So many conversations take place at the local coffee houses and cafés. These places have come to mean so much to us. Often we take pride in their success and even a sense of ownership as they become a part of our day.

Ode to the Local Coffee House


It’s My own place


Where I find…


My own moment…
My own drink…
My own dish…
My own seat…


It’s My place


To rest… To restore…
To receive smiles and more…


A place of contentment…
A place without judgement…


I arrive here for Me time…
I am here to just be…


At My own place…
My Moment to be Free


© 2014 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


Author Kevin T. McCarney Big Brain PresentationAuthor Kevin T. McCarney delivered a presentation at the Buena Vista Library in Burbank, CA Wednesday March 19, 2014. Attendee Bill Motz shared the photos above adding, “Big Brain, Little Brain. Our friend Kevin sharing insights with business leaders gleaned from a lifetime of customer service.”


Fratisha  is a little lady with a big presence.

There may not be a college major or graduate degree in Great Customer Service, but I often see lessons in this art being taught by everyday people.  They can teach us all something about how to handle customers in a service environment.

If you have never been to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood, it is worth a visit. An extremely affordable experience and you are very likely to observe the effects of good communication.

On any Friday night, and many other nights, there can be fifty or more people outside, along the skinny sidewalk, waiting up to an hour or more to get a table inside. Yes, for chicken and waffles. And as the hunger of those waiting grows, customers make continual visits to the outdoor hostess podium, seeking information about how long before it’s their turn.

Fratisha was the hostess on the evening I visited, and it was an object lesson in how a smile and a pleasant tone can win over even the most frustrated and hungry diners.

I was fascinated watching Fratisha, this little lady, handle the carnivores who were  eager to consume the crunchy fried chicken and  butter-smothered waffles inside.

While greeting new arrivals, Fratisha extended a genuine care for the “Are we there yet?” folks. And each time, she exuded a sense of We-have-this-under-control confidence that left inquirers comforted, knowing they were in good hands.

Crowd control is difficult enough, but dealing with a hungry crowd raises the stakes.

Fratisha handled everyone with the same friendly eye contact, smile and courtesy, even if the visitor to her podium was not in the best of moods and offered a “What about me?” attitude.

You never know where you will encounter a true expert. Customer service expertise is something for which there is no formal education, but perhaps there should be. Customer service is an art, a science and a performance all rolled into one.

This evening’s lesson came from Roscoe’s, so we extend an honorary Big Brain M.C.S. (Masters in Customer Sevice) to Fratisha, a Big Brain Customer Service Award winner. Well done.

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles
1514 North Gower Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90028
TEL. (323) 466-7453

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big™

©2014 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


I frequent a local restaurant that serves great food. It also has a beautiful display of merchandise, books and knick-knacks.

One book caught my eye; It was a large book that had great information and pictures of food and restaurants in a city far away. So I thought I would buy it.  Then I heard the Groupon/Amazon voice inside my head, in a deep echoey tone saying, “You can get it cheaper online… probably pay 20%  less”.

The coupon mentality has taken the country by storm. It seems everyone is out for a deal. Rarely a day goes by when the idea of getting a deal on something or buying below retail is not important.  And the mantra “Cheaper online” is everywhere.

For a moment that argument had made up my mind. I would wait to get it online. But then a bigger question took over. Is online really cheaper?

This small restaurant I enjoy so much was created by someone with a vision for quality. She took a chance, risking everything, to make her dream a reality. Here is a lady who spent her own money to open a restaurant and create a space so many now flock to every day. By not buying the book from her just to be “smarter” by going online to get a better price, I realized, was kind of short sighted. Who do I want to invest in? A super-large mega-stores with billions in profits, or a local merchant who puts her energy and life into my community?

We hear so much about sustainability and we all love to use the buzzwords of today… ‘Sustainable’, ‘Local’, ‘Environmentally Friendly’ and a dozen more. All great things if they can be achieved, most having to do with food. But what are we feeding our Neighborhoods?

What about the sustainability of the local merchant? What about the sustainability of the local entrepreneur? Is buying the book online undermining the neighborhood business? This is not to say the ‘big guys’ are bad… they are not.  It’s not like the mega stores will ever get anything but more mega. But it is time to recognize that the true value of the local merchant cannot be calculated by price alone.

Perhaps we can take a moment to realize how important the local stores are to our neighborhood.  Perhaps we can realize that we have a ‘Neighborhood Footprint’ as well as a carbon footprint and that the more we invest in our local entrepreneurs the stronger our neighborhoods become.

