Category Archives: Eating Out

Working @ Starbucks — the other way…

No, this is not about making the perfect frappuccino. Nor about being member of a union.
 
It is about the observation at my favourite Starbucks outlet that more and more creative class freelance professionals seem to discover the cozy local coffee shop as a convenient replacement for working alone or in home office.
There is lots of well-brewn and affordable “cheap-refill” coffee available throughout the day, enough space and stylish interior to host client conversations, as well as large-enough tables for team-meetings. And free wifi along with your cellphone ready on the table makes sure, nobody needs to notice you’re not, well, “at work”.
 
While the ability to check your e-mail at the coffee shop isn’t exactly new, the idea of regularly going there for work, just as you would normally to an office (read: from early morning just until the late afternoon, when she location starts to get occupied by the more noisy “private” coffee-sippers) at least for me seems put new perspective on it.
 
As an interesting alternative/supplement to the contemporary co-working movement with probably somewhat less cross-pollination intended, working at Starbucks however doesn’t come without benefits on the house:
The coffee shop gets its rooms filled at times of the day when commonly “to go” is the appreciated bestseller. Fortunately, at the same time, the new guest group won’t alienate the more traditional customers by staring a their laptops with a shining blue glare spread over all their surroundings (as common in the early days of free wi-fi offered in cafes). The aforementioned screen-workers just by their nature flee from more lively visiors during the afternoon hours, who regard the coffee outlet more as their favourite Third Place, rather than a work enviroment.
 
And even though Starbucks management by now may as well not have fully gotten the actual business potential coming with providing public co-working space — their prospects definitely have.
 

Book Review: Never Eat Alone — with Keith Ferrazzi

 
Do you know, what it’s like to drive a real Ferrazzi ?  Well, as far as this book is concerned (with a German Edition available as well), this Ferrazzi (model "Keith") clearly is driven by making both a connection and a difference.
 

Once you got used to sentences starting with expressions such as "networking super-hubs like me" ;-), you find this book to be a suprisingly complete guide to Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazzienhancing your very own interpersonal skills — always one connection at a time.
   At the beginning Keith Ferrazzi convincingly explains, why he believes reaching out to other people and offering your help being together the most effective (if not the only) way towards a happy as well as successful life, constantly telling examples from his own experience. You learn how to define your personal goals and then identify the right people to help you complete it. Then one gets instructions on how to get into the right mindset, while avoiding common pitfalls.
   Afterwards, Keith Ferrazzi teaches you the trade of how to successfully making connections, from in-advance research on the people you would like to meet, over pre-warming "cold" phone calls and adding meaning to small talk by showing some vulnerability, to detailed Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazziadvice on how to make sure, the people you once contacted won’t forget about you, while you still successfully survive the information flood caused by phone calls, appointments and contacts you gather.
   Then you proceed to the advanced concepts, containing guides to mastering typical business scenarios: You learn to systematically expand your network by e.g. finding "anchor tenants" out of other social groupings, getting most out of conferences by adding your own events and finally, well, not eating alone by inviting other people for dinner.
   Here it has to be said, that Keith Ferrazzi knows the art of pulling together the right people inside out and that his single chapter of tips on running successful dinner parties probably makes up for more substance than some entire magazines devoted to solely that topic.
 

Though some of the author’s advice may need some adjustment to your particular cultural environment, following his guidelines building your own brand by neither giving in to hubris, nor getting boring, will inevitably allow you to get along with other people in your own life much more joy- and successfully.
 

Want to give Ferrazzi’s practical approaches a try ?  Take this video as an example:
 

 
Unfortunately the book-accompanying website has been replaced by the one of its reportedly even more renowned successor Who’s got your back ?. But it’s still worth a visit, especially for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, containing a multitude of valuable networking tips (many of which "never eat alone" discusses in greater detail…), and its community section where you can connect to and exchange with many other people practicing Ferrazzi-style business networking.
 

Checkout Re-Visited: Step 3 — Entering Your Shipping Information

 
Does any online vendor need to know where you live and when you move and who you would like to send a present to ?
 
Isn’t that you having to pay the shipping anyway !??
 
Furthermore with every new online shop one buys from, a new transmission risk is brought up; even less in terms of loosing or unwillingly leaking the data, as much more in the forms of typos and misspellings going to prevent successful execution of the order itself.
 

Well, admittedly, as of this writing, in most parts of the world the seller needs to know where to ship the items you ordered alongside with the obligatory invoice — and he likes it that way.
 
Especially, as this will also make sure that all his colorful prospectuses will reach you reliably as well.
 

Nevertheless: From all orders made over the web, most deliveries are likely to be executed by no more than a fistful of forwarding agencies.
 

So why shouldn’t you simply tell them the shipping details ?  This would both protect your privacy and likely reduce errors in address transmission (a common cause of failed delivery) to a minimum. If they get your address right once, it is secured they have it until you decide to move for the next time or ask for deletion.
 
