Small Coffee Shops Adopting The Fee-Based Business Model?

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Look around most coffee shops and you’ll see two types of customers. Let’s call them the Cuppa Coffees and the Cappuccinos.

The Cuppa Coffees are older and more likely to be male. They use terms like “tall” and “skinny” to describe their ideal secretary, not their coffee-based beverage. Even the term “coffee-based beverage” is alien to them. They drink coffee – and they’re lifers.

The Cappuccinos are younger and more likely to be female. Their favorite coffee-based beverages are more likely to be short stories with calories. They use terms like tall, grande, venti and skinny and are more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with caramel.

Lately I’ve noticed several small, individually-owned cafes try to increase their revenues by transforming the Cuppa Coffees into Cappuccinos. How are they going about this? By serving first-rate cappuccinos, world-class lattes and the kind of drip coffee one expects at a rural gas station. The message is loud and clear: if all you want to do is have a cup of filtered coffee you are not welcome here.

Starbucks – and larger coffee franchises generally – understand that most of the people who make the transition from filtered coffee to pumpkin spice latte have already done so. The small coffee shops I describe, on the other hand, seem to be adopting the fee-based business model of airlines: lowering the overall quality of their product in order to incentivize customers to pay fees (for carry-on bags, extra legroom, etc.)

Will it work? Leave your comments in the section below.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com or watch me perform my Unnatural Act.

Seek Growth, Not Change

Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 8.12.03 PMSpeakers too mediocre to talk about virtues talk about values; speakers too mediocre to talk about values talk about change.

Presentations about “obstacles to change” are nothing-burgers because “change” as such is neither good nor bad. Becoming a father constitutes change, so does infanticide. Being neither good nor bad, change as such is the seemingly-safe route for the speaker who lacks the courage or qualifications to talk about growth.

Obstacles to growth (be it personal, professional or organizational) is a legitimate topic because growth, unlike change, is a virtue. Speakers tend to avoid talking about growth, however, because it is verifiable, measurable and has an aroma of free-market competitiveness which the corporate world is desperate to avoid.

Change, conversely, has a patina of virtue which affords organizations the opportunity to engage in moral exhibitionism while avoiding a naked exploration of new ways to increase marketshare.

Do you have thoughts about change? Leave them in the comment section below.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com or learn more about my corporate presentation here.

The Bureaucratic Mindset

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It’s a long boring story but the upshot is my itinerary had me flying, in one day, from Bismarck, North Dakota to Denver to Phoenix to Los Angeles and back to Denver. That’s right: four flights between Bismarck and Denver with a layover in… Denver.

None of this was anybody’s fault but simply a result of separate reservations made to accommodate a changing schedule.

Checking-in at Bismarck Municipal airport, I explained to the United representative that since Denver was my “final destination” that I would only be taking the first flight, thank you very much, and that she should therefore only check my bag to Denver and not to LAX, which would have required me to collect my bag and re-check them to Denver (owing to separate reservations).

“You’ll lose your return flight” she explained. She said it in such a way that suggested less full-disclosure than “I’m not sure I can do that”.

My instinct was confirmed when, after gamely poking at a couple of computer keys for a couple seconds, she summarily informed me that it couldn’t be done. Before I could explain to her (in a way that would keep her dignity intact) that it could, in fact, be done, another United representative who overheard our exchange took up my cause. “Just go to bag management”, she said, pointing to a key on her computer.

Not surprisingly, the first representative’s can’t-do attitude remained unfazed. She implied that it could, in fact, be done, but that it would be “illegal” for her to do so. (For this I gave a small prayer of thanks that anything so hilarious could be uttered in Bismarck, North Dakota).

It become immediately clear that I was dealing with one of those bureaucratic souls whose can’t-do attitude blinded her to what should have been obvious.

Happily, uncharacteristically, competence reigned as the other representative took over while the Fearful One looked on with the resentment those who can’t have toward those who do. She was advertising her own refusal to learn anything from this experience – and the self-loathing that accompanies such refusal.

Within two minutes I was headed toward security with ticket in hand.

Whenever I encounter someone with the bureaucratic mindset I am reminded of a line – I think it’s Hannah Arendt’s description of Adolf Eichmann – that “He was less concerned with what pushing the button meant than with pushing it well”.

I arrived safely in Denver and my bag did the same only a few minutes later and the sun has since continued to set in the west and rise in the east.

Do you have experiences with the bureaucratic mindset and a can’t-do attitude? Share them in the comment section below.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com

Against Corporate-Speak

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Some time ago Forbes published an article titled The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon. Its premise is, in the words of management professor Jennifer Chatman at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, that “Jargon masks real meaning.” No kidding!

