Pinch Me

            “Is it all a dream or, is it really happening?”  This is the line that’s been running thru my head lately.  Those close to me have assured me, that it is indeed happening.  {Insert bashful smile here}

             Let me fill you in.  I was encouraged by my boss to watch the Starbucks Shareholders Meeting on line and pay attention to Blair Taylor’s speech.   So, I did.  I watched that and something called The Partner Forum.    Since Starbucks is a profit sharing company the connection to the people who work for them is very important.  The entire thing (both of them) was captivating.  The way this company is run blows my mind.  The value of the human spirit is the most important asset in this company. From the famers to the barista, the human connection is THE most valuable commodity, period.  This is why I enjoy working for this company.  At the end of the day, and at the end of my days, I know nothing will mean more to me than people.  To work for a corporation that shares that value is tremendous.  

            After watching Blair Taylor speak, I was compelled to write to him.  I found his role in Starbucks to be inspirational and meaningful.  I also found his direction to be admirable.  Blair Taylor is the Chief Community Officer for Starbucks.  This is a new position within the company and I believe the first within a profit sharing company.   In this newly created position, he will lead the company’s Community, Government Relations, Diversity and Global Responsibility teams. He will also serve as a member of the Starbucks Foundation Board of Directors.  I wanted to talk to him about an idea I have, and using my sabbatical as the pilot for the idea.  Here is a little of what I sent to Mr. Taylor:

               My idea is simple.  I would like to start a Digital Storytelling piece of the company and use Social Media as a method to leverage stories for both partners and customers to connect.  I see the world we live in changing and the way we connect can be a powerful thing that results in a revenue generating force of the company not only in profit of sales but of pride.  

             Howard (Schultz) in the Partner Forum, said he wanted to talk about who we are as people, not a brand.  I believe the time for Digital Storytelling is ripe and organic for the company.  Using Social Media to leverage the messaging can be another way Starbucks is innovative and on the cusp of the way we do business.  Using the ‘lens of humanity’ as our compass we could be pioneers of a new way to connect to uniquely show the company is dependent of the human spirit.  

                  As a culture, we are changing the way we relate to who we choose to give our business to, why not tell a story people can feel good about?  The quote Dave Olsen referred to, “Too many people have jobs that are too small for their spirit” is valuable here because Starbucks encourages we as partners to pursue our dreams because of the work environment and the essence of the company.   Turns out, everyone loves a good story.  As you mentioned, people are longing for truth, humanity and authenticity.  The beautiful part about stories is they continue to be told, even after the first telling.

            Here’s the kicker … He wrote back and likes my idea.  So, now I have a meeting set up with Mr. Taylor next month.   I do believe I have hit on an idea that is ripe for development and interest.  I could very well be creating a new position for myself within a company that I’ve grown up in.  I mean really, how cool is that? 

            Part of my proposal to Starbucks is to use my sabbatical as the pilot episode of this new Digital Story Telling.   The cornerstone is that I want to tell the stories only a 10-year partner can tell.  That is the pivotal piece of this.   Partners that work in the stores and customers that connect with those barista’s – these are the stories that need/should be told.  The other piece of my pitch is to show that Starbucks is a “Dream Maker.”  Whether it is the barista that is putting themselves thru school, the mom who needs insurance while they get their framing shop up and running, or the musician who wants to land a record deal, or the photographer looking for a job in his career … Starbucks has a role in helping these people pursue their dreams.  I want to tell those stories, not only here in the US but around the world.  I want to show that we are all connected and all have similar desires and dreams.  Then, I want to create video vignettes leveraged via Social Media.   I believe we, as consumers want to feel connected to who it is we do our life-maintenance business with.  I want to highlight what it means to be a part of community and showcase how that adds value to all of us.