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Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Blog, purpose | 0 comments

questions around purpose (and a popular cafe)


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I am sitting at a small table by a large window with the sea breeze gently caressing my face.  This small table is at a new café that has just opened down the road from me.  The aesthetics are pleasing; warm yet modern, the music audible but not over-powering and there is a hum of customer conversation as the tables fill up.

It all looks good from here; plenty of staff who seem keen and willing to serve.  I’ve heard that this café is owned by the same people who run another café the next bay over, probably less than a kilometer away.  That is a place I would go to more often if I could be guaranteed a seat.  It’s that popular.  This new one is about three times the size and within the last week, it was dropped into 3 conversations that I was having.  People are talking about it.

So it looks good.  There seems to be a high likelihood that this café will be as successful and popular as the other ones owned by the same people.  On my second visit, I hit lunchtime and are were people lined up waiting for a spare table.  Literally meters away, there are another 3 cafes, all with a variety of empty tables.  They all look straight out on the local beach.  What is the difference?  How have the owners of this café created this response?  Why have they gone into this business?  What is their purpose? How has that been translated to their people; both employees and customers?

That’s what I’m really interested in as I sit and write these words.  Because it is easy to see what is in their favor: beachside location, great menu, excellent coffee.  But I can say the same thing for the cafes along the same stretch of road.  But I have never seen people line up waiting for a table at any of the others.

I get a hint when I get up to pour myself a water; a waitress hurries over to me and apologises;  “I should be doing that for you” she says.  An employee who cares, who wants to serve.  Who seems genuinely pleased to be working in this job, who really wants to do a great job.  And every employee at this café seems to be cut from this same mould.  In the hospitality industry which is notorious for low pay and young workers who treat it as a stop gap, I’m getting some pretty exceptional service.  Something more is at play.

I don’t know what that is yet for this particular workplace and for these people that are bringing me my coffee.  But this is why I am undertaking The Purpose Project, because I would like to explore this.  I’ll be contacting these owners and asking them if they would be interested in a conversation with me (fingers crossed they say yes).    It’s not just owners of successful local cafes that I want to talk with though; I am interested in what purpose means to us all, from stay at home mums to CEO’s of large corporations.  How does purpose (or lack of) impact our lives and our work?  How does our purpose impact others?

Conversations are kicking off this week.  If you are reading this and would be interested in talking with me, exploring what purpose means to you, I’d love to hear from you.  And it doesn’t matter where abouts in the world you are, thanks to the wonderfulness of the internet, we can still connect.  I am so excited about this.  I’ll keep you informed!

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