Monday, June 20, 2011

Coca-Cola and Amy Turn Sharp

I returned from “Conversations with Coca-Cola” in Atlanta, Georgia Tuesday night and would love to share some of my trip with you. I was invited to attend because I was interested in how big companies can make change in the world, but also I was really interested in going to The World of Coke because Coca-Cola is imprinted on my soul as my father is a vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia collector!

The event was set up to be very informal and engaging and I always feel better  in this type of company to blogger event. The Coca-Cola employees and interns were amazing and attentive. I felt truly wanted in the space. I was promptly in love with the 11 other bloggers chosen to attend. I knew several of the ladies and was so happy meet or finally meet the others. {Debbie,  Jana,  Cate, Stephanie, Ana, Yvonne,  Mona, LaKeitha, Kelly,  Elizabeth, Calliope} 
It was AWESOME to hang out with Jenny and Elisa too!

We were able to do activities like vision boards together as women and bloggers and it was a great exercise to imagine and focus on what we wanted to create and harness with the online power women have as bloggers. We also had the opportunity to meet with top female executives from Coca-Cola and discuss the Women leadership. It was my favorite panel or workshop of the event as the women were frank about raising families and working hard to eliminate the glass ceiling. I felt like they opened up and talked about what it is like to really try and balance a life. We all were in agreement together that there really is no true balance and you have to make things work the best for your family. I was inspired to hear about the programs of mentorship and the women’s leadership council that Coca-Cola sponsors.

The women spoke of how they try and “lift each other up as they climb” and it stuck with me as a phrase that I would like to instill in my daily life as a blogger and woman. It cemented the fact for me that Coca-Cola sounds like a fantastic company to work for as a woman. I was able to continue these discussions via social settings and emails. As a businesswoman myself I found this to be uplifting and encouraging and pretty amazing!

We were encouraged to be open and honest about our feelings towards the brands and I feel like I was listened to and respected when I asked questions or made comments that were not the majority. I drink Coke. I try and not drink too much but I am not a person who buys it or gives it to my family. I was honest about that. I don’t think children should have soda or soft drinks. I also let the McDonald’s company know that we were not a family that eats at McDonald’s. I liked listening to McDonald’s talk about all of the new and eco friendly work they are doing and the menu changes that have occurred. I think it is important for people to know that things are changing as I learned about sustainable fishing practices and that the company earned the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label. I also learned that the company is trying to set a higher environmental bar with using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper products and packaging. This is a good thing. I had a McDonald’s salad for lunch one day I found it healthy and pretty delicious. I just have issue with fast food as a whole concept, but I did admit that I would eat salads like that again. I feel like McDonald’s could do better with recycling issues nationwide though and although they had responses for the issue- I think it is really important. I know it is important for these large fast food chains to step it up and get in gear with the greening of America. People are changing the way they view food and consumption and companies need to evolve as well. I would love to see McDonald’s change even more.

We spoke to a medical team about questions and concerns about Coke products and this was really interesting. I found that they were very good at presenting the science and information. I liked that we were able to talk openly with them about misconceptions and public speculation surrounding products. (Like the bubbles don’t cause cellulite folks!) I listened and I tried to stay open and honest but I still feel a concern about the high fructose corn syrup issue and I was asking if it was only not used in Europe because of agricultural issues or for health concerns. I did not get much of a response. I also am not keen on sugar sweeteners and would not give them to my growing children. I felt like I had a bit of a guard up during this session.

My favorite activity was being on the World of Coke tour with the fabulous Phil Mooney, the archivist for the Coke museum. He was fantastic and took us through the museum with all of his knowledge and amazing stories. I felt right at home with all of the memorabilia. My dad would love the new World of Coke and I am already making plans for us to make a family trip. We tasted sodas and flavors from all over the world and took a million photographs!

The event was a positive one for me. As I said before-Coca-Cola is embedded in my childhood as positive energy and I think the company seems to try and live up to this feeling. I was struck by a wall of handwritten letters at the World of Coke where people write about their feelings with Coca-Cola. It was pretty amazing to see other folks tell stories about old coke machines in their grandpa’s auto garage and family gatherings or how they also grew up in an antique collecting life. I found that the trip was great for me as a businesswoman and a working mother to learn more about how to balance and how to think realistically about work and family. I found that even though I am not the typical consumer of these products that I do have brand loyalty to Coke. I know big companies are big companies but I felt listened to and I felt like I could come home and write my own thoughts. I did not change my mind about McDonald’s although I think they are working towards changing some things that need to shift. I hope they are able to keep the momentum that they have.

It was a great trip and I am glad that I got to see some of the work going on at the Coca- Cola Company. I loved one of the sweet college interns that we worked with and found her to be very open and honest. We chatted about her future and how she would like to come back to Coca-Cola someday and work. She wants to change the world and I think she can. I think it is exciting to think about all of the young people that will come into big companies already armed with the knowledge that we must change to save our world. I waved goodbye to her from my shuttle bus and I could not stop smiling.

photo sources Calliope from Creating Motherhood and  Cate from and Kelly from MochaMomma


Mocha said...

I miss you. And I also mistakenly called Phil the historian, not the archivist.

Calliope said...

great post.
even if you did say Mocha took a photo when she CLEARLY did not as she is IN the photo so obviously *I* took the photo, but honestly? WHo the eff cares about these things when where I am just being a punk and missing everyone...

Kaylovesvintage said...

ok you are so year I want to come


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