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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Wake Up ~ It’s National Coffee Day!

Ah, the perfect cup of java.  According to an expert cupper (a professional coffee taster), natl-coffee-2there are four components of a perfect cup: aroma, body, acidity, and flavor.

From the moment the average coffee lover opens a fresh bag of coffee beans, the aroma beckons, percolating the senses. Even those who don’t drink coffee tend to enjoy the fragrance a roasted bean casts.

When determining the body of a coffee, the bean, the roast, and the brew are all factors. The bean affects the texture of the coffee, whether its silky, creamy, thick or thin on the tongue and throat. However, the darker the roast and how it is brewed will alter the feel of a coffee’s body, too. Grandpa’s motor oil blend versus the coffee shop around the corner’s silky smooth, well-practiced grind have entirely different bodies.

natl-coffee-5The region a coffee is grown determines its acidity. The higher the elevation the coffee grows, the higher the quality and the acidity. These coffees are considered brighter, dryer, even sparkling by cuppers.

When it comes down to it, coffee lovers cherish the flavor as well as the caffeinated boost this roasted bean gives morning or night, black or with cream and sugar. Hot or cold it provides enjoyment even when decaffeinated!

There are many legendary accounts of how coffee first came to be, but the earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or the knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries around Mokha in Yemen.  It was here coffee seeds werenatl-coffee-3 first roasted and brewed, much like they are prepared today. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland from Ethiopia and began to cultivate the seed.

In 1670, coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Baba Budan, as he strapped seven coffee seeds onto his chest.  The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore.  It was then that coffee spread to Italy, to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia and the Americas.

Brazil produces more coffee in the world than any other country followed by Colombia.  More than 50 countries around the world grow coffee, providing a delicious variety for the indulgence of steamy cups of the black drink for connoisseurs to consume.natl-coffee-day

Don’t miss out on the discounts and freebies today at restaurants and coffee chains such as Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Additionally, Starbucks will be giving back by donating a coffee tree for every cup of Mexico Chiapas brewed for a customer. You will be enjoying the coffee aroma all day long!

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: Where Are the Jobs?

U.S. Employment Outlook Returns to Post­Recession Strength for Q4 2016 (PRNewsFoto/ManpowerGroup)

TIP TUESDAY: 4 Strategies to Close the Corporate Culture Chasm

(excerpted from an article by Joseph Grenny)
It was time for the annual employee engagement survey and Daniel was eager to see the results from his team. He had a good rapport with his direct reports and had worked hard to foster a good vibe. He was sure his team’s positive scores would serve to show his higher-ups that he was a good leader—someone worth investing in for the long run.

Closing gap on corporate culture

So, imagine Daniel’s surprise when the scores were at the bottom of the well. Not only was he disappointed that his team members felt so disconnected, but he was confused how his perception was so far off. How could he and his reports see things so differently? What was wrong?

Unfortunately, Daniel’s story is typical of many organizations. A new study from VitalSmarts found an alarming gap between what managers say they want their company culture to be and what employees say it really is.

According to the study, leaders describe their culture as one of innovation, initiative, candor, and teamwork. But what employees feel is actually valued is obedience, predictability, deference to authority, and competition with peers.

Why does this matter? A culture chasm has a huge impact on performance. Disheartened employees were 32% less likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to the organization and 26% were less likely to rate their organization as successful at innovating and executing.

So what can leaders do to begin repairing the cultural rifts across teams and organizations? Here are four strategies employers can take to start a candid discussion about their culture chasm:

  • Understand. Before leaders set off to change the company culture, they must be clear about the business reason for doing so. The worst thing they can do is implement a feel-good strategy. This has little impact and creates cynicism among employees. There are hard, measurable reasons for changing the culture, and leaders must articulate them before they embark on their journey.
  • Focus on vital behaviors. Leaders can’t change 10 to 15 behaviors in a company – they can really only focus on a vital two or three. Choose the behaviors that will have the biggest impact on performance and stick with them. Google recently completed a comprehensive study to find the link between culture and team performance. The study, dubbed Project Aristotle, revealed the key vital behaviors of perfect teams. The two norms that made the biggest difference in the Google research were: Active Participation and Psychological Safety. In the best teams, members spoke up and participated. And this participation came as a result of feeling welcome, valued, and secure within the team.
  • Listen deeply. Before leaders can change the culture, they must know where they stand with their employees. Engage with employees who know best. Pair up and meet with groups of eight to 10 employees. Spend at least an hour asking open-ended questions like, “What advice would you give a friend if they came to work here?”
  • Take action. Listening creates expectations. Once employees take a risk to share their perceptions, they start to watch to see if leaders were really listening or just checking off a box. They want to see evidence. Leaders should pick a couple of valued and visible concerns and address them quickly to build trust in leaders’ sincerity to make changes.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: First Chewing Gum Produced Sept. 23, 1848

gum-john-b-curtisJohn Bacon Curtis (October 10, 1827 – June 13, 1897) was an American businessman and inventor and the first gumcommercial gum producer. On Sept. 28, 1848, Curtis and his father experimented with the first manufacture of chewing gum sticks. They “cooked up” spruce chewing gum atop a Franklin stove, which was then poured it into a tub of ice water and strained. The gum was sold in sticks one centimeter wide and two centimeters long, wrapped in tissue paper, and marketed as “State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum.”

At first, sales were slow because people didn’t known much about the new gum, so Curtis traveled throughout New England and became a commercial sales traveler. Curtis and his family moved their chewing gum business to larger facilities at Portland, Maine, and founded a new firm, “Curtis & Son” with his father.

gum-buildingThe new company thrived, and business grew to more than 200 employees. Curtis developed a machine to mass produce gum and his factory turned out 1,800 boxes of chewing gum a day.

In the mid-19th century there was big competition in the U.S. chewing gum market. In 1850, Curtis added paraffin gums to the company’s product line. The addition of sugar produced the gum with a sweet taste, and flavored paraffin gums became more popular than spruce gums.

The Curtis & Son Company’s chewing gum manufacturing process is still used today. The website ChewingGumFacts lists 13 types of chewing gum on the market today, along with other interesting facts and trivia.

WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: The Countdown

countdown-100a

This Friday, September 23 begins the 100-day countdown to the end of the year.