Category Archives: coffee

Having ideas isn’t the problem. The hard part is making them happen.

I’ve just finished reading Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky; an inspirational book full of practical advice based on real experiences of the challenges and joys of making ideas happen.

 

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” Thomas Edison

As Scott rightly points out, having ideas isn’t the real problem; it’s making them happen. Ideas don’t happen because they are great or by accident. They happen because people make them happen. And there is a formula.

Making ideas happen = Ideas + organisation + communal forces + leadership capability

Organisation This is about managing your energy wisely and prioritising where you will make the most difference. Scott suggests that you approach everything (even personal life)  as a project.  All projects are broken down into;

  • Action steps; specific concrete tasks that move you forward; write blog, call important person, pay electricity bill
  • References; project related information; websites, email trails to refer back to
  • back-burner items; not for now, but someday; idea for a new training course or pitch for a client Organise everything in these three categories to move projects that matter forward.

Communal forces Ideas do not happen in isolation, (also see Stephen Johnson’s Where good ideas come from) you must build your networks, work with the people around you, tap into their energy, ask for their help in building, refining and broadcasting your idea, get their feedback and reciprocate.  This will help your idea gain traction.

“Diversity of opinions and circumstances increases the likelihood of happy accidents” John Maeda FISD President

Leadership This is the ability to inspire others. Your ideas will thrive with you as a creative leader. There are challenges to this; it requires a mindset and a personal resilience to help you overcome obstacles along the way to making your idea happen. Actually taking action or ‘shipping’ as Seth Godin names it in his excellent book Linchpin, is one of the biggest challenges. Having the ability to close down the ‘lizard brain’ that feeds on fear to stop you shipping things and causes you to sabotage your progress by having….. another……. meeting… (sound familiar?) is a skill that leaders must work hard at.

I love this book because there are many practical tips to help you make your ideas happen, my favourite tip is keeping an eye on the backward clock… and also the many stories including the Purple Santas.

Most ideas never happen. I challenge you to defy the odds and work hard to become a person whose ideas happen. If you can do this you will be at a huge advantage.

Better to aim too high and miss

For me customer service is really important. Often I’m criticised for having too high expectations of people. I don’t think I do. I just think most people have very low expectations because they are so used to getting crap service.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”  Michelangelo

Last week my brilliant friend Sue booked a meal for four of us through Groupon (and you know how I feel about Groupon) at a London restaurant called The English Pig.  Great concept, unless you are a vegetarian as it only serves pork. Delicious pork.

We got off to a great start, the manager was brilliant, friendly, chatty, told us about how business was tough but the Groupon deal was really working. He recommended several top dishes and we were all suitably impressed.

He took our order, the food arrived, which I have to say was delicious, but sadly, after that the service nose-dived. We had to practically do a Mexican wave to get anyone’s attention to order more drinks, we quite fancied dessert but by the time anyone noticed our frantic waving the moment had passed. So we tried to get the bill, but ended up going to the bar to ask for it as all the staff had disappeared.

Now is it just me, or is this a common occurrence? You arrive at a restaurant and staff are falling over themselves to take your order, often more than one person is prowling round the table interrupting your conversation in their eagerness to serve. As the meal progresses the staff become sparser until you are left stranded, desperately vying for someone’s attention to process the bill.

So we know that the world is a tough place for any business right now. We also know that it’s way harder to and more expensive to get new customers than to keep and develop your old ones.

So why invest in a Groupon deal to get people through the door and then do such a rubbish job that they won’t come back? Or worse still they tell their friends/the whole world about their below par experience?

Now let me make an analogy to fundraising; Groupon is the equivalent of a mass participation event. It’s about getting lots of people through the door. If you do not have a strategy to get those people more engaged, to make them want to come back then you are not making the most of your investment.

So ask yourself; Are you really looking after your donors, or are they going thirsty? Does their experience with your mass participation event leave them full and satisfied, eager to return, or are some leaving feeling short-changed?

How can you use the restaurant analogy to think of ways to engage supporters?

A well used creative thinking technique is to view a challenge from a different perspective, so for example you could use the restaurant analogy in a fundraising context as an example of how not to treat donors, and then do the opposite. You may come up with a fresh perspective on how to engage supporters.  Go on, have a go. I’ve given you some examples below to start you off.

  • Prowl around at the start and lose interest towards the end could translate into – celebrate at the end, make the end of the event really special, make the process of giving money a pleasure
  • Allow them to leave feeling uncared for, like you don’t value their custom could translate into – giving them a reason to come back; a post event party, an opportunity to volunteer/make more of a difference
  • Don’t make any attempt to build a relationship apart from the initial greeting could translate into building great rapport; have dedicated volunteers whose role is just to build rapport with participants

What other ways of developing supporter relationships can you come up with using the restaurant analogy?

A brief guide to social media friendship etiquette

When Tim Berners Lee invented the world-wide web in 1990 I don’t think he, or any of us could predict the huge changes it would make to the way we communicate and live our lives. The internet has shifted the basis of some fundamental relationships. With the growth of online social networking what does it even mean to be a ‘friend’? Personally I’m a bit confused.

