Saturday, April 22, 2017

How not to be "That Guy/Girl" in a Coffee Shop


DISCLAIMER: I own a coffee shop, but way before that, I used to hang out in Starbucks. Much of this is about what I've observed from good, well-intentioned people. This isn't written to hand-slap, just to help.

We're very much in the age of public meetings: business meeting, non-profit meetings, personal meetings--we're Americans and we meet ;-)

We meet in coffee shops and places like Panera more than ever before. And honestly, I love to meet in these kinds of places. It's good to get out, have food and drink options and run into people you know. But...

There are times when we're not doing this as well as we could. So as a patron and as a bistro owner, here are some well-intentioned tips:


  • Buy Something

Everyone who's in a seat in a business should have something purchased at that business. This is a pure and simple respect move. The owner (corporate or mom & pop) put that seat there specifically with the intent of generating revenue so that (most people miss this) that seat can continue to be there.
Oh, and don't bring a drink into Panera from Starbucks because you like their frappucino better; it's disrespectful. And it's not like you need to buy a bunch of stuff you don't want. There have been times when I simply ordered a drink I wasn't really in the mood for. Why? Think of it as the most inexpensive rent you'll ever pay for a nice meeting space.


  • It's a Cell Phone Not a Yell Phone

I get it. Sometimes we have to speak up when that call comes in. But, here's your script:
"Maude, please hold on just a second while I step outside."

When we speak up to take our business call, we turn the whole restaurant into our office and that's not cool. I've lost my religion so many times when I was startled in Starbucks by,
"OK, GREAT FRANK. THAT BURGHDORF DEAL IS KEY FOR US. GIVE ME THE LATEST RUNDOWN!"
I wanted to run his phone down his throat ;-) Again, this is a pure and simple respect move -- respecting others in a shared space.


  • Know When to Say Goodbye

Every eatery has peak business times, typically lunch and dinner. These are the times when the proprietor counts on filling and turning tables. This is usually when they generate 80% (or more) of their sales for the day. When you start to notice seats filling up, it's time to move on. Or...order lunch like a normal person and take a break.
As a coffee shop owner we welcome and love to have people hanging out individually or having meetings in our off-peak times, seriously--we love people hanging out--just not when it's lunch time when every seat counts. Have I mentioned this is all pure and simple a respect move?


We Love to Have People Hang Out ;-)


Again, places like our Main Street Cafe love, love, love having people hang out and meet in our place--it's part of our design and we love people! And the places I've mentioned in this post probably feel the same. On behalf of bistros everywhere, we just ask and remind you to be like Aretha: R-e-s-p-e-c-t ;-)



Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Absence of this Word is Eroding our Culture


I’ll never forget the first time I saw a bumper sticker on a car that read bitch.

What?! Why would that woman…?! She put that on her own car?!

I couldn’t understand why a woman would take a colossal slur and turn it into a trophy. And just so we’re clear, the only people who think the term bitch is positive are other women with the same bumper sticker. I’ll show you:

“Hey, why don’t you come over tonight? I’m grilling and I’ve got some new micro brews and a couple women from my office will be there; they’re real bitches.”

“Uh, no. No thanks, I think I’ll pass.”

Something started happening a few years ago. We started settling. We masked it in proclaiming that we’re tired of being politically correct. But somewhere along the way, instead of seeing opportunities to grow, instead of working on our temper and social skills, we decided to camp out on our less-than-positive traits and even proudly proclaimed them.

And it’s easy to see why: It’s easier to put a bitch sticker on one’s car than it is to learn how to turn a mean-spirited, volatile temper into something kinder and more respectful of others.

And bump stickers like My kid beat up your honor student are funny, but it’s easier to make excuses or defend our child than it is to walk with them through the quagmire of wise decisions, humility, work ethic, respect and the like.

When I was growing up through my teens and early twenties, I was so cocky, so full of myself, trying to compensate for an upbringing that wasn’t up to my snuff. I was full of pride and full of me, at the expense of you.

And somehow, mysteriously or spiritually or both, I began to see my arrogance as the character flaw that it was. And so I aspired to be a person who was more humble than arrogant.

The truth is, it would have been easier to put a Cocky SOB bumper sticker on my car. It would have been easier to settle into a lesser version of myself.

Listen, it’s always harder to aspire than it is to settle. (And for the record, it’s not like I’m arrogance-free at this point. It’s still an aspiration.)

I’m concerned that we are much less of an ASPIRE culture and much more of a Popeye culture: “I am what I am!”

The word ASPIRE is desperately missing from our culture.

History has been forged by people who aspired for better and many of those people shaped our lives. 

We don’t know any of the Popeye people by name. People who settled didn’t move themselves or anyone else forward.

But history is full of people who aspired. Our lives reap the benefit of people who aspired:

Joan of Arc, even though an illiterate peasant girl, aspired to make a difference beyond her station in life.

Beethoven aspired to compose music even through the challenge of deafness.

Nelson Mandela aspired to be a lawyer amid the South African apartheid system.

Rosa Parks aspired to do something as simple and profound as sit in the white part of a bus in the racial segregation of the deep south.

People pushing, grinding, aspiring for better, is what has made people and countries great.

And please get this: this happens at the micro level—this happens when arrogant guys like me aspire for something better. It happens when you decide to not be a Popeye person, “Well, I am what I am!

It happens when women take the energy and strength of their bitchiness and channel it into civility and lead and influence in ways that move things forward instead of just tearing people down.

So many times our character flaw is just the bad expression of a positive trait.

My positive trait is that I can take a hill, take people with me and help them grow in the process. 

The same fire that fuels that, is the same fire that can make me arrogant and pushy on a bad day or when I’m tired.

So, what about you?

In what area, in what way do you need to aspire to something more or something better?

Greatness happens when you and I aspire to be the best with whatever was given to us.
All of us have been given a toolbox of heredity, abilities, personality, natural wirings and physical capacity.

Given what you have and what’s going on in your neck of the world, what do you need to aspire to?

A marriage gets better, when I aspire for more and I get better.

A family gets better when a member aspires to bring more healthy interaction to the table.

A city gets better every time a person aspires to figure out how they can make even a small difference.

And a country gets better every time one of us aspires to maximize whatever’s been given to us in our toolbox.


So, tell me: What are your aspirations?