My Starbucks $2 Grande Latte Experience

rahul and ed starbucks (2)I stepped off the airplane from my short flight from Hyderabad to Mumbai, gathered my luggage and walked out into the warm-N-humid day to wait for my friend Rahul who was about 15 minutes away to pick me up. I looked around to see where I could take refuge from the sultry air and the green lady beckoned me.Starbucks! I had lived in India from 2005 to end of 2009, and had been returning many times since doing coaching and leadership consulting. All this time, no Starbucks.

Stepping into the familiar scene, expecting to pay the familiar price for my Grande soy Latte….oh wait, a coffee cup with “India” on it, I spotted out the corner of my eye. Priscilla has a collection of coffee mugs from Starbucks all over the world…China, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine, Hawaii, Alaska, Belize and now India…what a find…a new one to add to her collection. I grabbed the cup and walked to the counter.

“Welcome to Starbucks, may I take your order.” Everywhere in the world, Starbucks people are trained to give great customer service.

“Yes, I would like a Grande, soy latte please.”

The price…RS 120 Rupees which is Two Dollars. I was stunned.

How could they sell the same experience in the Mumbai airport as the rest of the world for only two dollars?

Starbucks had only been in India since October 2012. When they first opened, everyone questioned whether they would make it in this primarily chai (tea) drinking country. I had attended a conference back in 2007 where the speaker polled the audience only to discover that instant coffee was the favorite coffee of India. There were many articles about Starbucks’ challenges including Can Starbucks make it in India?

I looked around and saw most of the filled seats with locals. “I guess they made it.” I thought to myself. And why?

  1. They adapted to the culture. They knew that people in India would not pay $5 for a latte. Even $2 is expensive for a latte in India. However at Starbucks you are not just buying a latte, you are buying an experience…and FREE WiFi!
  2. They have Chai on the menu. Tea drinkers can still enjoy the Starbucks experience without having to buy a cup of coffee.
  3. They partnered locally to be able to meet the price point of the local market. Starbucks and Tata are partnering in India. Tata is the largest in many markets: consulting, cars, and, yes you guessed it, coffee beans.
  4. No matter where you go in the world, people appreciate excellent service.

There are several leadership lessons we can glean:

  1. Embrace the culture to be accepted by the culture.
  2. Adapt to be the leader.
  3. Partnering helps a leader to understand the local culture.
  4. Some things are the same no matter where you go (i.e. how people want to be treated).

Sipping my hot Grande soy latte, in the nice cool Starbucks store at the Mumbai airport was a great experience. Later that evening sharing that experience with my friend Rahul in one of Mumbai’s malls in another Starbucks an even better experience.

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What behaviors are impacting your organization?

Was it performance that caused companies like EnronSatyam, Countrywide Mortgage, and the many of world’s banks to go out of business? Absolutely not! It was the behavior manifested by the leaders of these organizations that caused their demise.

We believe most organizations have put check and balances in place to flush out corrupted behaviors but they have not begun to measure some of the day to day behaviors that could be deadly to the organization’s people strategy and over time to the organization itself.

With less graduates entering the workforce and according to a recent Manpower Survey, 10,000 Baby Boomers in the U.S. alone retiring daily they are in for a rude awaking as the employer market shifts to an employee market and their people run out the door. As an early warning indicator, we developed 12 questions (symptoms) you can ask yourself and your employees.

  1. Do employee stay in office until just after the manager leaves and then scurry out the door?
  2. Is there a lack of trust among people?
  3. Is remediation more prevalent than recognition?
  4. Are leaders unwilling to share information with everyone?
  5. Is information hoarded between teams?
  6. When people ask for time off are they questioned about what they will be doing before they are given approval?
  7. Are there factions (groupism) among employees?
  8. Is productivity down or going down?
  9. Do you have leaders and/or employees who vie for power to gain position and control within a group?
  10. Are meetings a one-way monologue vs. participatory?
  11. Are people corrected in meetings and other public forums?
  12. Have managers been known to yell at their employees?

For any of the questions where you have answered, YES, your organization needs to explore how they can focus on teaching, observing and measuring the right behaviors to reduce the symptom. If the answer is “Yes” to more than half of the questions then a new people strategy is essential for the future of your organization.

Most companies primarily focus on performance and only monitor behavior when they find themselves in trouble for one reason or another. How leaders, and for that matter, how all employees behave is critical to the success of the organization and must take its rightful place as an equal partner with performance.

It is not about performance or behavior. It about PERFORMANCE AND BEHAVIOR. Start from today. Tomorrow may be too late.

