Influence over a cup of coffee

Recently I wrote, “Initiating High Impact Relationships.” Today, I’m explaining the easiest, quickest way to positively impact young, undeveloped leaders. It’s buying someone a cup of coffee, a mocha latte, hot chocolate, or diet soda, asking questions and telling a story.

After buying the preferred beverage, start asking about their plans and goals. Where would you like to be in a year, two, or five? If you’re lucky, they won’t have a clue. They’ll give you that “deer in the headlight look,” shift their feet, and silently wonder what the heck you’re after. That’s when you politely pounce.

In my case, I’ll begin the story of my biggest mistake in life. By this time, moving the spotlight from them to me seems to ease their discomfort.

I’ve honed my story to include this statement. “If I could change one thing about the last twenty years and only one, I’d go back and live a vision driven life.” Then I’ll pause, look at them and say, I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

Admittedly, an hour in a coffee shop isn’t the place to develop life-vision. However, I’ve found one “cup-of-coffee-conversation” yields positive results within 60 to 90 days. Within that timeframe I frequently see young, undeveloped leaders begin stepping up in new ways.

Sometimes the conversation is a onetime event. Occasionally, a deeper connection begins. Frankly, I’m not concerned about the outcome. I’m concerned about pouring from my cup into theirs. What happens after that is their opportunity.

Everyone reading this piece is older and more experienced than someone else. Everyone has learned from a mistake. Is it time for you to buy someone a cup of coffee?


Has a short connection had long-term positive impact on your life? Can you suggest other quick, easy techniques that seasoned leaders can employ to pour their experiences into another person’s cup?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell