What $150.69 will get you at Starbucks

It seemed like an unsuspecting morning at the Starbucks at my office. I was greeted in the early morning by our regular barista, Val. We exchanged a little bit if chit chat and then I asked her the question. No, not “the” question, just a question if she was willing to help me out with an experiment; a view into human reaction and interaction. Thankfully, she said yes.


So that brings me to this experiment I’m dubbing “Starbucks Pay It Forward” or SPIF (not to be confused with a sales promotion incentive fund). Let me begin with a little history. About three years ago I was going through the drive through at a Kelowna Starbucks location. When it was my turn to pay, the barista smiled and said it had already been taken care of. I was beside myself. Who would do such a thing? And then, almost like it smacked me in the head, I turned back to her and said I would pay for the person behind me in line. I have no clue if the person behind me paid for the next person or not and honestly I don’t care. Every now and then it’s simply nice to get something for nothing. And today, on February 2, 2011 just happened to be one of those days.

Around 8:00 I walked up to the counter and handed over a pre-paid Starbucks Card – registered of course to ensure I get the extra benefits – and took a seat nearby to watch the reactions and activity unfold. The entire staff already knew what was going on. Apparently Val had explained it in advance to ensure it was as smooth a process as possible.


“people were shocked so much they didn’t even say thank you”

In the first few minutes I managed to catch a few reactions. Most people, had none, but some appeared to be shocked. I couldn’t sit around forever, so headed back up to my desk to get to work. About 45 minutes later I logged in to my Starbucks account to view the balance of the card – and it was $0.

I headed back downstairs to claim the empty card and some reactions. Apparently it didn’t even take 20 minutes to use up the entire card balance. Speaking with Adrian, the guy who essentially manages the location, he said it went quick and that most people were surprised. “A lot of people were shocked so much they didn’t even say thank you,” he told me. “But everyone seemed grateful.”


The interesting thing is that I can easily estimate the crazy amount of revenue this Starbucks location does. As the amount on the card was $150.69 – the $0.69 was left over from previous transactions. Based on the fact it took 20 minutes to rip through the funds and the location is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm I would conservatively estimate they do $4000 in revenue a day ($1M based on 250 days a year). I had to reduce it a little because it was clearly a peak time for coffee goers.


Most people are grateful when they get something for nothing, but overall just don’t know how to show it. Remember sometimes that a “thank you” can go a long way to the person on the other side of the counter. These people are serving us, the consumer and more often than not, help to add a certain level of pleasure to your day. Be nice to them.

I did this experiment without the need or hope of recognition, I honestly did. If you happened to receive one of these free drinks, there’s no need to thank me or anyone else – I simply hope you enjoyed it. The SPIF was an experiment in social behaviors that I felt like doing funded by my Calgary Web Design & Marketing company. If you feel like thanking me, check out my stuff and like the Facebook Group for it.

With or without money you can have a positive effect on others around you. Even as simple as holding open a door. Be sure to recognize those who help you or give you a hand, even with a simple thank you. Now I’m curious to know, how will you pay it forward today?

Thanks to Carla from Carla’s Funky Art for the awesome Starbucks picture.

1 Comment | Filed under Life

Why I shouldn’t win Shoemoney’s contest

A few days ago this guy known as Shoemoney sent an email to his reader list giving them advance notice he’d be running a Crazy Affiliate Summit West Contest again. It was a heads up on an amazing opportunity (so yeah, subscribe to his email already). Since then I’ve been giving it some thought about how I would approach it. I chatted with my good buddy Lyndon Reid (he’s the guy who won it last year) about some ideas and to see if he thought I should. He told me to go for it. I’ve also determined the 2011 will be the year of actually doing things.

Well here I am, at the 11th hour (technically it’s only 10:00 pm where I am) and I’ve got to get a post up and in. I was really hoping to submit just a blank page but thought I needed some more originality. So I give to you the reasons why I shouldn’t win.

1) I might not get the time off from work. It’s true that the day job still pays my bills, so I will have to clear it with them first. If I can’t get the time off though, I’m sure that Lyndon would be happy to go in my place. I’ve got some connections to some cheap airfare.

2) I joined the Shoemoney System early on (yes, that’s an affiliate link – do you think I’m dumb). I haven’t really done much with it, but it has definitely made me think. And yes Jeremy, I have watched the videos and done some activities but it was the version 1.0. I’d suggest the 2.0 version is likely better.

3) I’ve met, though briefly, the likes of Jeremy Schoemaker, DK and other brilliant internet marketing minds. I’d love to get a chance to sit and actually chat with them.