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More than 500 leaders across India take the Leadership Challenge

More than 500 leaders from Infosys, Polaris, Cognizant, GE, CGI, Western Union, Cap Gemini, GT Nexis, UST Global, Kanter, GMR, and HP attended The Leadership Challenge one day workshop conducted across India in August when Ed Cohen travelled their to work with clients and to convey the message that behaviour is as important as performance.  Today, how leaders behave is more important than ever.  It is not skill or will that has gotten companies in trouble over the past few years it is the behaviour of the their leaders.  

Leadership is not about personality; it’s about behavior—an observable set of skills and abilities. When leaders are at their personal best they model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others, and they encourage the heart.

…liberate the leader within you to make extraordinary things happen

Essential concepts that form the core principles of the program include:

  • Leadership is everyone’s business
  • Leadership is a relationship
  • The best leaders are the best learners
  • It takes practice –deliberate practice—to become a better leader
  • Leadership is an aspiration and a choice
  • Leaders make a difference

Upon completing the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses
  • Clarify and communicate your fundamental values and beliefs
  • Set the example for others by aligning your actions with shared values
  • Express your image of the future
  • Inspire others to share a common vision
  • Search for opportunities to change and improve
  • Experiment with innovative ideas and learn from accompanying mistakes
  • Build collaboration, teamwork, and trust
  • Strengthen the ability of others to excel
  • Recognize the accomplishments of others
  • Apply the lessons learned in the workshop to a current leadership challenge
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7 MUSTS for Global Leaders…are you doing them?

Today, ouglobal2r world has become more interconnected than ever. The internet makes it much easier for people to conduct business wherever and whenever and it seems everyone is doing business globally.Even the small business down the street is buying their wholesale products directly from the manufacturer in Asia or Eastern Europe rather than going through a middle layer somewhere else domestically.

So, you have global responsibility or are aspiring for a role with global remit, then you better start building your mindset, skillset and toolset in these areas if you haven’t already done so.  Continue reading…

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India, is it what they say?

I am on my waymum1 to India for a month and so that has me thinking about the peoples’ mixed perspectives. My own experiences with India began when we moved to Hyderabad in 2005. Without ever having been there, we had packed up and moved from our home in Reston, Virginia. We lived there full time from 2005 to end of 2009. Then from 2010 to end of 2012, I commuted on an almost monthly basis. I find India be an inspiring and wonderful place. That said, it is not without its challenges. India is a country of extreme contrasts. Read the article…

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Join us for this complimentary Webinar The Leadership Challenge: What are the 5 Practices

Wed, Jul 23, 2014 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PST

Click to register

Approaching leadership as a measurable, learnable, and teachable set of behaviors, The Leadership Challenge framework grew out of rigorous research that first began in 1982 when Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner set out to understand those times when leaders performed at their personal best. What emerged were five fundamental practices common to extraordinary leadership achievements. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® continues to prove its effectiveness in cultivating and liberating the leadership potential in anyone—at any level, in any organization—who chooses to accept the challenge to lead. 


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5 Signs you need a Technology Vacation

In our interconnectteched world where you can do you can call, text, email, or connect via social media from practically anywhere in the world, here are five signs it’s time for a technology vacation.

View the article…


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3 Leadership principles from Jasper the Schnoodle

ed_jasperJasper came to live with us when he was just a pup. He was born on a farm in Maryland to a Poodle mum and a Schnauzer Dad. The combo makes him a Schnoodle. They say a dog ages 7 years for every human year so at 10 people years he is a wise 70.  Over the years, we’ve learned much from observing this smart little guy navigate the world around him. When he was a year old, we moved to India where he spend the next 5 years of his life experiencing as we did the masses of people and animals that freely roam the streets.

Each day Jasper would hop into the car taking his rightful place next to our driver (only the bravest drive in India and I was not one of them). He was so curious about everything, never even taking a moment for the tiniest nap. Continued…

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moving upMoving Up the Relationship Chain

Moving up the “relationship chain” is critical for organizations. A long-lasting relationship that converts to strong retention is the desired result for companies that want to sustain themselves through good times and bad.

The employee relationship chain has three stages:

1. Share of opportunity

2. Share of mind

3. Share of heart

Read the full article

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Celebrity Leaders are Passe’

By Ed Cohen and Arunav Sinha 

celebrity“The surplus society has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality.” Kjell Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle, Funky Business 

In our “surplus society‟ corporations depended on celebrity leaders who acted as brand ambassadors. These corporations leveraged the dynamic persona of one or a few individuals who provided the „face‟ of the company. Their presence, strengths, whims, fancies, and peculiarities shaped and symbolized these organizations. Read more…

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