Worshiping with Popcorn

popcorn“Worshiping with popcorn?Has Alex run out of worthy blog topics?”

Nope, this may just be one of my best yet…

The country is Brazil. The protagonist is 36-year-old Valdir Novaki—used to be an itinerant farm laborer, a newsagent, then a car park driver. Now he’s a
Popcorn Entrepreneur.

Hey, Alex, what about the “worshiping”?

Worshiping?

Oh, yeah, in just a second…

On the site I discovered him, GlobalVoices, they say:

“Despite the fact that Valdir only had the opportunity to finish elementary school, he now coaches students and business people of all ranks. For just over a year, Valdir has travelled around Brazil giving motivational lectures, entrepreneurship tips, and maybe some inspiration.”

Vladir even has a website, PipocadoValdir. Check it out! This is no mere popcorn man. He even gives his customers a “hygiene kit” with a napkin, a toothpick and a mint candy.
hygiene_kit
You can also watch the five news videos about his business by clicking the Valdir na Mídia link; and, the real kicker is the slowmotion video of popcorn popping!!

Here’s my favorite quote from Valdir:

“Oh, every day I’m in a good mood. And the key thing is to look back in hindsight. If we look back in hindsight, you will see that there are people [living in] much worse [conditions] than us. I’m healthy, I’m working, my family is not in need… So, it is only joy! Thus we overcome difficulties! I have always a smile on my face because, as I always say, the smile is the shortest distance between two people. And for me to be a popcorn seller, I have to be happy.”

O.K., Alex, he’s a great guy who’s conquered many obstacles in life and maintained a happy attitude, he’s an innovative entrepreneur and respects his larger social responsibilities… What about “Worshiping”?!

Oh, right. Check out this quote…

Spiritual Quote:

“The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 176

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An Ethical Business Press Release

“A WAKE” FOR JAVA STREET CAFÉ

java_street_cafe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sam Lippert
Tel: 937-294-5280
Cell Phone: 734-301-0089

Nationally Recognized Café Will Keep The Doors Open For Three Days Straight

It may be the end of the line for Java Street Café in Kettering, Ohio, at least at its present location. Grabbing attention from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and three local channels back in March for taking all the prices off the menu, even showing a steady 13% increase in sales since that bold move, hasn’t been enough for the landlord. The Café is slated to close its doors at 6pm, Saturday, April 11th.

“The new policy has been a success.”, says Sam Lippert, the owner, “Unfortunately, we have obligations, including back rent, from the old business model that seem to be derailing the whole thing.”

Lippert had hoped that, with the success of the new business model, the landlord, B. R. Kettering Towne Center, LLC, located in California, would be convinced to have a little more patience. “It obviously didn’t work”, said Lippert, “I was informed that I had to leave the premises to avoid legal action. Even though my sales are climbing, I’m out of resources. I need to make the new business model as plain as day with the numbers I have. Then, I need about $40,000 to pay my obligations, secure a new location, and get rolling again.” Sam continues, “What I’m doing here has touched people from as far away as Toronto and Salt Lake City, has sparked interest in the business community, and is still expanding its presence in the blogosphere. It would be a shame to see it come to a complete end before it has a chance to significantly prove itself.”

So, from 7am on Thursday, April 9th until 6pm on Saturday, April 11th, Sam will keep the doors open for business. He said, “This continuous operation, 24/3, will be our Wake for this incarnation of Java Street Café. It will also help me make payroll and raise awareness about the “Fair Price” business model. I may be under the gun right now, but this business plan works and I’m going to do everything I can to make it keep happening.”

###

If you’d like more information about this topic, or would like to schedule an interview, tender suggestions, or offer assistance, call Sam Lippert at 937-294-5280 or Cell at 734-301-0089.

~~~~~~~~~

Previous Posts about Java Street Café:

Business Ethics?
Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy
Sam’s Interview On CNN

~~~~~~~~~
One final thought:

Incompetent bankers can get billions. One ethical, main street
business man finds it extremely difficult to find thousands…

Spiritual Quote:

“In collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Bahá’í Business Forum, a voluntary association of Bahá’í business professionals, recently produced a joint working paper entitled “Socially Responsible Enterprise Restructuring.” The report has served as a basis for several training sessions organized by the ILO and has been disseminated to governments, employers associations and workers’ organizations throughout the world. The European Bahá’í Business Forum has also conducted a series of seminars on business ethics in eastern Europe and has formed an educational partnership with AIESEC, one of the largest organizations of business students in the world.

“As a practical step in contributing to a dialogue about development and social transformation that explicitly takes account of spiritual values and perspectives, some 100 influential development organizations, international and government agencies, religious representatives, and academics recently gathered in New Delhi to participate in a colloquium on the theme of Science, Religion and Development. The primary goal of the event was to explore how a unified interaction between scientific methods and religious insights can promote the building of human capacity, particularly in the areas of governance, education, technology and economic activity. The event was organized by the Bahá’í community of India and the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, a research agency of the Bahá’í International Community. At the global level, Bahá’ís have also been involved in the very constructive World Faiths Development Dialogue between the World Bank and major religions.”
Bahá’í International Community, 2001 May 28-31, Overcoming Corruption in Public Institutions

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Business Ethics ?

Breaking News !

business_ethicsIf a business owner falls behind on their rent because of the lousy economic climate, yet creates a new business model that successfully meets the crisis, should the landlord evict them before they can recoup losses and pay the rent?

Back on the 18th of March, I posted the story of Sam Lippert and the Java Street Café, in Kettering, Ohio—Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy. That was in the midst of the first media blitz because of Sam’s creative commitment to taking all the prices off his menu and letting the customer determine their own fair price. Here’s the link to the live CNN interview with Sam from that post.

That seemingly crazy idea worked, very well!  Sam’s sales quickly increased. Before he implemented the no-price policy, he was tracking last year’s sales dead-even. Since implementing it, his sales are 13% higher than last year. Comparing March to January and February, his sales are up 32%. And, if that’s not enough proof, a food supplier informed Sam that, due to his good example, 15 restaurants in Michigan have adopted the no-price policy…

So…

On the 31st of March, the landlord called and said an eviction notice would be sent the week of April 6th.

Admittedly, the landlord is within their legal rights yet, in this business climate, why would they be willing to kick Java Street Café out when they’re clearly showing their ability to weather the economic storm and thrive in spite of it? Do they feel they can quickly fill the space with another business in this economic downturn? Do they care? Is it possible they don’t give a ____ about Sam’s ability to thrive and pay his debt because they can write it all off and “balance” their books with not a thought about what ethics in business means?

Speaking of business ethics, Sam, in the midst of crushing economic circumstances, made a commitment to a business model that put the customer in the driver’s seat—gave the customer a chance to afford that cup of coffee or sandwich they may have been otherwise unable to justify purchasing.

Take a look at Sam’s latest Press Release

By the way, Sam is open to offering Franchise Opportunities – Call him at: 937-294-5280

My final question:

Who wins if the landlord kicks Sam out?

Spiritual Quote:

“He feels you should both consider the competent running of your business not only a moral obligation to any creditors outstanding, but also the wise and proper thing to do.”
from a letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí: 6 June 1954, Compilation on Trustworthiness

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Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy

no_price_cafeI hang out at a local café (you may have noticed I use many imaginative dialogues at the beginning of posts and they’re almost always in a café). I also do some of my own work at the café plus volunteering a little marketing and promotion—basically, I like the place.

However, this creeping, crawling economic downturn (aka recession or crunch) hit the owner of Java Street Café  pretty hard. I’ve spent hours talking business with him and watched as a bright and friendly man became progressively morose and extremely exhausted (when a business has hard times, paying employees becomes a problem and the owner has to not only run the business but literally Work  it).

Months went by, things getting worse, while the owner, Sam, in spite of the grueling conditions, continued  to try various ideas to attract customers…

Finally, last week, an idea he’d been experimenting with became a what-the-hell—”I can’t lose more than I already have”—Decision:

Take All The Prices Off The Menu—let people pay whatever they  feel is a Fair Price!

Sam had his back against the wall, he was willing to try just about anything, and he “happened” to choose and made a commitment to act  on what could seem like a very crazy idea…

That was last week…

Since then, he’s been interviewed on CNN twice, phone interviewed on MSNBC and Fox, appeared on all four of the local channels, been on three out-of-state radio talk shows, will be appearing in a morning cooking segment on the local Fox affiliate, and received calls of thanks from three other states and Canada…

As if that weren’t enough, the blogosphere is starting to warm up to the story and it’s on the edge of tipping into the viral realm.

Why?

Because it’s “crazy” and unusual?

Nope.

That may have been the initial and conscious decision of the media but, after watching it happen and, especially, watching his customers react, the real and deeper reason for all the interest certainly seems to be related to a nearly archaic principle—Business Ethics…

Sam’s customer’s have a variety of reactions when he takes their order then says, “O.K., what do you think is a fair price for what you just ordered ?”:

“Huh?”

“Me?”

“What’s your usual price?”

“Oh, my! I have to think  about it?”

“You’re kidding, right?

Sam’s not kidding, they do have to think about it, his “usual” price is now “your price”, and, when the day is done, the under-payers and the over-payers even out and he’s collecting what he used to get when he had prices…

Of all the various reactions, my personal favorite, and the one that sings  of ethics in business during hard times, is what the woman from Missouri said, when she called to thank Sam for his decision:

“After I saw the story on CNN, I cried…”

Spiritual Quote:

“As a practical step in contributing to a dialogue about development and social transformation that explicitly takes account of spiritual values and perspectives, some 100 influential development organizations, international and government agencies, religious representatives, and academics recently gathered in New Delhi to participate in a colloquium on the theme of Science, Religion and Development. The primary goal of the event was to explore how a unified interaction between scientific methods and religious insights can promote the building of human capacity, particularly in the areas of governance, education, technology and economic activity.”
2001 Jun 11, Universal House of Justice, Overcoming Corruption

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Money and Value

Money doesn’t always equal value.

