Every morning The Spear ducks down the road for
Cappy Hour – cheap coffee between the hour of 9:30-10:30AM. Every morning The Spear is faced with the
choice of two coffee shops, side-by-side; one always full and vibrant, the
other always empty and stark. Every
morning The Spear chooses the latter.
Actually, that is a lie. The first few times The Spear became aware of the time-specific sale of discount caffeinated beverages, he went to the much busier shop. Truth be told, until he got sick of having to wait so long for a coffee in the busy shop, he never even saw the obvious alternative situated right next door. Since then, he has never looked back.
Same coffee. Same cost. No wait.
What The Spear can’t fully understand is why no one else seems to have discovered the café next door. Every morning the hordes of caffeine lovers jostle in the atrium of the busy shop, seemingly unperturbed by expressos which are anything but express. Meanwhile next door The Spear is served so quickly he barely has time to read the headlines in the paper.
An obvious candidate for the disparity in business – to anyone who has frequented both establishments - is the staff and experiences they offer. The busy café is owned by a family of Italian immigrants, talking loudly and joking with their customers, with whom they have clearly established relationships. The Spear is uncertain who owns the second café, but it is certainly staffed by neat and demure Asian students, who offer little conversationally other than what is necessary.
The Spear, with his technical background and associated social skills, has no problem with the transactional offering. He is going to the shop for a coffee after all – not a conversation. Any conversation would detracting be from his objective – a quick coffee. The empty shop meets his requirements dutifully.
But seemingly The Spear is in a minority. It would appear that a relational, rather than a transactional approach to life may be the norm, if coffee shop attendance is anything to go by.
Is one expected to develop a relationship with a modern-day barista? Do they fill a void previously filled by some other form of relation or community – like a servant or the church? Is the coffee secondary to the banter and chat which may be had during morning tea? Is it that the relationships often count for more than the product?
If there’s anything that the world of ‘business’, as opposed to the world of ‘science’ has taught The Spear, it is that ability is important, but relationships are vital. Without healthy relationships, ability is essentially meaningless. You can make the best damn coffee or the best widget in town, but unless you are someone that people want to do business with – which may mean knowing the right people, having a charismatic personality or being trustworthy – people will take their business elsewhere.
Yes, you can achieve in isolation, but it is unlikely you will have anything other than the patronage of the transaction-minded minority to show for it.