Or you may even make shipping providers subscribe to a machine-readable address profile of you on the web (as you probably may already have one with online social networks such as LinkedIN or XING) to make sure their information is always up to date. Want to send a present for a colleague ?  Just drag in you buddy’s address card from Facebook.
 

Reliable information exchange has never been easier and more secure.
 

The outcome concerning the shipping process now could be, just to stick an RFID tag or old-fashioned barcode label (as both are already quite common today) to the parcel and let you forward its identifier to the corresponding delivery service from right inside the checkout process. Approved transmission of your shipping information as being required by either the shop owner or the shipping provider can then be securely handled browser-based via a traditional web form (for instance, using the mentioned OpenID approach).
 

Too complex an idea to hope for a commercially reasonable adoption rate and timeframe ?
 

4 Dabbawalas @ work delivering tiffins

Then please take a look at Mumbai’s Dabbawala Association for instance. For more than a century now, this cooperative has delivered home-cooked food; first to the British colonial rulers and from mid-twentieth century then to Mumbai’s business people, building right from the beginning on exactly the before mentioned cooperative distribution model, where you tell the shipping provider instead of the producer, which destination you want the final product to be delivered.
   Dabbawalas may use colors and symbols instead of fashionable barcode or RFID tags, but the delivery concept has been the same for more than a hundred years now — so it can indeed be considered a ‘proven’ business model. As every single of the peer-to-peer deliverer knows his or her local district like the back of his hand, the cooperative delivers at a so sensationally low error rate, that any western parcel service may quite well take a leaf out of their book. Continuously rating at a full “Six Sigma” reliability with renowned consultancies, the association lately began to take online orders via their website or even via SMS from mobile phones. They also started opening their P2P delivery network e.g. to grocery businesses, so you can now get your daily dose of fresh veggies shipped directly to your cubicle as well.To the customers’ delight,
   Ordering via Dabbawalas also comes with a very transparent pricing model: The daily services are traditionally being provided at a monthly flat rate of around 300 rupees, locally perceived as something like € 6 (a de-facto even cheaper real price of around € 5 at current exchange rates). Newly additional services like delivering banking receipts or address confirmation of contract partners are being added to the traditional offerings as well — at reasonable surcharges.
 

An example for how deploying these concepts of ‘cooperative logistics’ (if you come up with a more suitable term for it, please let me know…) for short range to-your-door distribution in other parts of the world may spur entirely new business concepts (probably riding on the current growing demand for customized goods with its often numerous ‘long tail’-biz actors) while empowering the more traditional models with better service at their endpoints.
 

Too bad, we just paid a whopping € 2.60 handling fee on our two pizzas ordered to the office today…

Cosima’s cozy Darmstadt IT-Table for the Regulars (though not exclusively…)

Portrait:Cosima JoergensYesterday, for the second time already, I had been invited by Cosima Joergens, awesome host of the IT-Table, to join “the regulars” at the Kaminzimmer bistro in downtown Darmstadt (South-Hesse).
 
As one can easily tell from the pictures, it’s always a really fun crowd of web developers, programmers, IT-instructors, hardware & network techies, GIS enthusiasts from outside: the bistroand most any kind of species involved in making the IT economy run in the Rhine-Main-Area.
two guests
 
If you would like to join us the next time, feel free to leave a note on their website or at the OpenBC/XING Group.
 
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Back from Zaragoza

 
I savely arrived home from almost one week in Zaragoza where I attended the Innovate!Europe ’06 conference. It was an awesome experience.
 

To get so many smart people come to one place at a given point of time may be something, that only Chris Shipley (the conference’s executive producer) whith her huge reputation from more than 11 years of organzing the DEMO can do.
   And I did not meet a single conference attendee, not confidently stating that he or she intends to come back next year.
 

The organizers luckily allowed me to skip the staged presentation, since I really did not want to bore the highly sophisticated audience with a slideshow and early prototypes of a concept, while the other innovators mostly had at least nearly finished products.
 

In spite of that, both potential customers and investors, intersted in helping us pushing this project forward, visited me at our innovator station; I’ll keep you updated on what is coming out of these contacts.
 

Another amazing opportunity was last Tuesday’s networking-dinner: Not only we had very delightful conversations at our table (or at least half of it, as the other half did not speak any English, and therefore let the someone tell me, I was a ‘nice guy’, though clearly required to learn some Spanish before even thinking of attending next year’s conference…), but I also had not eaten such great mediterranean food for years !
   And you know, I’m quite demanding when it comes to finding a place to have really high quality food. ;-)
 

For any details on the conference itself, I highly recommend you reading the conference blog.
 

Furthermore: Do you know where the progress lives in Europe ?  Come to Zaragoza. It’s not just the ZH2O, the Expo 2008, that throws its shadows on all the refurbishing of public buildings etc., but the comparably young population of this old city, with its loads of small businesses, gives it this vibrant and lively image.
   You can also get free Wi-fi at literally every corner !  So if you haven’t been there yet: It’s just an affordable two-hour direct flight from Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
 

I can’t wait to get there again — though I may have to hold back myself until next year’s conference…
 
 

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