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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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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Implementing multi-domains with #WordPress

I’m busy working on an idea, and it keeps growing and evolving each day. I’ll essentially be creating a portal of information, for lack of a better term. For this example lets go with running only 2 TLD domains. Something along the lines of region.com & city.com should work. These are not my domains, but illustrate the example I’m going after.

When the visitor goes to region.com they will be presented with a landing page that has information for that particular region. I live in the province of Alberta, so let’s use that as a reference point. Some of the information will be aggregated information from the city.com category. I live in Calgary, so think of it that way. Now I do say category because I’m that this will all be one WordPress install, with multiple domains. The URL structure would be region.com/city/another_category/article.html on the main site. ( alberta.com/calgary/events/event-1.html) What I want to do is have someone that goes to city.com be directed to the /city/another_category/article.html portion, however the resulting URL would appear as city.com/another_category/article.html (calgary.com/events/event-1.html)- as it’s own domain.

I’ve explored WordPressMU and I’m not completely sold on it as the solution. I know that it can do domain forwarding with it’s sub-domain settings, but I still don’t believe it will populate correctly.

The other option would be to still have region.com with links to categories, but it would then link off to city.com, city2.com, city3.com, etc as needed.

The other issue is that each city might not have a domain. So city2 (let’s use Airdrie) might not have a domain. Without airdrie.com it would then be alberta.com/airdrie/events/event-1.html but if they decided to get a domain at some point, I’d want to be able to utilize that. I was initially thinking of simple domain forwarding (i.e. calgary.com would just resolve to alberta.com/calgary/) but don’t really feel that’s the best solution for branding and definitely SEO.

Thoughts on this? Am I clear? Am I off my rocker on what I’m trying to do? Does this make any sense at all? Oh, and of course I need a solution basically yesterday. Thanks in advance for your input.

Edit: I just came across Examiner and it’s similar to what I’m looking to do…but NOT what I’m doing, so I still need a solution.

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How cancer has affected me

This post is going to be hard to write. I can already tell. I’m chock full of emotion already just thinking about it. I apologize now if it doesn’t quite flow correctly, but it’s what you get. There’s almost 25 years of thought in this 500 word post…so pay attention and do what’s right.

Twenty-five years ago I was 6 years old. I had a younger brother Robert who was two and a half…and that was as old as he would ever get. I remember that cold Winnipeg winter day on February 14, 1985 (yes Valentine’s Day) when I was taken home from elementary school, like it happened yesterday. Walking home with my grandparents who were in from out of town visiting. As I came around the corner I could see my house and the cars that lined the road way. I knew something was drastically wrong. I ran like I’ve never run before and flew through the door of my parents house. It was then I realized just what had happened. Robert had been sick almost since he was born and spent a lot of time at the hospital. I even spent a lot of time at the hospital but nothing like my parents did. Having an amazing daughter of my own now, I have no clue how they did it. They were so strong and for that alone I am blessed. Luckily we had good close family friends I could stay with. As a six year-old it was fun going to sleepovers at first. After weeks of sleepovers though, they became less and less fun.

Since losing Robert to Medulloblastoma, I’ve lost two grandparents, a great uncle, two great aunts and several family friends. I have friends who have battled and survived. Even friends who have beaten it multiple-times and still lost the battle one final time. There’s no doubt in my mind how much of an impact cancer has had on my life…and I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had it.

Honestly, I remember the good times and great impact these people have had on my life. It’s because of these people and even those whom I’ve never met, nor may have the opportunity to meet, that Tight ‘n Bright is around. It’s a reason to party. A reason to raise funds and awareness. Most importantly though, it is a reason to celebrate life! A life we are each fortunate to currently have and the lives of those who we’ve lost. As with our first Tight ‘n Bright party in 2009, our goal for this annual event is to raise funds in excess of $20,000 to go directly to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. We, myself and the team involved, would like you to join us for a fun filled, theme evening on Saturday, March 20, 2010 for the Second Annual Tight ‘n Bright – it’s where a party can help find a cure.

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#smbyyc – now what?

This morning I took the opportunity to head out to the Calgary Social Media Breakfast. I figured it was time that I get out of the house and meet some people. I’ve never had an issue with networking in the past, but today I still didn’t feel like me. Either way it was great seeing presentations from Roger Kondrat of west17media and by Troy Wason of WMS Communications Inc. This was the first event like this that I’ve been to, and I’ll be heading back for sure. I didn’t get a chance to make too many connections, but I made enough for this time around.

That brings me to the “now what” part of the title. I’ve got these business cards in my possession as most other people do as well. What do you do with them? Well it’s been my practice that after any seminar or conference I hit, I head over to LinkedIn and add them right away. It’s really the place that professionals connect. If we missed each other then feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter – these are my two most popular methods to connect.

As a side note, it was great that Ken Guenther of McQ Design Strategies shared the following video with us on the evolution of social media. It’s one that I’ve seen before, but decided that I should post it here. It’s a quick watch, but a great one.

It’s truly interesting to see just how quickly Social Media has evolved in comparison to other mediums. It really does provide a large chance for another post or two around it. I guess I should just ask you a question around the actual post subject. What do you do with your business card collection after a conference?

1 Comment | Filed under Code Development, Twitter