You are a Brand

Starbucks was once a humble Seattle coffee shop.

It’s now the modern-day equivalent of a soda fountain from the 1950s.

Look at the two images below:

Here’s 1955:

The similarities are striking. Starbucks is no longer really about coffee.  This past Saturday Cyndi and I stopped by a store in San Francisco’s Financial District, and the one thing I didn’t see anyone drinking was…coffee. They were quaffing lattes and mochas and any myriad number of caffeinated milkshakes. The baristas were making these multi-ingredient monstrosities with whipped cream and chocolate and caramel, squirting shots of gelatinous flavor goo into “Venti”  cups. The coffee included in these milkshakes seem to be getting a lot closer to Maxwell House than to artisanal java- these light and “blonde” roasts are nauseatingly weak for my palate.

I like coffee.  I like flaming hot and jet black coffee, with nary a no-whip half-caf vanilla anything.  I like deep, rich, bold and powerful coffee, the kind snobby coffee snobs like.

Starbucks has somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 stores around the world, and they have created a formula that works- the relaunch of a quintessential American cultural brand. I have no objection whatsoever to their ubiquitous presence on the streets of practically every city, or to their evolution over the years as a national brand. The free enterprise guy in me has no quarrel with a business people want to patronize.

But I, the precious coffee snob, have a way to sniff out the real deal- Foursquare.

If we set aside the horrifying fact that we who opt in to these mobile apps have relinquished every last shred of personal privacy, what is fun about Foursquare is that it’s more specific than Siri on the iPhone, more pointed in point-of-view than Yelp, and more social than all of them.

I can find a coffee shop within walking distance of my location that suits my snobby coffee tastes, and I might find a friend nearby too. The game-playing aspect of Foursquare is less important to me right now; I have no burning desire to be the Mayor of Anything this week, but maybe the thrill of having patronized the fancy schmancy coffee spot will become more valuable. Foursquare has made broadcast advertising less and less appealing, and not really necessary at all for a small neighborhood business. If the “real” coffee shop I seek is smart, they have paid Foursquare for the opportunity at offering reward for my relationship- a deal.

I’m there.

Think of all the people in the job market. Many of them are qualified and have had success in their fields, some may have even become quite wealthy in the process. Think of them all as Starbucks locations. Yes, they are popular, but they’ve become much less interesting.

You are special. You have a special set of skills to bring to the table.  You are the special coffee shop.

There are employers who are looking for you, right now- and you possess the identical qualifications they need.

These employers need to be able to find you as effortlessly as I find Philz coffee locations in San Francisco.

Your resume has to be effortless to find and a dream to access. It’s just a foot in the door, but when you get the door opened a crack, I’m positive you’ll smash your way in and close the deal.

You are a brand.  I’d like to show you how to create it, modify it, and promote it.

Beginning April 2- The Reinvention of You, on Skillshare.  It’s a one hour a week, five week course on the art of starting anew.  I’m the teacher of this online, private class on WebEx. No miracles, no infomercials and not a bit of BS. It’s the steps to discover the talents that you forgot you’ve had all of your life. Click here for details.

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