What’s Up With the Café Gratitude?

Gratitude Cafe

Just saw an interesting article in the SF Chronicle that pointed to this earlier article in the East Bay Express. It talks about the Café Gratitude that Mraz fans have heard so much about, and its strange, possibly cult-like work environment.

I’ll let you read it and decide for yourself whether it sounds healthy or not, but my vote is no. Healthy is giving people options and allowing them to make their own decisions. Telling them to do it your way or else they’re fired or demoted sounds like bullying, no matter how good your intentions are.

(Of course, this assumes “your way” is something other than the basics. The basics being things like washing your hands before touching food, or not grabbing your assistant’s ass, or not operating a forklift while drunk, or not lying on your taxes. Those ways are acceptable to enforce. It’s the give-up-your-own-beliefs-and-accept-ours-and-hey-hand-over-some-money-
too-while-you’re-at-it ways that I find a little suspect.)

Up, up, up and away,


One response to “What’s Up With the Café Gratitude?

  • Teri

    Hm – even though Mraz’s 7/24 blog about the definition of “cult” looks like it was posted before this article dated 8/5, it sure would seem like the 2 were related so I wonder how long this has been brewing.

    Earlier this year I had an unpleasant business transaction with a Cafe Grat manager who accused my business of being “too box-oriented” with our rules just because we couldn’t accomodate her requests; she certainly wasn’t being grateful for the options and special deals we WERE offering her, only focusing on what we WOULDN’T do for her. I think learning to think creatively and empower yourself is great, but not when it comes with a sense of entitlement, disrespect for others’ boundaries and a belief that other people should break their rules for you just because you don’t believe in them.

    So while I know it’s wrong to judge a group by 1 bad representation I haven’t been able to suppress a slight cringe every time Cafe Grat comes up now, and you would think Mraz’s strong affiliation with them might have helped me wash away that bad aftertaste but it hasn’t been working. I was a bit disturbed to see in the article the quote about “leaning into discomfort” exactly as Mraz has blogged about, and wasn’t all that thrilled about his tat making him basically CG-kin either. I mean people can do what they want and use the same phrases and symbols if they want as long they’re OWNING those things themselves and not just spewing and following blindly like lemmings.

    I don’t know – I’ve been torn about it – I’m all for anything that introduces more love & gratitude in the world but as with anything, moderation is the key to not getting creepy with it. My hope would be for Mraz and other CGers to just pull the best teachings from CG as Mraz pulls bits of wisdom from all fields of study, without anyone feeling or being FORCED to buy into the whole kit’n’caboodle if they don’t want to.

    As for the CG business, basically every business has a culture and if that’s the culture they want to create I suppose they should be allowed to, and also as with any business if employees are uncomfortable with the culture they should leave. If an artsy person was uncomfortable in a corporate structure they would leave and the corporation wouldn’t necessarily be branded as a cult for it.

    BUT CG should probably be more upfront about their expectations to begin with so that they don’t just come off as enlightenment-pushing bullies, and ideally if it became apparent an employee wasn’t fitting in with the culture both parties would be able to discuss it as adults, realize they were incompatible and part amicably, without judgement… but now I’m just getting CRAZY idealistic…

    So anyway kudos Lisa for posting a bit of dissent and food for thought and not just supporting whatever Mraz supports without question like a teenage groupie. We all need to keep our wits about us, after all –
    wouldn’t want to become a cult… : )

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