Yes, I bought the book at the restaurant. And though I may continue to shop online for things I cannot find locally, I now have a different way of looking at the price: “Buying online means I am not investing in my neighborhood.”

Mega-stores have to ship the books by planes and trucks for thousands of miles. Isn’t that impacting the carbon footprint? Isn’t it environmentally responsible to buy the book locally? What does your Neighborhood Footprint look like?  How many of the local merchants offering the same service online do you support?

Value can be measured in many ways. Sometimes ‘cheaper’ is actually more costly.

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2014 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


People find out what kind of person you are by the way you retell stories of events. They read sarcasm and superiority like a book.

People understand that the way you retell an encounter about someone else is likely how you will retell an encounter with them.

Retelling is either gossip or information. The difference between the two is the Tone and the truth of the retelling, which builds a Legacy of Trust.

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There’s an old saying that couples can use when they want to be alone: “Two’s company. Three’s a crowd.” In a professional setting, two people are never truly alone, so perhaps a more accurate saying would be, “Two’s company. Three’s an audience.”

Untrustworthy is a Little Brain TrapHave you ever found yourself in the midst of a very nice conversation with someone, when you are joined by a third person? The person you were just talking to often begins to alter their behavior. When a third person joins, we often go from speaking in ‘individual’ mode to ‘audience posturing’ mode and the conversation becomes more guarded, more politically correct.

The reason for the change is that the new person brings with them a different level of Trust. We immediately start thinking about who this new person knows and we start wondering whether this conversation will reach others.

The ‘three’s an audience’ rule is something to be aware of in ourselves as well as in others. If we change too much from our individual conversational demeanor, others may perceive us as disingenuous. And doing anything that potentially damages others’ Trust in us is a Little Brain Trap. Conversely, being sincere and consistent with others ensures a Legacy of Trust. Much like the Bad Gossip Trap (see page 109), a reputation of being untrustworthy is something you’ll have to carry around in your Little Brain Baggage.

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


More Trust

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Every good leader relies on quality list-making and task-tracking. Done correctly, this type of organization can extend beyond simple “to do” lists, providing business leaders with the powerful Big Brain tools they need to maintain excellent relationships and ensure successful communication.

What are we tracking, and how do we track it? Here are three helpful tools to give yourself an advantage in building and maintaining excellent relationships:

In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the idea of Dunbar’s number, which refers to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships — generally around 150 people. While 150 not seem like a large number, this actually requires a tremendous amount of relationship awareness.

Facebook lets users update just one Relationship Status, typically one’s significant other. We actually see this as a powerful tool we can use in the real world, to track the status of every relationship we have. So we developed a Big Brain Worksheet to increase your awareness of each these connections. This simple worksheet has just three columns, and you can create one yourself with a blank sheet of paper. Here’s how:

  • Once a month, make a list in the left-hand column, of five people you feel might require some of your attention. Perhaps your Last Impression was a poor one. Perhaps too much time has passed since your last encounter, or maybe you need to use The Apology Tool. Whatever your reasons, you will instinctively identify the five colleagues who will top your list.
  • When this is completed, take a moment with each name to identify the current status of that relationship. Put this information in the center column. By virtue of inclusion on your monthly list, surely the relationship status could be improved. But would you characterize the Relationship Status as “Bad”, “It’s complicated” or “Needs Attention”?
  • Finally, use the right-hand column to note upcoming opportunities to improve the status of each relationship. And, if there are no upcoming opportunities, you will need to create the opportunity. Whether it’s a phone call or a lunch date, truly successful people know how to take the lead and work to improve their relationships.


In a recent article, Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor Mary E. Neil confirms “Good deeds, positive thinking a daily goal“. For those who use a journal or daily planner, she suggests documenting a “Good Deed for the Day”. Mary sees this as a way to be good to yourself, “because it reduces stress and allows you to move on in a positive way.” Tracking good deeds also leads to increased mindfulness and likelihood of performing even more good deeds. Regular readers are aware of our “Live Big – Think Big – Give Big” campaign, and already know what a positive impact this behavior can have.


Understanding how gossip works can teach us a lesson about workplace chatter. Everybody hears everything, so we can use this model of how information travels to our advantage. We can use a technique called Good Gossip to have a positive impact on the workplace. Saying something nice behind someone’s back will have a ripple effect. The people who are talked about during Good Gossip will hear about it. Maybe not right away, but they will hear about it.

One of the many Big Brain Worksheets we utilize during presentations allows attendees to track and implement the Good Gossip Tool. You can try it for yourself: Simply submit your Email address and we will automatically send you a link to download this free worksheet.