4) I won’t be like everyone else and ask everyone “how they did it?” This thing called Google; you might have heard of it? Well, that will tell me how they’ve done it. So Jeremy if you’re looking for someone to just ask you to repeat everything else you’ve always said, then it’s not me.

5) I enjoy playing Blackjack. It’s true. I even tried to do a really bad affiliate site about Winning Blackjack Strategies that I’ve made nothing off of. I have made some coin from the Adobe Creative Suite 5 though using some AdSense. I’m sure I could’ve made at least 10x as much had I looked to Facebook Ads.

So that’s it in a nutshell. The time has come where I need to post this. Hopefully I make it through round one and will have a chance to post some more. Maybe I can even convince Lyndon to have Mama Reid shotgun another beer; now wouldn’t that be cool!

Here’s the video from last year that will no doubt be better this year, I just won’t be able to rock the suit jackets as nicely.

No Comments | Filed under Affiliate Marketing

How do I add a website to Google Analytics that has urchin code tracking?

Today I was making some changes for a client to an outdated website that I created for them back in 2003. Actually this one was likely a 2005 incarnation considering all the Flash that was involved in it and the design style I used to have. I came across some good, old fashioned Google Analytics Urchin code.

You know the old school stuff when they first acquired Urchin Tracker. Here’s the code snippet:

<script src="http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js" type="text/javascript">
<script type="text/javascript">// < ![CDATA[
_uacct = "UA-XXXXX-2";
// ]]></script>

Where the XXXXX is actually my account number. Now here’s the problem. I still use that account number for a number of sites, but the domain in question isn’t showing in my list of sites. I’d be happy to upgrade the outdated urchin.js code to the new Google Analytics code.

<script type="text/javascript">// < ![CDATA[
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-2']);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
// ]]></script>

My concern though is that I would like to have access to the historical data. I’m sure that it’s still recording it somewhere. When I decide to add the site it creates a new id for the site (i.e. instead of -2 it’s -45).

So my question I guess is this:

How do I add a website to Google Analytics that has urchin code tracking?

Hopefully some geniuses that are attending PubCon this week in Las Vegas will be able to help me out with an answer.

1 Comment | Filed under Code Development, Internet

Banana Toblerone Pancakes

It’s no doubt that you already know I’m a fan of Toblerone after reading about my Toblerone Americano. Another breakfast favorite that we have in the house is Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes. In fact some of us in the house love them so much that we decided to make them for dinner tonight.

The only issue was that we ran out of chocolate chips last weekend — all of the kinds we had. When making chocolate chip pancakes typically using the mini-chipits works best so you don’t end up with a mouthful of just chocolate; not that it would be a bad thing. I went digging in the pantry and came across some Toblerone still to use up before the next holiday season. That’s when the light went on and I decided it made sense to substitute Toblerone for chocolate chips.

Much like the Toblerone Americano, making the Banana Toblerone Pancakes, though they should like be called Toblerone Banana Pancakes as there’s clearly more Toblerone than Banana, begins with preparing the Toblerone.

  1. Cut the Toblerone into small chunks. Toblerone is really good at melting so I was confident that it would work.
  2. Preheat the griddle to 350F. If you’re going to spray Pam or any sort of non-stick spray, do it when it’s cold.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients, including the Toblerone. I’m a bit of a lazy name brand cook and always reach for the Aunt Jemima ‘complete’ pancake mix whenever I can.
  4. Grab a few “dead” or “overly ripe” bananas from the freezer and thaw them in the microwave. About 20 seconds on high is enough, flipping once during the process.
  5. Cut open the banana and add it to the mix. Be sure to break up the banana chunks a little in advance. It makes for less lumpy pancakes.
  6. Add the recommended water to the bowl plus a little extra to make pouring the mix easier.
  7. Mix it all together with a spatula — there’s no need to get out the mixer. It can get messy, but it’s so easy a two year-old can do it. In fact, I encourage her help. They just taste better.
  8. Let the batter ‘rise’ for a few minutes. It’s simple — just leave it sitting on the counter while waiting for the few remaining minutes for the griddle to heat up.
  9. Pour about a 1/4 cup of the mix onto the griddle and cook as per the instructions on the box — or however you would normally cook them.
  10. Stack them up and enjoy.

Just a quick side note that I used some organic agave berry syrup on them this time and thankfully I barely used any. These are sweet. Like very sweet pancakes (and not in that “Dude where’s my car” sweet way). Occasionally when making the Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes, I’ll also add in some coconut. With the Toblerone the golden nugget seems to be enough to give some additional flavor.

Honestly, I know it doesn’t take much, but I was impressed along with the others who happened to enjoy dinner. I’ve noticed a craze around bacon for the last year and am starting to wonder if there’s a niche for different ways to use Toblerone.

