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.

History

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.

Reactions

“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.”

Insight

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.

Conclusions

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.

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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.

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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=”

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The “Buy Canadian” challenge

I can’t take credit for this thought, but it did strike a solid chord with me and it makes perfect sense. It was in an email that I received this morning from a friend and I figured it was something I truly needed to share. It makes sense no matter if you’re Canadian, American, Australian or any other nationality. The ideas are clearly and easily transferable to impact any country’s economic outlook.

What would happen to our trade and economic growth if we all bought Canadian???????

A physics teacher in high school, once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn’t slow a train very much, a billion of them would. With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good Canadian.

Good idea . . .everything from one light bulb to vehicles at a time . . . .

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowe’s the other day for some reason and just for the fun of it I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Home Hardware and just for the fun of it I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in Canada. Start looking.

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else – even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let’s get behind her!

She said: My grandson likes Hershey’s candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked, ‘Made in Mexico’. I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Wal-mart. I needed 60W light bulbs. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labelled, “Everyday Value.” I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats – they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in – get ready for this – in Canada in a company in Ontario.

So throw out the myth that you can not find products you use every day that are made right here.

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in Canada — the job you save may be your own or your neighbour’s!

If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying Canadian, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

(We should have awakened a decade ago…)

Let’s get with the program…help our fellow Canadians keep their jobs and create more jobs here in Canada.

If President Obama insists on a “Made in America” policy, which is commendable of him to support American workers, we should do likewise.

BUY CANADIAN! Read the labels. Support Canadian jobs.

So that’s my thought. I plan to start looking to buy Canadian. I’m amazed there’s not a “buy Canadian” website out there yet…or maybe there is. I honestly haven’t looked yet.

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Goals are good, so review them

success arrowI figure that it’s been almost two months since I wrote my 2010 goals out for all to see, so I decided that today would be an appropriate time to check in on them. After all what good is it to write down your goals when you never review them. It makes it much easier to ignore them, that’s for sure. That’s not what I want to do. I made them to move forward and make some progress.

So “on with the show” as they say. A review of my 2010 personal goals begins:

  • Raise $20,000 for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre & Alberta Cancer Foundation through the 2nd Annual Tight ‘n Bright event to be held March 20, 2010.
    Well we got nowhere near it. In all honesty I haven’t added up all the numbers yet because I’m a little depressed on how low it is. I mean locally we can raise over $20k for something like Haiti relief, but when it’s something in our own backyard we tend to feel there’s no importance. This years event has caused me to re-think the model for next year—if we have a third-annual. Check the Tight ‘n Bright website for final dollar figures…soon.
  • Generate $80,000 through legal online activities like affiliate sales, products & services by September 15, 2010. Roughly 236 days remain, so that would equate to $338.98 per day…if I start making cash NOW!

    To date I’ve made $203.26 from online affiliate sales. Roughly 155 days remain until September 15 so that would mean an average of $514.82 starting today. It’s possible and totally achievable I know for sure. I just launched a site geared towards the Adobe Creative Suite 5 release that will generate some sales. I’ve also been working through the Shoemoney System and getting even more ideas. If you feel it’s too pricey for you, then why not try the FREE ShoemoneyX out for a while – like the 12 weeks it is?!

  • Run a full marathon under 4 hours by December 15, 2010.
    Still working on this. I met with a guy I’m calling my running coach and he gave me some great advice and training tips. Just a few days ago I went for a 10 mile run in about 1:50. I haven’t run 10 miles since the start of this year. I’ve registered for the Manitoba Marathon’s Half at the end of June and am contemplating the Calgary Half Marathon as well. I haven’t targeted my full for the year, but worst case I fly to Honolulu for a few days and run there again.
  • Launch BlueBinder by March 1, 2010 with full e-comm capabilities.
    Can you say nope. Haven’t touched it. I think about it A LOT but haven’t touched it.
  • Launch Phase 1 of OoberScoop by February 1, 2010.

    Sort of, kind of, but not really. You can sign up to get an invite right now and that’s about it…but the development stuff I’ve got looks good too. My business partner and I are reconvening this week to set some firm goals around it.

  • Launch Workshops Everywhere by February 1, 2010 to the Calgary market as detailed in Phase 1 of the plan.

    It launched. I think it was closer to March 1, 2010, but it still launched. Now we’ve observed a number of its weaknesses and are looking at a developer to completely customize the solution for what we need. Watch out for Phase 2 soon.

  • Travel to three new destinations by December 31, 2010.
    It’s quite surprising that I haven’t traveled much of anywhere in 2010. I went to Vancouver in February for the opening weekend of the Olympic games and to Winnipeg to see my family as well…but that’s it. Definitely nowhere new, though we are talking about Turks & Caicos or Barbados in October, so either of those would be new.
  • Speak at a minimum of one conference by November 30, 2010.
    This one hasn’t really been a focus at all. I’m targeting PubCon in Las Vegas in November, but who knows what things will come about. Honestly when I launch the above sites, there’s a strong chance that I’ll definitely be speaking about something at PubCon.
  • Support and love Monica, Ava and the other members of my family on a daily basis.
    I think I’m on target for this one. Sometimes probably over achieving.
  • Help Monica launch her site to the best of my abilities around her time line.
    It’s back on the radar again and I’m so happy about it. Still waiting and I can’t share too much, but you know once it’s launched it’s going to kick ass.
  • Blog a minimum of five times per week through to June 30, 2010.
    Ummm…yeah. That hasn’t happened really now has it?!
  • Live everyday and enjoy and appreciate what I have.
    I’d say for the most part I do this regularly. I still complain about some things (like work, lack of cash, etc) but I try to not dwell on them nearly as much as I used to.

After looking at the above, it’s actually not as depressing as I thought it was. There’s still plenty of time left in 2010, 262 days or so, to make it an amazing year. I’ll review the review in a month or two…on a casual basis to see how I’ve done again. Until then I’ll probably waste more time building out sites, trying new things, and just genuinely trying to enjoy life. Thanks in advance for reading and for any comments you feel like leaving.

Creative Commons License photo credit: nDevilTV

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