It also serves to as a barrier to entry. In other words, business jargon is a “Win-Win” (a phrase which should only be used when the Yankees lose a double header).

Here, then, is a short talk – ahem – presentation –  designed to, among other things, help you fail your way success.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here. I want to thank you for reaching out to me. I’m very happy to connect with you. 

It is my intention this afternoon to incentivize you and your organization to take things to the next level. Think of the ideas I discuss with you today as a kind of 5-Hour Synergy for any corporate culture which dares to employ them. 

I know first-hand the efficacy of these ideas as I have employed them throughout my career and in my personal life. It is my hope that by opening my kimono that I’ll be able to increase your learnings

This talk is more than just about best practices. It’s about how to think outside the box in order to get leverage. Then, how to leverage that leverage. More importantly, it will teach you to empower others and, more importantly, empower yourself. Your authentic self, of course.

These solutions are as scalable as they are actionable. They will challenge your corporate values which, in any event, are much more fun to talk about than corporate virtues, if any. 

And while I hope that you employ these principles to maximize effectiveness, make no mistake: failure is always a possibility. But don’t fear failure. It is a key component on the path to success. In fact, failure is a form of success. I’ll go further: failure is an end in an of itself.

It can be painful to work hard on a mission-critical project only in the end to be forced to take it offline, but by doing so you reveal core competencies. And your peripheral competencies. And for that matter, your core mediocrities as well. 

If you have any questions there will be some wriggle room at the end of my presentation to take your questions. Remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question, so long as it is sincere. If something doesn’t make sense to you, by all means, let’s talk that. And if you would like to share your own ideas I hope you don’t hesitate loop us all in

So let’s get started, as cutting into the next presenter’s time is plain-bad optics

What are your least-favorite examples of corporate-speak? Leave them in the comment section below.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com.

Work-Related Stress vs. Stress-Related Work

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When you work for yourself, the stress of having too much to do is qualitatively different than the stress of having too little. If you work for yourself, chances are it’s work you love and “busy season” just means you have that much more wind to your back.

It’s harder to do, though, when your job consists of finding your next job.

Sometimes it helpful to distinguish between stress that results from too much work – a sign that others find your work very useful – and stress that results from too little work – a sign that you have more work to do.

The former can be a burden, it is also a blessing.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com or watch me attempt the impossible.

“May I Help The Next Customer?”

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I begin most transactions with people in the customer service industry with “Hi, how are you?” It’s a pleasantry that takes only a moment. Sometimes the service rep gets this look on her face like a deer caught in headlights. It becomes immediately obvious that nothing in her experience taught her to be prepared for it.

And why should she be prepared for it, given the signal she sends by initiating our interaction with “May I help the next customer?” Oh what a joy it is to be referred to as “The next customer”. That’s how I think of myself: the next customer. Sure, it’s four more syllables than “May I help you?” but it’s worth it, given that it sends the unmistakable message that our transaction will lack the tiniest trace of authenticity or humanity.

Frankly the DMV’s greeting of “Customer 372” is more personal. After all, everybody is at one time or another “The next customer”. But only I am customer 372.

Do you have customer service grievances? Share them in the comment section below.

Return to daviDDeeble.com.

Airport Security vs. Being Admitted Into Prison: A Comparison

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Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two categories of things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding up their pants with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Upon reflection, that last part doesn’t sound plausible enough to deem reliable memory. But you get the idea.

Air travel stopped being something to dress up for more than a generation ago. Tank tops, shorts, fish with slacks are now commonplace.

The airlines have contributed greatly to the deterioration of their product, as evidenced by U.S. Airways commitment to protecting the rights of men to wear nothing but lingerie on the plane.

 

C'mon.

C’mon.

Just because the culture made air travel more difficult to enjoy doesn’t mean the government had to ensure it could never be so.

An example. Last week while flying out of LAX they tried to confiscate my hair gel because I had six ounces of it in my carry-on bag. (I didn’t let them take it – I just put it in my hair where, apparently, it’s legal.)

Contrast this with the much more sensible protocols in Europe (where I lived and flew around for five years) where “Guilty until proven innocent” is not policy. And yet they get the job done better than our punchline TSA.

This reflexive risk-aversion is evident everywhere, from the flimsy plastic forks which are no match for the partially-frozen lasagna to to the peanut bags which warn us that “These peanuts were processed in a facility that produces nuts.”

The overall effect on passengers is a chilling one. Contrast how exciting it once was to board an airplane to how silent and… funereal it is now. Recently I was boarding a plane in Burbank when I politely asked the gentleman in the seat behind me if he would mind swapping seats with me so that his wife and I could sit together.

