It's true. I rarely walk into a Starbucks without my laptop. Not because I need a laptop to enjoy Starbucks, but because I need a Starbucks to use the web.
I found myself with a few minutes to kill while a friend was shopping this weekend, and next thing I knew, I was in a Starbucks with no laptop. Totally different deal. Very zen.
Anyway, on the way in I overheard a conversation (okay, I was eavesdropping, but it was on your behalf). Three 20 somethings who worked at the fast food place next door were whining about their jobs. Two were talking about how horrible it was to "open." The third admitted that he liked to open, because then he didn't have to deal with the &#&$ customers. After about a minute of the detailed complaints, I had had enough and went inside.
Inside the Starbucks, the first thing I noticed, tucked deep in the corner, not for customer inspection, apparently, was a bulletin board. The bulletin board was jammed with pictures of the staff. The staff on a picnic. The staff at an amusement park. The staff kidding around.
That very same staff was working behind the counter. If it's possible to make an herbal tea with enthusiasm, they were doing it. If it's possible to make a $4 transaction feel joyful, they accomplished it.
Okay, the obvious thing here is that this is the Starbucks marketing effort, almost in its entirety. They don't advertise, they don't launch new products every day, but they are selling the way it makes you feel to purchase something there. And I have to tell you, it made me feel great.
The less obvious thing is that the folks behind the counter weren't making this up. It wasn't inauthentic. They had decided to enjoy their jobs, they were enjoying their jobs and it was helping not just Starbucks, but it helped them, too. All I had to do was glance out the window to see the difference.
I think there's a huge lesson here. Not just for marketers who sell interactions (that means everyone except for maybe commodity steel producers) but for employees too.