The dictionary defines a friend as

• A person you know well and like, and who is not usually a member of your family

• A person you know, like and trust

• A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade

• One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

So when someone you don’t know declares their friendship online, what do you do? It’s not very friendly to ignore or reject someone, but then again is it ok to assume a level of intimacy by asking a stranger for friendship in the first place?

So to help me navigate round the world of online friendship I’ve set some basic friendship criteria.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit of a free for all, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. However, just because you are following someone on Twitter doesn’t make you friends. It’s the online equivalent of living in the same town, you have some common interest and Twitter is just a mechanism to allow you to more easily know about people doing the same stuff.

If, on Twitter, we chat, share links, share ideas and build some rapport we could be heading into friendship territory. We may even meet face to face, either at an organised Tweetup or networking events or a 1:1 meeting. For example great to connect with @commutiny recently and @ycharity at the Institute of Fundraising’s First Thursday last week. So once there is some specific contact we could be in a position to be ‘friends’ on Linkedin.

Linkedin

This is a professional network, so linking to people in your industry, people with shared professional interests including headhunters and job seekers. I love Linkedin, but just because you work in the same industry as someone you can’t assume you are ‘friends’. Sending a generic introduction ‘indicating you are friends’ if you are not – is not OK. If you work in the same org/industry and want to link to someone then that’s great, but put a line in your introduction, like ‘ I saw we are on the same group, work for xxx company and it would be good to talk about a project I am working on’ – or similar.

Declaring friendship with someone you do not know is the equivalent of rocking up to a stranger at a business conference and treating them with the intimacy of a long-lost friendship with a big hug and kisses an a reference to weight gained/lost. If you have not established any relationship before it feels uncomfortable and frankly weird.

Facebook

Now onto Facebook; a lot of organisations use Facebook as a corporate site and a lot of companies are doing a really good job of building communities of loyal customers, engaging them with product development, getting feedback and gaining insight.

However, I use Facebook to link with my friends. Real life people who I know. Facebook is great for sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends overseas, finding long-lost friends and stalking ex’s (apparently).

Seriously, you have to know me to be friends. Just because we went to the same school 20 years ago don’t assume friendship, and if it’s a bit of a tentative connection give an explanation when you invite me to be your friend.


My Facebook rule is ‘If they turned up at my house on a Sunday afternoon would I invite them in for a cup of tea?. If the answer is yes, then we can be Facebook friends.

If you are using Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to build communities, donor or customer relationships, have a think about friendship etiquette. This is especially important for communicating with those born before 1990, because it’s a new skill. They didn’t grow up with the internet. Before you send a friend request take a moment to consider how the person you are befriending will feel about your request, it may be that there is a better way of communicating with them to get the result you want.

I’m not saying my view is gospel, but it’s helping me navigate in a way that feels right for me and importantly does not dilute the importance and meaning of offline friendships.

What do you think?

You can help. Even if you just do one thing.

Two billion cups of coffee are drunk every day. I for my small part contribute to that total. Coffee has become a staple part of my existence, dare I say an addiction that I now rely on to kick-start my brain and body into action.

Ethiopia is the largest producer of coffee in Africa. 15 million people depend on coffee for survival in Ethiopia. It represents 67% of their export revenue.

The problem is that the Ethiopian coffee farmers don’t get paid enough by the West to survive.

Last week I watched Black Gold which is a film about Tadesse Mesekla who is the General Manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union. Tadesses’ job is to negotiate with coffee buyers so that they pay his farmers a better price than that currently set by the international commodities exchange.

In 1989 the International Coffee Agreement, which was responsible for regulating coffee trade prices collapsed. Since then coffee trade has not been regulated. Today the market is dominated by 4 multi national companies, Kraft, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble and Sarah Lee.

  • A cup of coffee in western countries costs approx US$2.90.
  • A kilo of coffee produces 80 cups.
  • The Ethiopian farmers receive US$0.24 per kilo.

You don’t have to be a maths genius to spot that the west are massively exploiting the Ethiopian coffee farmers.

Since 1990 the coffee retail market has increased from US$30 billion to US$80 billion, yet the farmers do not see any of this income.

Tadesee is negotiating so that the coffee farmers can make enough from their coffee to enable them to live; to eat, to have clean water, to buy clothes and send their children to school. As Tadesee puts it, “not for motorbikes”. This isn’t for luxuries but for the essentials that many of us are privileged enough to take for granted. An increase, for example to just US$0.50 per kilo would change the Ethiopian coffee farmers lives beyond recognition.

The sad truth is that Ethiopian farmers cannot survive on what they are currently paid for their coffee crops. Many are now growing chat instead of coffee. Chat is a mild narcotic plant banned in the US and most of Europe. It has a greater market value that will enable the farmers to afford to eat and have clean water. It’s a question of survival.

The Ethiopian coffee farmers should be paid a fair price for their coffee. The west should not be exploiting them. You can help. Even if you just do one thing and only buy Fairtrade coffee products.

Learn more and watch the movie. www.blackgoldmovie.com or check out the following websites.

Cafe Direct

Fairtrade Foundation

Global Exchange

Clipper