Grabbing a cup of coffee with some very cool people was instrumental in my networking and landing a job in Minnesota. All of my meetings at Starbucks, Kopplins or Spyhouse were great opportunities to get to know someone new, and they always led to another meeting, or at the minimum a cool idea session. From tales of pitching it all and moving to the Midwest with a couple months' savings to building a startup from scratch, everyone I met over coffee had a story to tell, and I keep in touch with most of them. I can honestly say that coffee played a major role in my moving back to Minnesota.
Cup O Joe was also the title of a weekly meeting a colleague of mine and I set up on Fridays at 3:30. The purpose of the meeting was to leave the computers and cell phones at our desks, grab a cup of coffee and just riff on ideas. Uninterrupted creative thought was the goal, and by Friday, our brains were pretty well fried from the week's worth of meetings, strategy sessions and shoulder-to-the-wheel work, so we were ready. We set aside an hour in our Outlook calendars to just let our minds play, and see where they led us. Constraints were barred, and the only instruments besides the coffee were pens and notebooks. It actually was rare that we were able to break away from the grind (pun intended), in fact, sticking to the schedule proved to be tougher than we would have liked. Sometimes it was a 5 minute conversation in the parking lot, or a break leaning over a cube wall. We found these little respites of creativity that helped keep things fresh, and pushed boundaries while we worked.
John Cleese recently spoke about creativity, and the importance of uninterrupted creative thought. "If you're racing around all day, ticking things off on lists, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas." So true, but as artists with jobs, we have to find ways to make it happen, and often under tight deadlines. He then goes on to describe creating an oasis in the frenzied world so that your mind can do what it is meant to do, which is to think creatively.
That's what our Cup O Joe meetings were all about. Even though we missed more meetings than we attended, every Friday, at 15 minutes before 3:30, that meeting alert would sing out in our Outlook calendars, and remind us that we needed to take time to think, and unplug from the machine.