Caffeine power

Who are those folks in the funky dragon boat? Starbucks employees, out having fun on the company dime.

By Chris Morrison, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The fiercely carved dragon head on the prow of the boat glares over the water while 18 paddles churn rhythmically to the beat of a drum. It looks like a sight from ancient China, but the bizarre vessel is crossing Seattle's Lake Washington, powered by some very contemporary Starbucks employees. They're in training, hoping to repeat their gold-medal performance at Vancouver's Alcan Dragon Boat Festival next year.

The dragon boat club is a product of the coffee company's work-life initiative. Starbucks subsidizes several hundred employee-organized activities through a program it calls Partner Connections. The company also helps workers indulge their passions for knitting, scuba-diving, and kickball.

But to dragon boaters, there's no substitute for their obscure sport. "Sometimes you go home soaking wet," says Adam Diamond, an international marketing manager who co-captains the boat. "But after the adrenaline and excitement, when people get off the boat, they're ecstatic. There's nothing like it in the world."  Top of page

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