In just 3 minutes, what Starbucks and a hotel can teach us.

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA
3 min readAug 24, 2022

Tip # 4. The start of a new school year is a great time to retell these two little vignettes — stories I’ve collected over the years.

Over the years, I’ve trained myself to notice stuff. To be a pretty good observer. For example, I look at signs in stores or offices, mottos, what staff members say — to tell me if the company/store/school/autobody shop/or whatever, is a great one…. or not so much.

Here are two examples — one great one and one not so much. See what you think!

First, the great Starbucks message about pride.

I was in a hotel lobby a while ago (pre-Covid) that had a Starbucks concession. Above the counter was their sign, “We proudly brew Starbucks!”

HMMM. Corny maybe, but that motto has stayed with me. As I see it, it’s powerful not just for the customer, but also for staff members — its repetition may help them take ownership and pride in their work. Some may call that agency, as well.

So, I started thinking… Why not bring it — pride — to our schools! Why not ask or train school folks to say, “We proudly give your child a great education” or “We proudly work so your child gets a FAPE (free appropriate public education)” or whatever…

Though it may sound or feel corny at first, say it often enough and it may sink in. And, because words have power, it’ll become powerful and become real.

Second, the not so great one — “They or we” or “How NOT to empower or train staff”.

Here’s my short not-so-great interchange with the receptionist at that hotel.

I went to the front desk (a well-known and well-regarded hotel, part of a large national chain, whose name I’ll not share). I had stayed there earlier, on another speaking tour.

So, I said to the receptionist, “You’ve updated the rooms since the last time I was here, haven’t you?”

She answered, “Yes, I believe they have 2 years ago.”

BOO! Oh NO! I was disappointed when the receptionist said “they”. I sensed that she was disengaged. She did not say “we.” To me, that is huge. I felt there was a disconnect between her and the hotel, her employer. How much better if she had said, “Yes, I believe we updated the rooms 2 years ago.” Wouldn’t that have had a completely different feel?

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA, is a reformer, thought leader, lawyer, and author. Check out her book, Special Education 2.0 and her medicine bottle art!