Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coffeshop talk

My flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is another 30 mins away, I truly appreciate the wireless technology that is made available through MC Donald, airport outlet. Ordered myself a cup of hot coffee to get my idea juice flowing. A Cup of regular coffee in MC D cost RM3.20 while you can get a freshly brewed coffee in the usual coffeeshop for RM1.20. Well, I don't mind paying a little more for convenience.
In Malaysia, coffee shops can been seen everywhere regardless whether it is a small rural town or in the big metropolitan city.It is more concentrated in the Chinese populated area. However the coffee served in big cities are those branded with strong association to lifestyle, brands such as Starbucks, Gloria Jean, Coffee Bean and etc.
The conventional coffeeshop which I grew up with is more of a place to socialise than to be seen. The owner of the coffeeshop would be selling the drinks while renting out the available spaces in the shop to food vendors. It is common to see 2 to 4 food stalls offering varieties of food such as soup noodle , nasi lemak , economy rice and many other local Malaysian dishes.

Here the older generations gathered to talk about anything under the sun. It is not surprising to observe how one can sit and sip a cup of coffee for hours. In this informal setting, people put forward their opinions from politics, economy and current events. If you sit a little longer , you will notice people from all walks of life gathering regardless social status.

When I was managing an insurance agency force, the coffeeshop is the focal place where we bond on a more personal level. I must attest that sometimes, coffeeshop small talk do bring in business.

It is all about relationship, a meeting place where one can feel comfortable with each other and share about things. In any organisation, I feel it is important to have a common ritual where all staff gather to meet and talk openly. I recall reading about the former GE chairman Jack Welch implemented the Work Out strategy, how staff began to contribute workable ideas though the informal gathering.

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