This Motto Life

December 22, 2021

3 min read

What is Motto? 

Tom: Motto is the future of soda.

Henry: Motto is soda made from plants. 

 How did Motto come to be?

Tom: Motto started as an accident. Ten years ago I started drinking matcha green tea, for health. One day I forgot to drink my tea hot and a few hours later I found it, cold, on my kitchen counter. It was a cold day outside. I wasn’t even thinking of drinking cold matcha, but for some reason I got out a cocktail shaker, got some ice, poured in the matcha, added some seltzer, honey, lemon juice. I shook it up. Took a sip. I wish I could say that I heard angels singing, but all I really did was to drink every drop. And then I called Henry. Ever since we’ve been making Motto and working on recipes. 

Why did Motto come to be?

Tom: Motto started as a way to make matcha taste good. Let’s be honest: hot matcha is green chalk in a teacup. It’s an acquired taste. But when you take matcha and you mix it with just the right ingredients in just the right proportions and you serve it cold in a soda, it’s delicious. That’s why Motto came to be. 

Henry: We’re taking one of the world’s healthiest ingredients — whole green tea leaves stone-ground into a powder — and making it taste really good. 

What makes Motto different?

Tom: Our ingredients set us apart. No white sugar. No high-fructose corn syrup. Nothing artificial. And our insistence on quality. The tea leaves, the lemons, the honey — we trace every ingredient to its source and we won’t compromise on quality or flavor. Also, Motto isn’t just a gut-health drink or a sports drink or an energy drink. It’s a whole-plant drink that’s good for the whole day and for the whole body.    

Henry: Each day, people around the world drink 1.2 billion cans of conventional soda. Conventional soda isn’t good for you. That’s a fact. We think that if you’re going to drink a soda, you might as well drink a soda that helps you rather than hurts you. 

How did Motto get its name?

Tom: “Motto” sounds good. It’s easy to pronounce. Also, Motto is a soda you can live by and live with, so Motto is true to its name. 

Do you have a motto?

Tom: No. But if I did, it would probably be a quote attributed to Lao Tzu: “The way to do is to be.”

Henry: Not really. Nothing I’d tattoo on my forearm. I do like this line, though: “Only the serious is beautiful.”    

What are your backgrounds?

Tom: I’m trained as an architect. Went to the University of Virginia. For many years I was an architectural photographer. I still am, sometimes. But for the last ten years I’ve mainly been working on Motto. Motto is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done.

Henry: I grew up in Virginia. Went to Bates College in Maine, then to law school at the University of Maine. Founded Motto with Tom before I graduated from law school, so I haven’t practiced law. It’s been all Motto, all the time.


Tom: Cooking. I like to design things and make things with my hands. I build boats. I live in Nantucket. I spend most of my time on the water or near the water. 

Henry: I like to cook. Like to read. I try to play soccer three days a week but usually it’s two days. I live in Brooklyn. I wake up really early to play soccer.  

Desert-island food dish?

Henry: A dozen oysters and a wedge of lemon.

Desert-island book?

Tom: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. It takes place on a desert island.

Henry: Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. There’s a lot to it. It can sustain you.

Desert-island camera?

Tom: The one I’ve got with me.

What are you making for dinner tonight? 

Tom: Veggie tacos.

Henry: I don’t know. I’ll go to the grocery store and see what looks good.

What's playing at Motto headquarters these days?

Henry: Grateful Dead Europe ’72. And Beethoven piano sonatas. Does it sound pretentious to say Beethoven? 

What is your mission for Motto?

Tom: Build a business that thrives. Do right by our customers. Do right by our shareholders — they’ve invested money and time and passion in us.

What are your dreams for Motto?

Henry: We want to see Motto in every shop, store, cafe, and refrigerator in the country. We want everyone to drink it and love it and feel good. I also want Motto to help reduce diabetes, obesity, and heart disease worldwide.  

What are your dreams for yourself?

Tom:  To have fun. Work hard at something worth doing. Leave the world better than
I found it. Die old.

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