These news items are about the United States but what’s happening there is impacting the global economy . . .

From The New York Times: Worried Banks Sharply Reduce Business Loans “Banks struggling to recover from multibillion-dollar losses on real estate are curtailing loans to American businesses, depriving even healthy companies of money for expansion and hiring.”

From the Economist: Inflation or deflation? “The markets have become incredibly volatile as investors vacillate between these outcomes.”

From the BBC: Record deficit for next president “The next US president is expected to face a record federal budget deficit of almost half a trillion dollars.”

Economics used to seem as opaque as metaphysics to me. Then, as I hit the middle of middle-age, it became apparent I was studying the economics that businesses use, that nations use, that politicians manipulate.

The economics that has squandered vast quantities of non-renewable resources.

The economics that keeps certain people away from creativity, away from a decent livelihood.

The economics that spawns wars and utterly brutal treatment of innocent civilians !

I don’t want to start ranting so here are some spiritual quotes to ponder:

“The repudiation of national right and power to make war represents the first step toward mutual wealth and sound economy. Short of a world economy mankind will not achieve the fruits of civilization.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

“Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicates a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility affecting the political realm.”
The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 102

“…participants in the informal sector of the economy, women in particular, must be involved in reconceptualizing economics altogether, both theory and practice. If women have a unique approach to economic activity, it would most likely be apparent in the largely unstructured informal sector of the economy. For example, preliminary findings in an on-going study of women industrial sub-contractors in Malaysia, show that the business objectives of the majority of women sub-contractors are defined not so much in monetary terms as in terms of values.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Women in the Informal Sector in Malaysia

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Big Green Purse ~ A Book & A Crusade

image credit

What realizes and promotes the fact that 85 cents of every dollar spent in the marketplace is spent by a woman and that big business responds faster to consumer demand than any other market force?

Answer:

Grist, an environmental journalism site, has a compelling article on the book Big Green Purse and its author, Diane MacEachern, a longtime conservationist.

Just a few Q&As from the riveting interview:

question There’s this notion out there that you can save the world by buying all this stuff — as long as it’s green.

answer In every single chapter, the very first suggestion is buy less, consume less, reduce — clearly we have to cut back on the total amount of stuff that’s being produced. But I do think that being a conscious consumer is a very powerful tool, because consumer dollars are the lifeblood of manufacturers. So we can either use them to tell manufacturers what to make or we can just continue to let manufacturers tell us what to buy.

question Do you feel like environmentalists have been too quick to dismiss shopping as a route to change?

answer I think that the power of green consumerism has not been harnessed by the environmental movement. You’ve got all kinds of companies wanting to be green and natural and eco-friendly, and you’ve got the environmental movement saying, “Whatever you do, don’t buy anything.” … The light bulbs are a perfect example … people have to change their light bulbs anyway, so why not buy the option that makes the most sense? If you have people sit in the dark, that’s literally a turn-off.

question Does your book address the challenges of buying green on a budget?

answer First of all, there’s so much cushion in people’s budget that they don’t realize. People will say to me, “I can’t buy organic; it’s too expensive,” and then I look in their refrigerator and it’s full of bottled water. They may be spending $10 to $15 a week on bottled water, but they don’t want to spend $6 for a gallon of organic milk.

question How can the environmental movement change its message to be more effective?
answer I do think some groups are doing a pretty good job in starting to provide information … but now I think the next step is to start getting the message out to people who aren’t necessarily in the environmental community. We don’t need to talk to other environmentalists; we need to talk to garden clubs and women’s clubs and church groups and all these people who are not as fully aware of what the opportunity is.

What would be great is if Safeway would put an environmental spokesperson in the store. “On Saturday, as you’re coming through the store, there’s going to be these five people wearing green vests, and if you have any questions about green shopping, you can ask them.” Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Business . . . (as usual?)

I’ve recently begun a business that makes me an entrepreneur. The linked article from Wikipedia says, “Entrepreneurs often have strong beliefs about a market opportunity and organize their resources effectively to accomplish an outcome that changes existing interactions.”

Marketing? And, you call yourself a spiritual person, Mr. Zoltai?”

Well…

Howard Rheingold said, “Markets are as old as the crossroads.”

And, tonight, in a business training seminar, Brett Rademacher said, “Life is a moving market.”

Nothing happens without someone selling something.

“What?”

Consider this:

Did you ever pursue someone for a date?

Did you have the date?

You must have sold them on the idea . . .