your stereotypical tech nerd! It was a pretty broad educational background that really set me up to be able to land in any field though — whether software or teaware.
Unlike some, I’ve never really based my career decisions on milestones like “when the kids are finally in kindergarten/in college/out of the house, I’ll XYZ. . .” I even bought and ran a small business as a single mother with a toddler, and while still at Microsoft—some people would label that as crazy! That business — a dog daycare facility that I grew, relocated, and sold to an amazing woman — was a lot of fun, and a true small business bootcamp for me! I learned so much.
When Annabel and I joined forces to launch Jones Organic Tea, we’d been friends for years, and came from wildly different backgrounds. She was born in England and grew up in the Hampshire countryside, where her mother and sister still live. I was born in Southern California to middle-class parents who had relocated from Iowa. I’ve always been West coast–based, moving from San Diego to Seattle in the 1990s.
Tea really was the “glue” that kept Annabel’s family bonded over the years and over the miles, as her dad was always on the go. It was important to Davy to maintain English tea traditions when he moved to the US as a teenager. He devoted a significant amount of time to ferreting out the only two English grocers in New York back in the early ’60s in order to get the “proper” tea he required! And it was just as important to him to pass along the tea traditions to his four daughters — two raised in the US, and two raised in England.
TheCovey: What inspired you to make the jump into a new career?
Anita Williams Weinberg: I’ve done it to get away from things I knew I wasn’t enjoying, or because a volatile tech startup environment can mean that you have a job one day — and not the next. Sometimes I reinvented simply because I’d gotten bored.
When I left corporate work and started my tech marketing consultancy, VerbStudios, it was because I craved more control over the kind of work I was doing, and how, when, and with whom I worked.
In the case of starting up Jones Organic Tea, it was about thinking ahead. As I’ve moved down my career path, I’ve always had an eye on my future “someday:”
- Someday when I’m no longer interested in sitting at a desk all day — or I just plain can’t!
- Someday when I’m totally over competing with my industry peers on LinkedIn.
- Someday when my midlife eyes rebel against All. That. Screen time.
- Someday when I find that thing that combines something I enjoy with something I’m good at.
TheCovey: What have you learned about being a reinventor? Would you do it again?
Anita Williams Weinberg: I would totally do it again — and I probably will at some point!
A lot of people go from zero-to-doom in 8.2 seconds, without any concept of the complex journey that takes place in between. If you’re extremely risk-averse and it would truly make you miserable to weather the ups, downs, and surprises that come with reinvention, it’s just not for you.
A lot of it is being able to realistically determine how much of a risk you feel you can support. Figure that out and then proceed accordingly. Make a plan and start chipping away at it steadily. If you’ve gained ground gradually in this way, when it comes time to jump, you’ll be taking an informed risk, rather than acting on impulse.
TheCovey: What do you think has been the one secret to your success as a reinventor?
Anita Williams Weinberg: Always being open to new ways of achieving goals, and being willing to hear what people are saying, rather than just listening to their words. Big difference.
TheCovey: Can you give readers two unexpected tips for reinventing themselves like you did?
Anita Williams Weinberg: First, don’t insist on passion. I’ve always thought that the whole “follow your passion” thing could be very misleading — and has kept a lot of people from reinventing, frankly. Sometimes your reinvention idea isn’t something you’re passionate about; it can also just be something you’re just really insanely good at.
Second, ditch the millennial/X/Boomer drama. I see so much debate, argument, and mudslinging about the different work styles, priorities, and expectations of these three generations, and I’m calling BS on that. Everyone is unique, and not everybody fits the stereotype of their generational pigeonhole. For example, I was born in the ‘60s and Annabel was born in the ‘80s. We both have strong ideas and bring very different experiences and perceptions to the table, but we both listen to each other with an open mind — and that’s allowed us to come up with a really unique take on how we do business.
TheCovey: What would you warn others never to do?
Anita Williams Weinberg: Never get hung up on what you think you want. You’ll absolutely get in your own way and cut yourself off from being open to and able to recognize all the surprises and options that the universe may wave in front of you during your journey.
I think it’s much more important to get clear and firm upfront on what you don’t want, because that is usually something that comes from your core, and is less likely to change over time.
If you want to try Jones Organic Teas, Anita is offering CoveyClub members 10% off their next order. Just use code COVEYCLUB at checkout.