Coffee Connections

Opportunities abound when you keep yourself open to new conversations.

As a remote employee, most days I need to work somewhere other than my kitchen. Sure, I can easily walk to the Starbucks down the street as a reprieve from my studio apartment, but where’s the fun in that? San Francisco is booming with cafes and WeWork spaces I can explore. My problem is, I get stuck. I wake up and work. By the time I consider leaving, it’s “too late” to search for my workspace-of-the-day. 

There’s a local coffee shop I frequent that has free Wi-Fi, decent java, and a few tables and chairs on the sidewalk. It works – until I’m on a conference call and a bus blares by. 

While I was there this summer, a guy approached me and asked “Do you work here often?” While I tried to determine if this was a pick-up line (I’ve been out of the game for a while), he had already assessed my situation: remote employee at a random coffee spot that has free Wi-Fi, OK coffee, outdoor seating – and public transit that screams by every 15 minutes. Steve, co-founder of Out of Office, handed me a flyer and gave me a quick pitch of his new app. OOO helps you find your perfect “office,” from unique cafes to pay-per-day workspaces. The perfect app for someone like me. 

Steve followed up with an email and a code for a discounted workspace. After reviewing the app and using it to book a spot in my neighborhood (free Wi-Fi, amazing coffee plus rosé, beer, and Kombucha on tap, plenty of space in the sun, and zero traffic), Steve reached out to discuss my experience and waive my entire booking fee. A few days later I met with his co-founder, Kyle, who wanted to know what worked, what didn’t, how the app could improve, and what he and Steve could create for users like me. As a thank you for my input, Kyle added credit to my account. 

Turns out I was able to help him in another way. Kyle recently purchased a bus that needs to be wrapped. (Any Bay-Area takers?) Plus, he was interested in how Hint, a flavored water company, was able to place wide-format prints in empty retail spaces in our neighborhood, directing passersby to their store. Coincidentally, I had just spoken with the provider of the graphics, Big Picture Editorial Advisory Board member Luis Vivas of Vivas Banners and Signs, earlier that week. I connected the two and am looking forward to seeing out-of-home graphics from Out of Office very soon.

The point of this long-winded anecdote: You never know where the circle of life will take you. I needed Steve to approach me, just as much as he needed me to download his app. He was persistent in communication and I was excited to try something tailored to me. Kyle didn’t even know he needed me until we met, and now he has a PSP contact in the city. 

Be open to conversations, try something new, and attempt to pay it forward. Stay in touch and have open dialogue with your customers so you can provide the best, personalized service for them. You never know the connections you’ll make. 

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