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I am finishing up a book about my Starbucks observations. Here is the table content, an excerpt from the introduction, and a contact form for you to be on the list to get more information about the book:


Stories Over Coffee

How the Coffee Shop Culture Provides a Template for an Amazing Life


Find Out How Starbucks Can Teach You To:

  • Land Your Dream Job
  • Seduce a Lover
  • Raise a Happy Child
  • Overcome Your Greatest Sadness
  • Find the Next Big Idea
  • Beat a Traffic Ticket
  • Make a Huge Sale
  • Run a Successful Business
  • Get a Movie Deal
  • Thwart Your Enemies
  • Become a Hero


                                                                                … and 97 other things that are just as cool 

Everything I Learned About Life Came From Sitting in Starbucks


The Faces of Starbucks


If you travel a nine-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, you will pass by no fewer than nine different Starbucks coffee shops — one every 5,200 feet. If you drop into one of those coffee shops, you might on any given day or night encounter one of these people:

  • A married woman talking loudly on her cellphone, complaining to a friend that the man she’s having an affair with is getting too clingy — and then her call is interrupted by texts from the man’s mother, begging the married woman not to break off her affair with her son because she  “is so good for him.”
  • A whiny 30-year-old guy is going on and on how he would like to win the lottery. An older man walking by his table says: “You won the lottery when you were born healthy, motherfucker.” The fact that the older man is the voice of Roger Rabbit made it even funnier.
  • A man, dressed in a Buffalo soldier uniform who has placed a small American flag on his table; he waits patiently for someone to ask about his odd garb so he can tell them about the book he wrote on the subject.
  • A woman, on Valentine’s Day, is muttering about the lack of romance in their life. A man gets out of his chair, returns a short time later with a bouquet of roses. He hands each woman a flower, kisses her hand, and then departs without uttering a word.
  • A board-certified physician conducting physical examinations at the big communal table — opening patient’s shirts to press a stethoscope against their chest; shining a light in their ears — while the other patrons sitting a few feet away continue to work on their laptops as if nothing unusual is occurring.

While these scenarios might sound like the stuff of novels, I’ve seen and interacted with each of these people, and many other characters who are just as colorful, at different times in those eight Starbucks along that nine-mile stretch.

Like a lot of people, I use Starbucks as my office.  I am a self-employed writer and have a home office, but I prefer to work at a coffee shop — which I do every day for eight hours a day — rotating among many different Starbucks to have a change of pace.  For me, working from home is too isolating and it gives me cabin fever.  The buzz of the coffee shop — the music playing over the loudspeakers; the many conversations bubbling around me; the stream of people coming and going — provides an energy that propels me through the day.

I’m not alone in that opinion. Kim Allan Cissel, a musician who played trombone on Paul Simon’s Graceland album, hangs out at one of those eight Starbucks along Ventura Boulevard. Today, he’s sitting there writing an arrangement of the old Charlie Chaplin song, Smile. Occasionally, he picks up the base guitar he brought with him to work out a section; the instrument is looped through his headphones, so he plucks silently, even, ironically, as some of the famous songs he performed on play over the Starbucks loudspeaker.

I ask him  if it’s difficult to work on music in a noisy environment where people are talking and music is playing — especially music like Graceland that he helped to create. “I get distracted,” he says. “I hear the music or a pretty girl walks by and that pulls me out of what I was doing.”

He says, strangely enough, the distractions release his mind. When he works on a composition at home, it’s too quiet and he becomes too focused. The distractions pull him away from the music, and his mind goes to unusual places and comes away with ideas that would not have occurred to him.

He says it gives him “the mind of a beginner,” the Zen Buddhist principle about having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconditions about a subject, even a subject that one is an expert in. “All the distractions here give me the mind of a beginner,” he says. ….


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