Someone needs to take me aside and explain Facebook to me. I meet enthusiastic users of Facebook all the time who wax lyrical in their description of how connected they feel to their extended circles of online friends but … nope, don’t get it.
Now Skype I get. On a Skype call I can hear the person on the other end laughing and they don’t need to type “lol” into anything. [For me, Lol will always be the vacant-looking fellow from The Cure whose sole function appeared to be taking up space while he stared into space] Actual human conversation. With actual people. One, or a few, at a time. I wonder will it catch on …?

And then there’s Starbucks. Facebook and Starbucks occupy the same remote, barren little ledge on the outskirts of my brain. Someone really needs to sit me down and explain “The Starbucks Phenomenon” to me. I’ve sat in five or six of them here in Dublin and a few in airports in other countries and … I just don’t get it.

Okay – I’m a tea, not a coffee drinker.
Okay – I’ve never frequented one outlet long enough to get to know the staff.
Okay – I don’t like to do the sitting-all-afternoon-using-the-free-wifi thing in any cafe.
So I guess I’m not in their crosshairs as prime target audience.

But I just don’t get it.

Well-known to many of my long-term clients is my ‘second office’ – Juggy’s Well in Glasthule village. Nice tea. Warm and friendly service. Excellent coffee, I’m told. Yummy, freshly-made, unhealthy treats and really excellent breakfasts and light lunches. The music is so-so and if you want wi-fi, you’ll have to steal it from the recording studio next door. But Juggy’s is a delight, mostly because its staff are a delight. Coffee is coffee and muzak is muzak, but Anne and Val are worth their weight in gold. [By the way – that’s my table in the corner to the right of the window, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t park yourself there.]

The tea in Juggy’s is no better or worse than the tea in any Starbucks I have sat in – although I do prefer the mugs in Juggy’s; not so clumpy and thick-rimmed. But I have no feelings at all about any Starbucks I have ever sat in, whereas the thought of Juggy’s makes the corners of my mouth involuntarily twitch upwards. Perhaps this is a latent anti-franchise gene in me?

Mr Wally Bock has written a stunning post with his thoughts on Starbucks as a business. It is this kind of clear-sightedness and unequivocal communication that have made Wally such a wonderful resource for so many readers of his books and blog. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he talks this way with a client who needs a dose of reality. Extracts:

“Mr. Schultz said the number of customers in Starbucks stores had declined compared with last year but that the trend appeared to have bottomed out.”
Wally’s Comment: Really? So as the economy goes in the tank and people lose jobs they’re gonna keep right on buying those five dollar coffees? Not likely.

“We believe we are more relevant to our customers than ever before because of what we are all facing.”

Wally’s Comment: I’ve got it. We’re going to spend five dollars on a cup of unspectacular coffee in a cluttered venue because your company is in trouble. Not likely.

Some of the best, in-your-face, no-nonsense thinking I’ve read in a long time. You can enjoy the whole post here.