Noah Kagan’s Coffee Challenge

I recently listened to an episode of The Tim Ferris Show featuring Noah Kagan, the founder of SumoMe. Among his business and personal growth advice, Noah encourages people to take the “Coffee Challenge”. It involves asking for 10% off whatever you order the next time you’re at Starbucks or some other coffee shop. The purpose of the challenge is to force you out of your comfort zone, help you overcome unwarranted fears, and ultimately boost your confidence in asking for things.

It didn’t sound like such a tall task to me. But Noah had insisted that’s the universal response, and that everyone learns something about themselves taking the challenge.

So, I decided to do it.

I didn’t have any nerves. Until I walked into Starbucks. My heart rate sped up. There was one barista behind the counter and nobody waiting in line. At least I wouldn’t have an audience. Right then, as I’m waiting at the counter for the barista, two more customers get in line behind me. Of course they do. My immediate thought was to ditch the challenge. Clearly these two had gotten in line for the sole purpose of laughing at me after my strange request. I could always do this another day. ‘Next time’, I thought as the barista approached the counter.

“What can I get you?”

“Ummmmm, can I get a tall house blend,” I responded.

“Okay. Did you want to add any shots of expresso?”

“No, not today.”

“Room for cream?”

“Naw. No thanks.”

At this point in the transaction, I was still pussyfooting around in my head whether I should do the challenge. Noah was right. I was learning something about myself. As the barista keyed the order in, I finally just said it.

“Can I get ten percent off?”

“Sure,” he said with zero hesitation. “This time.”

“Appreciate it,” I said.

He continued, “Only this one time though. I’ll remember you.”

“What if I shave my head?” I quipped.

“Nope. Won’t work. I’ll remember your face,” he said, tapping his index finger to his head.

“Fair enough. Thanks again.”

That was it. No angry barista. No customers laughing at me. No embarrassment – aside from the embarrassment that I was ever worried about embarrassment.  Just 10% off a cup of coffee.

Go try it.

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