Like I said – no sense of humor.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com

Simplicity

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One of the ancient Greek philosophers advises keeping your principles few and simple so that you may refer to them quickly in an emergency. This advice was very useful to me when I lost the coordination in my right arm after a head injury. One moment I could juggle five balls behind my back. The next? I’m unable to juggle even two with my right hand without getting big laughs.

But just as rain falls on both the righteous and the wicked, I also had my share of good luck. Good luck to grow up down the street from the Long Beach Mystics clubhouse, for example. Ostensibly a place for magicians to help each other hone their craft, the principles I learned are applicable to all the performing arts.

It was really about KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Beginning at around age 8, being in the Mystics inculcated in me the importance of presentation. I learned that those things performed on the stage which most move audiences are ultimately those things which move people in every day life: Generosity. Mastery. Spontaneity.

Most of us are not fortunate to have grown up surrounded by such practical wisdom in the performing arts. But the truth is, most aspiring performers have more to unlearn than to learn. Simplify. Ask yourself: Am I rambling? Is there a more-straightforward way to present this idea or ask for this raise? Is this joke too wordy? Am I beating around the bush?

The other advantage of keeping things simple is that it’s fun. Of course it can be taken too far and one should guard against doing so. Just as a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, sometimes  a painting or sculpture is complete.

Similarly, making something more complex has its allures and naturally is often appropriate. But it’s accompanied by the nagging sensation that you should be streamlining rather than adding, chances are that nagging sensation is right.

Eyes On The Prize vs. Bracing For Impact

You know the brace-for-impact posture. You’re driving on a two-way highway at night with a high-profile vehicle barreling toward you. Are you keeping your eyes on your lane? Or do you succumb to the inexplicable urge to look into the oncoming headlights? If so, you’d better hope the vehicle coming the other way isn’t doing the same thing, thereby greatly increasing the chance of a deadly collision. If the pair of eyes keep their eyes on their respective lanes, the sailing is far more likely to be smooth.

So keep your eyes on the prize in everything you do.

When I first got married I used to feel overwhelmed over the number of women around whom I had to “be careful”. How much more nature it feels to simply focus on my wife.Another example is the survey done of WWII pilots who made emergency landings and lived to talk about them. The pilots were asked, among other things, what they were focused on as they made their life-in-the-balance approach. Pilots who executed poor emergency landings tended to answer many different things: trees, water, power line cables. In other words, they were focused on things they were trying to avoid. The pilots who executed well were all focused on the one and same thing: the landing area.

How many times have you seen an NFL running back run toward his own end zone in order to avoid a tackle only to be tackled for a 7-yard loss? Sometimes all you have to do is run forward until something stops you. Prenups are another example. What better way to prepare for a lasting marriage than by simultaneously preparing for divorce?

Thoughts? Comments? Leave them in the section below.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com or view my latest YouTube playlist, The Magic Castle Sessions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mills Of The Gods Grind Slowly, If Ever So Fine

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Imagine for a moment that you are the best in the world at what you do. So good, in fact, that employers don’t choose you, you choose them. After several years with a particular company (in which you brought it unprecedented success), you decide to leave the company in order to test opportunities elsewhere.

Then something unexpected happens: your boss publishes on the company website an angry, highly-personal letter condemning your decision, the manner in which you made it, and you personally. (You are called, among other things, a “former hero”).

Six years pass. Your former boss becomes aware that you are again seeking to bring your unparalleled expertise elsewhere and, despite the anger expressed in the letter (which inscrutably remains on the company website), passions have since cooled and – perhaps more importantly –  your former boss is keen on retaining your services once again.

Then another ten days pass before the letter is finally taken down from the company’s website.

What would you think of your former boss? Would you be inclined to return to your former employer? Even after the letter is taken down? Despite the blatantly cynical (if incredibly tardy) reason it was taken down?

More to the point: does your boss think you’re some kind of primitive to fail to see through your ploy?

Welcome to the world of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and his former-employee, LeBron James.

On June 25 of this year, LeBron James declared free agency (from the Miami Heat). On July 7 – six years after publishing the letter and ten days after LeBron again declared free-agency, Gilbert began to see the importance of taking down the angry, resentful, highly-personal letter. 

If you were in LeBron’s powerful position, would you inclined to return to your former employer? Do Dan Gilbert’s actions exhibit the qualities one seeks in a franchise owner such as prudence, maturity and foresight? (Note that Gilbert has made no apology for the letter).

It just goes to show you that being highly successful doesn’t mean you know a damn thing about the internet, social media or public relations, let alone screen-capture technology. More importantly, being successful doesn’t mean you understand that what goes around comes around.

It’s said that the mills of the gods grind slowly, but ever so fine. It’s a lesson Dan Gilbert will soon learn when LeBron chooses his next employer.

Return to www.daviDDeeble.com