For those of you that know me, there are 2 things I really enjoy doing–drinking coffee and meeting smart people. I enjoy these things on their own, but even better together. Luckily I live in the most awesome city in the world so I get to engage in both activities fairly regularly. In New York there’s no shortage of smart people in which to meet and talk to about a variety of different topics–Human Resources, business, comic books–that allows for building an enriching relationship. These informal get-togethers have helped me be a better HR practitioner and blogger, amongst other things.
I realize now that I may need to alter this approach. There’s no political or economic motive behind it, although I do believe that Starbucks doesn’t need any more of my money. It’s about differentiation, which in this case means making a unique impression with those I choose to meet with. Remember, I talked about coffee and people. While none of the people I meet with are total strangers (we’ve connected prior to our first meeting, usually through social media) it’s often through these coffee sessions that we’re coming together offline for the first time. So, if I wouldn’t want to compromise a person’s impression of me by, for example, wearing pajama jeans, why do it with generic coffee?
Let me tell you a story…a few years I was doing research on corporate alumni groups for a former employer. Through my research I came across a person from IBM who was in charge of their alumni programs. As you can imagine, it’s an important component within the organization, as it’s over 100 years old and one of the most profitable and well respected companies in the world. Fortunately for me she was based out of New York City. I was able to contact her and we set an appointment for, you guessed it, having coffee.
For convenience sake she chose a place near her office, a cafe/restaurant in Grand Central Station. If you haven’t seen it, Grand Central Station is a gorgeous building, rich in history and architectural details. The restaurant, Cipriani Dolci, is beautiful as well, situated on the Station’s west balcony overlooking the Main Concourse area, which you can see in the photo below.