What are some of the ways you use Toblerone or would like to see me try it out? Let me know. I’d be happy to share the results.

1 Comment | Filed under Diet, Life

Calgary 911 operator the best

Red Cross
I had the fortunate opportunity to deal with a Calgary 911 operator today, Calgary Fire Department and Calgary EMS. I say fortunate not because of the situation, but because of the level of service and professionalism that I witnessed.

Lately the Calgary 911 operators have come under attack for poor service. Today it was the exact opposite. Let me give you some background. I was at work and heading to the washroom. Upon opening the door I noticed a guy squatting beside the garbage can coughing and seemingly struggling to breathe. I casually asked “are you OK man” fully expecting the “yeah I’m cool” response. Instead he replied “NO!” Holy crap; time to enter back into ‘life saver’ mode. I continued to ask him if he’d like me to call someone or an ambulance or what I could get for him. He said that “someone needed to get him help quickly.” That’s all it took and I immediately called 9-1-1 and told him I was doing so. He told me someone had gone back to the call center to talk to someone to have them call. Ummm, last time I checked one of the first rules was to NOT leave someone having difficulty breathing alone. Conversely, if you’re having difficulty breathing DO NOT leave a public area in favour of a private space like a bathroom. You’re less likely to get help where nobody is around.

I stood in the doorway of the men’s bathroom with it propped open while the guy continued to cough and gasp as the phone rang once and was promptly greeted with “9-1-1 operator, for which city?”

“Calgary” I replied, immediately wondering if it was outsourced all of a sudden before resigning to the fact that it probably services all the surrounding communities too like Airdrie, Cochrane, Strathmore, Okotoks, etc.

“What’s the nature of your call?”

That was easy. I told him this guy was busy turning different colors of red and white, having problems breathing and complaining of chest pains. The dialogue went back and forth between myself, the 911 operator and as required the guy on the floor. I kept the door open waiting and watching for people to come by. Finally, after I already had confirmation from the 911 operator that the fire department was en route did the first guy show up and start dialling 911 with a cell phone. Seriously! WTF?!?!? He wasn’t my concern; it was that of the guy on the floor. I know his name, but I don’t want to release that as it still is a bit of a privacy matter. I want him to deal with his issues in private or public, but allow him that choice.

Building security quickly showed up, along with two of the guys team leaders. I sent one downstairs to greet the Calgary Fire Department when they arrived. Security was also on the radio with his colleague and confirmed that CFD was in the building and on their way up. The gave the guy some oxygen, checked blood pressure and listened to his lungs all while getting him to calm down and start breathing more of a natural rhythm. It wasn’t until they arrived the very nice guy at the 9-1-1 facility released me from the line…the other guy was let go pretty quickly once I mentioned to the operator we had multiple calls going in. All this happened in under 10 minutes…15 from the time the first guy came into the bathroom.

About 5 minutes later Calgary EMS showed up to further asses the patient. I’ll now call him a patient as they decided that they were going to take him to the hospital. CFD left and wished him luck after giving a very detailed briefing to the paramedics. It was easy for them to come in. Again, communication comes into play for life and death situations.

Burbank Rescue AmbulanceLong story short, EMS continued their assessment and loaded him on the gurney for transport and they left. A few things to note from the incident though that I thought would make sense to bring up:

  • Don’t leave anyone in duress alone. Open the door, scream for help, or call from the cell phone in your pocket.
  • As mentioned above, if you’re in duress, go to a very public, populated place. Someone will help you, I promise.
  • When I sent the guy to wait for CFD I got him to repeat back to me what was needed. I also told the operator the floor and area we were in the building in case the guy failed to return.
  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Yes I said it three times but it’s vital. The three departments communicated to each other but they can only communicate what is given to them. Give it all. As much as you can. The 9-1-1 operator asked questions which I had to ask the guy. It was hard for him to answer, but I wasn’t going anywhere so had the time to wait. By taking that time it made EVERYONE’S job easier; even mine.

Now a quick bit about the guy. He was just diagnosed with asthma last week and had taken two puffs from his ventolin inhaler prior to my arrival with limited benefit. He had smoked for the last 10 years. He was only 25.

Today helped me to realize just how easily life can be taken away. I’m sure he’s fine, though I’m not sure right now but will update once I do. I’ve been calling 9-1-1 on a needed basis for almost the last 20 years (I’m only 32) starting with my dad having an asthma attack. I’d like to think I’m experienced in an area I’d rather not be. The Calgary 9-1-1 operator was by far the best I’ve had to deal with…so cut them some slack.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Snodgrass, sfxeric style=”

1 Comment | Filed under Life