None of these tools are difficult to use, and all of them take very little time to implement. But the results will very likely astonish you. Plus, when you complete your worksheet consistently, you will find that the content of the lists change each and every month. When that happens, you’ll be designing your future encounters instead of reacting to them.

What are some tools you use for successful communication and to maintain excellent relationships? Share your story with us. We want to hear from you!

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


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In an article published today “Is a discount worth giving up your online privacy?“, online security expert Hemu Nigam writes of a fascinating new marketing effort being developed by Target and Facebook. Branded Cartwheel, the partnership encourages Facebook users to redeem promotions and savings rewards in Target stores.

Cartwheel “has the potential to become one of the most successful social media advertising opportunities in recent history,” writes Nigam.

“Despite its appeal, users will be expected to pay a price for these discounts — a cost measured in privacy rather than dollars.”

We call this new model of commerce Data Cows, as consumers are increasingly willing to trade their private, personal data as currency for some real or perceived value. It started with “Free” smart phone apps, and Target and Facebook have taken this concept in a startling new direction.

Data Cows - Facebook and Target's Cartwheel

Facebook and Target want you to pay with personal data, not dollars.

“No doubt this will spark a debate over what is more important, privacy or money,” Nigam states. “As more and more people get used to it — and online users always do — this form of corporate advertising could become commonplace and, thus, more accepted.”

What do you think? Is this troubling, or just the inevitable evolution of commerce in the digital age? Share your story with us. We want to hear from you!

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


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I attended a conference recently where a social media person working for a big retail company bragged about how easy her job is. She explained that most of what she does involves trolling smaller competitors’ social channels to “borrow” their ideas:

“Most of [our competitors] will never know, and if anybody makes an issue, we know they can’t afford to fight us.”

She went on to boast about her company’s marketing budget and how easily they are able to suppress anyone who dares to speak up.

An end to ethics and fair play?

As this digital communication age progresses, I question whether our desire for more Twitter followers, Retweets and Facebook Likes has damaged the concept of business ethics. As a society, we seem fixated on metrics and our competitive ratings across social media channels.

This conference also made it clear that, despite marketers calling it something different, the manipulation of data collected on consumers in order to track, follow and even trick them into purchasing decisions has become a major business. For consumers, this begs the question again: With ‘Free’ Apps, Are We Just Data Cows?

Most of the emphasis seems to be not on communicating with the consumer, but the use of data to influence the consumer. Former American President Lyndon B. Johnson once observed, “The best fertilizer for a piece of land is the footprints of its owner.” As new and as fancy as these emerging customer tracking technologies are, nothing can replace a simple conversation with your customer.

Also read: “Customer Service: Survey Says

Do you think of your customers in terms of numbers, conversions and ROI? How important are broad customer metrics, in terms of business decision-making, and how far are you willing to go to get customer data? It might be wise to consider ethics versus metrics, and which one is more important in your company.

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


More Blogs about Digital Communication


Thinking Big is something we believe makes everyone’s life a little better. As we see things throughout the year that identify Big Brain Moments, we will highlight those individuals’ efforts in our Blog series, Live Big – Think Big – Give Big. Individuals like High Schooler Jonathon Montanez, who showed the world what it means to Think Big. Get out your handkerchiefs. Opposing player helps disabled athlete fulfill a dream

Mitchell is a developmentally disabled locker room manager for a high school basketball team. He is not a regular player for the team but he loves basketball. During one of the final games of the season, Mitchell’s coach decided he would change Mitchell’s life. The Coach told him to suit up. Mitchell was on the bench until the last few minutes, when the coach put Mitchell in to play. A dream come true.

Mitchell’s teammates tried in vain to give Mitchell a chance to score a basket, feeding him several opportunities. But Mitchell’s shots just missed each time. One last pass to Mitchell went out of bounds, turning over possession to the other team and effectively ending Mitchell’s chance to score.

Or so it seemed.

Jonathan Montanez, a young man playing for the opposing team, prepared to in-bound the ball so his team could score once more before the buzzer. Instead, Jonathan thought for a moment and called out to Mitchell. Jonathan in-bounded the ball to Mitchell with just seconds left on the clock. “He shoots… he scores!” This time the ball went in. As it passed the bottom of the net, one of the most precious moments in sports gave birth to a standing, jumping and screaming ovation from everyone in attendance. Both teams took pride in Mitchell’s moment of glory.

The buzzer officially ending the game was inaudible over the outpouring of emotion for this one individual. Actually this game, this moment, this time in sports will never end for the people who were there or for those of us who get to witness it.

Watch and enjoy the Moment.

Be sure to share Big Brain Moments you see, so we may share them with others.

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.



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