In Business: Choose Friendly!

My twitterfriend Hans recently asked:

Is it true that “doing the right thing” may not be as good in the short-term but is usually the right decision for the long-term? What about in business?

The answer is unequivocally yes, yes, YES!

Here’s a case in point: I spend a lot of time at Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Co. The Greenlake location is my usual haunt, but this morning I came to the University location to meet a coworker. At UZ, there’s this big sign above the dish bucket:

Zoka Sign

I’m saddened by this. The people at Zoka have been the friendliest coffee-shop crowd I’ve ever known, which is part of the reason why I spend so much time there. (The excellent coffee and free Wi-Fi are the other reasons). But this sign would drive Seth Godin crazy. It’s exactly the wrong thing to do in the long term. The big underlined part brings out the wrong emotional response — it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, or that I should consider myself lucky to be a customer.

I know that some jerks occasionally leave half their sandwich in the bucket. Mustard gets on your hands.  Life sucks that way. But don’t damage your goodwill and reputation for friendliness by putting up a scolding sign.

If I were Jeff Babcock I’d get rid of this sign ASAP.

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1 Response to “In Business: Choose Friendly!”


  1. 1 Damon February 26, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Dislike Seth Godin, really liked the post. All the hard work of building up a good brand put at risk by a stupid little sign. Another 100 posts like this and you’ll be able to publish your own Seth Godin book.


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