Two GIANT Differentiators for Success

coffeeThe other day at Starbucks, I ordered a real man’s drink, one with mocha, caramel, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Heck, if they served drinks in a little sippy Princess cup, I’d have gone with that, too. I’m a sweet guy. You don’t get that way from eating rotten eggs and burnt toast.

Presentation is everything. Or is it?

The barista, which I believe is Italian for coffee pourer, wrinkled her face in rapt concentration as she mixed my beverage.

Espresso met steam as the woman worked the machine. More steam again as my milk turned hot and frothy. Finally, the concoction went into a venti-sized cup (which is a word that Starbucks created that means, “If you pay with $10, don’t expect change”) as the barista added the final touches of whipped cream, chocolate and caramel syrup.

Just before she pushed the hot cup towards me, she popped on the lid, and


Globs of whipped cream, chocolate and caramel syrup shot out of the drink hole and splatted all over the top and sides of my container.

Your people create what your customers experience

Our eyes locked.

Other people waiting for their own drinks saw the mess, and their eyes passed uneasily in a triangular scan of me, the barista, and the messy cup.

The barista’s hand found a cleaning cloth without looking down, and she picked up my cup while bringing the rag to my drink.

And then she did something unexpectedly cool.

Instead of wiping off my cup, she said

I am not going to remove one drop of deliciousness from your cup.

I laughed. The people around me laughed. The barista laughed.

How she handled that situation tells me that Starbucks hires great people. I’ve never had a bad experience at Starbuck’s. Ever.

Your perspective determines what you experience

In the same way that people create success for organizations, your perspective creates success for you.

I go to Starbucks because whenever I go inside, I stand in line with cool people, am served by cool people, and get a decent cup of coffee in exchange. And I’ve not been disappointed. That’s why I go, and that’s what I get.

But I could have just as easily viewed my most recent experience differently. Like “Here I am driving out of my way to stand in line with a bunch of people who are too lazy to make their own coffee at home. And to add insult to injury, I get overpriced coffee served by a hipster who makes me feel so old that I want to apply Ben Gay to my legs just to burn people’s eyes!”

And if that were my perspective, that’s what I would get: lots of reasons to gripe.

Challenge your “reality”

Try it out today. Lead like the barista: If you can’t fix it, feature it. Look for ways to spotlight the upside for others, not the downside.

Act like you’re paid to find things that are working well. When you’re tempted to dwell on something that’s wrong, challenge yourself to find something right with it–or at least something funny and ironic–instead.

Don’t wait until you discover perfect conditions before finding and expressing a positive perspective.

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Lia Mote says:


    Read this today. Made me just laugh out loud; so true. Great article. I guess in your perspective the cup is half full!

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      Thanks, Lia! My cup is not only half full but it’s spilling over!

  2. Laurence says:

    So well captured, and although I have had bad service at Starbucks it is very minimal compared to so many other places. People are always friendly and smiling. My French palate prefers PEET’s Coffee at Starbuck’s, and people there are even better at what they do, but until they are more prominent I am still proud to be a Starbuck’s customer!

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      Thanks, Laurence! Yes, the coffee wars will continue with various factions pulling for Seattle, Italy, France, or Costa Rica. Truth is, I like them all. And I will return where the service comes with a smile!

  3. Eric says:

    I believe George Carlin said the cup is neither half full nor half empty, the cup is just too large. Obviously not the case here.

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      Great George Carlin connection, Eric. I’m a firm believer that when it comes to coffee, the cup can never be too large!

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