What do Eddie Vedder and Luciano Pavarotti have in common? Well, they both made it on to my credit card when I popped in to Starbucks today -- just for a cup of coffee mind you. This post is a little about music, a lot about the power of persuasion, and maybe a word or two about loneliness... (no, it isn't gonna' get sappy -- philosophical, maybe, but not sappy.)
I went in for a cupa' joe... I left with $36 worth of "stuff." Not 'cause I needed it... but because it "sounded good..." it felt right... it was there in front of me. I bought my coffee (to show that I had focus,) and I grabbed some trail mix (easily three times more expensive than the grocery store's bag o' nuts and berries) a bottle of Pellegrino, some "coffee mints" to hide the fact that I had just chugged their product, a CD by the dear departed tenor, and -- get this - an $11.99 rigid card that said Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild; a tasty technology morsel from our friends at Apple. It's an iTunes Digital Release card that allows the user to just enter the secret code into their Mac or PC and 7 minutes later have the Eddie Vedder experience. Oh yea... and it's a great opportunity for Apple to say "As long as you're on our site -- wouldn't you also like to buy (fill in the blank...)?
OK -- I'm enthralled by all of this... but I have a moral dilemma as well. The convenience is great, but I confess, it's getting easier and easier to live a life without people in it. Yes, there was a cashier at the Starbucks, but nice as she was, she was just following the script;
she: Thank you! can I get you a tasty scone or something else from our bakery display?
me: I've got $36 dollars worth of "stuff" here and I'm already fat...
she: (still smiling blankly) A scone?
me: No thanks. Do you have baked Alaska or escargot?
she: (same smile) That'll be $36.21
me: Do you take I.O.Us?
she: (taking my credit card and breaking eye contact) Next in line...
To the point (if there is one): Many of the folks at ADG are reading a book by Susan Scott called Fierce Conversations (ISBN: 0670031240). It's about talking. REALLY talking. It's a skill that I seem to lose more of year by year as I shoot more emails, send more IMs, text more messages, and yes... post more BLOGS. It's not that any of these are inherently bad -- quite the contrary, they're very good -- until they become a substitute for conversation. Honest, "hey I'm interested in what you have to say" kind of conversations.
Yes, ADG is in the business of "e" marketing, design, and learning... and yes, we want to attain recognition like Starbucks, and Apple, and so many others that have influenced entire markets... but we also want to be known as a firm that cares about people. Inside people (our employees) and outside people (our clients and partners.) As a matter of fact -- I don't want to think in terms of "inside and outside" -- but it's hard. I'm unlearning some crazy bad habits and trying to throw off the residue that still lingers from the dot.com days. Maybe you can help me... Somebody call and invite me to go out for coffee and challenge me to not talk about business. There's a time and place for that -- but there's also time for a good 'ol fashion fierce conversation.
I patiently await my invitation :-)