Day 121

by Rebecca Cochran

Bach logo

At the beginning of 2016, I began a personal experiment. I call it My Year of Bach. As a flutist, for as long as I can remember, Johann Sebastian Bach has been my favorite composer. I’ve written about Bach several times here in this space.

I decided to challenge myself by writing a short daily post on some aspect of Bach and his music. Otherwise, I didn’t set too many more rules. Like I said, this is an experiment, and I think we all need to experiment more.

My original goals were these:

  • Post daily
  • Learn as I go
  • Share what I learn
  • Enjoy myself

Now, 4 months in, I can report that I’ve achieved my original goals and more! I have posted daily, mostly “living in the moment,” rather than writing and scheduling posts ahead of time. This approach challenges me to be more observant, remaining on “high alert” for anything even remotely related to Bach that crosses my path each day. I’m conducting quick research, online and off. I’m asking more questions. I’m starting conversations with strangers. I’m listening more intently and attending more concerts and recitals. What I discover today will probably end up in tomorrow’s post. Bach is everywhere.

I’m learning to write more quickly. And, more importantly, I’m learning to trust what I write, rather than second-guessing myself. (There’s no time for that!)

I’m maintaining focus. Rather than going down rabbit holes in search of photos to accompany my posts, I’m staying focused on my writing.

I’m learning a great deal about my favorite composer. Every day, I seem to have yet another “aha moment” about some aspect of JSB. The more I learn about Bach, the more I want to learn.

In sharing my daily posts via Twitter, I am making new friends all over the world. I’m receiving wonderful comments (“Thank you, your latest post has helped me finish my term paper!”), great questions (“How do you recommend I start building a Bach listening library?”) and words of encouragement (“Wow! Keep up the good work; I know you can make it to Day 366!”).

Most importantly of all, I’m having fun!

Walking Backwards

BackwardsDid you ever try walking backwards? I did the other day. Well, not actually walking backwards…

I take a walk daily. I’ve been doing so since I was a little girl. It feels so good, so natural and it’s such a simple way to exercise my body and my mind.

The other day, on a whim, I decided to start at the end of my usual route and walk from there to where I usually begin my walk. I know…that wasn’t exactly rocket science, but it was interesting to take in everything in reverse, to see the “backs” of things: trees, buildings, signs, everything.

As I “reverse-walked,” I couldn’t help but see things differently. I spied a hidden garden that I’d never noticed before. I saw sunlight glistening on a building, giving it a dazzling glow that I’d been missing all those years I’d been approaching from the opposite direction. And, I couldn’t help thinking that I should walk backwards more often, literally and figuratively.

What might I be missing each time I start a project at “the beginning”? Could I achieve a better result if I started somewhere in “the middle” or, even, at “the end”?

Could I be a better problem solver if I consciously worked backwards? By clearly defining what the end result should be, could I reverse-engineer the steps needed to reach that goal?

Certainly, as a musician, I recall teachers suggesting that the best way to learn a piece of music is to “learn it backwards.” In other words, start from the final measure, then append and learn a few prior measures, little by little, until you find your way back to the beginning. This works particularly well when memorizing anything.

Might I be more creative if I consciously “work backwards” more often? It’s incredibly easy to fall into the habit of sticking to a system, especially when that system has been working well for a long time. If I reverse my creative process, might my results be, dare I say it, more creative?

The simple exercise of taking my walk from “back to front” has reminded me that there is more than one way to approach a problem, reach a goal or generate a new idea.

I need to practice walking backwards more often.

What analogies can you add to this list?

by Rebecca Cochran

10 Tips for Networking at Starbucks

CafeI love coffee. I love strong, bold coffee. Starbucks is my cup of choice. I head over to my corner location every morning, rain, sleet, snow or shine. But, it’s not just about the coffee…

For me, it’s also about networking. As a small business owner, Starbucks has become an integral part of my workday. By spending a mere 10 minutes at Starbucks each morning, I’ve grown my business exponentially.

Here are 10 insider tips for making Starbucks your killer networking app:

  1. Choose well. Scope out various Starbucks locations to determine the best fit for what you want to accomplish. If you want to network with business owners, choose a location in an area close to (or enroute to) the types of companies you wish to do business with. Chances are, those business owners are making a coffee stop, too.
  2. Be consistent. Once you select your prime location, visit it consistently. When you become a regular, you’ll begin to develop relationships with other regulars.
  3. Scope out your prospects. Not unlike how we learn to observe and listen as we develop our social networking strategies, I recommend observing and listening to other Starbucks customers for a while. This will help you determine who the regulars are, who your first networking targets might be and how to approach them.
  4. Make your first move at the bar. Of course, I’m referring to the condiments bar. In the short time that it takes to add cream and sugar to your cup, you can break the ice with many an interesting prospect. “Coffee: my one and only vice” works well for me. You may only get a grunt or a “have a nice day” out of the prospect at first, but considering most people are rushing off to the office, that’s a great start.
  5. Repeat daily. Continue to “break the ice” with new prospects. Keep your pipeline full. With one such encounter daily, your pipeline will fill quickly.
  6. Move up. At a second encounter, move up to a simple “Good morning,” as a way to acknowledge that you and your prospect now have a relationship.
  7. Advance to a higher level. With a quickly filling pipeline, you’ll soon recognize opportunities to advance the conversation to an even higher level. By your third or fourth encounter, you can offer a handshake and introduce yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be exchanging business cards.
  8. Vary your arrival time. As stated earlier, when it comes to networking, consistency is key. But, it pays to vary your arrival time occasionally by +/- fifteen minutes. This will help to broaden your prospect pool and allow for more repeat encounters.
  9. Make friends with your barista. Busy though they may be in the morning, the baristas can be some of your strongest networking allies. They know most of their customers by name and therefore, can help you out in the rare instance that you forget a name or two from your growing group of prospects.
  10. Sit down. (This tip is for advanced networkers only.) Yes, I’m actually advocating that, rather than rushing off down the street with cup in hand, after leaving the condiment bar, you sit at a table and enjoy your coffee for 10 minutes. It’s a pretty simple habit to get into. Think of what 10 minutes of networking daily could do for your business. Pretty soon, you’ll be deducting your coffee costs as a true business expense!