The Coffee Challenge: The Power of Asking for What You Want

One of the best things I did in 2015 was Noah Kagan’s Coffee Challenge. It was an amazing experience and really showed me that if you want something you need to ask for it. One of the things I need to do better in my career and personal life is ask people for what I want. I have learned that other people cannot read my mind.

When I used to work at BMO, I would ask my my boss, why did a person get a certain opportunity. They would always tell me “well they asked to do it.” It is the same thing in your personal life. If you want something you need to be able to ask people for it.

Below is the post I wrote on my experience back in October. Everyone should go take this challenge. If you take the challenge post, write how your experience went in the comment section below or send me an email about it at

Happy Weekend!

There are three main reasons YOU need to do the coffee challenge:

  1. It will help you gain confidence
  2. When you ask for things, the response you get can be better than you imagine
  3. It will teach you that just because there are conventional ways of doing things, (like taking the price of coffee as a given) it does not mean it is the best way of doing it

After receiving these messages, I wanted to be able show how POWERFUL the Coffee Challenge can be. I decided that I would put the challenge to the test and share my results with you.

On Saturday, a friend of mine, Julian, and myself hit Queen Street, in Toronto, with a GoPro. Our mission was simple: get at least one 10% discount on a coffee from Starbucks. Then with our success, we would pay it forward: we would give away all the coffee we bought to homeless people.

We started at the Starbucks on Queen and Bathurst and the plan was I would go in order a coffee, ask for a 10% discount and Julian would film it. We would continue east on Queen Street, stopping at every Starbucks, doing the same thing.

In total, we ended up going to 10 different Starbucks, and got discounts at 6 of the 10. Let me repeat: we got DISCOUNTS at 6 of the 10 Starbucks! I would say that is a pretty good return! All I did was ask for a 10% discount.

What did we learn?!

  1. The key to getting the discount was making a connection with people. A connection can be established with someone by simply smiling and genuinely asking them how their day was. When you are smiling, it is hard for the person looking at you to not smile back.
  1. Most people I asked were shocked when I asked for a discount. When watching the clip, observe people’s reactions (After the first clip, even though there is no sound, it is easy to tell when I ask for the discount).

After I asked for the question, everyone had one of these three responses to me:

  1. No I can’t give that to you, I can’t make those decisions
  2. They simply said “sure”
  3. They asked why I wanted the discount

If they asked why I wanted the discount I would respond with “why not.” For one barista “why not” was a good enough answer to change their mind. For the others, “why not” was not a good enough answer.

At two of the Starbucks, the baristas went on to have a conversation with us and we explained to them we were asking for discounts and giving the coffee away to homeless people. At that moment, when the barista found out we were giving the coffee to homeless people, they gave us our order for free and gave us extra coffee to give away. I would like to thank the awesome and caring baristas at Starbucks.

All in all, we went into 10 Starbucks, got 6 discounts and gave away 15 coffees. It was a pretty awesome day. The most important thing we learned that day: if you do not ask, the answer is always no and when we did ask good things happened. When you put yourself out there, that is when things happen.

Go out and do the coffee challenge today and give your coffee away to someone in need. It’s a win-win situation. If you get the 10% discount, you’ll feel good. If you don’t get the discount, you will still feel good knowing you are helping someone else out.

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