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All three co-founders introduced the new name Sunday night.
All three co-founders introduced the new name Sunday night.

Colectivo Coffee: A new name for Milwaukee's Alterra Coffee

Let’s meet at Colectivo at the Lake. 

As first reported tonight, your morning Alterra Coffee is now Colectivo Coffee.  Same great and strong coffee, same locally committed owners but a new chapter and situation for the Milwaukee-born and based coffee roaster.

The name change to Colectivo (co-lec-TEE-vo) was announced Sunday evening at a company wide staff meeting and celebration at The Pabst Theater in Downtown Milwaukee.

As I've written before, I’m an equal opportunity coffee drinker.  I do my best to stop at different places every day, and love Stone Creek Coffee, Valentine, Anodyne, my local Starbucks and others. A rise in tides lifts all boats. 

Yet, for several reasons Alterra has always had something special about it. Its founders are Milwaukee guys, its Prospect cafe helped shape the East Side and was our second home in the early days of  Its owners have given back, helped shape design guidelines and neighborhood development, and now are ready for the next chapter in their coffee lives.  Plus, I love the baked oatmeal, smoothies and am a big fan of their T-shirts. 

Now it is Colectivo.  The cups and bags look similar – distinctive and design focused. 

How will Milwaukee react to the name change?  Employees at the Sunday staff meeting were surprised, but enthused.  After the initial shock, I say we’ll all sip it in.  Great coffee is great coffee, and honestly I think the new name is a bit cooler.  Alterra, after all, also is the name of a senior living resources company.  Colectivo calls out for community building and creativity.  You’ll notice this right away with the new, yet old Colectivo bus.

As the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, Colectivo reflects where it is going as a company.  Coffee is the cornerstone, but as any good coffee place will tell you, it’s about the customers.  So, they were inspired on a trip to Latin America by the funky buses used for public transportation called …

Northwestern Mutual's annual meeting begins this weekend.  The Sunday run is a staple.
Northwestern Mutual's annual meeting begins this weekend. The Sunday run is a staple. (Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

Welcome home, agents

Adding 11,000 temporary residents to Downtown Milwaukee makes a difference.  I love it, and truly look forward to the influx of families and agents every summer when Northwestern Mutual sets up its annual conference. 

The company’s annual meeting begins today and runs through July 24.  Its estimated economic impact on the area is approximately $12.7 million.  And, get this, agents and their families will occupy about 12,789 hotel room nights.  

"We are thrilled to welcome Northwestern Mutual back to Milwaukee once again," said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.  "Northwestern Mutual represents one of the largest conventions of our year and has a tremendous impact on our area's economy. We look forward to welcoming the Northwestern Mutual attendees to Milwaukee and creating great experiences for them while they're here."

For Northwestern Mutual, it’s an opportunity for the company’s employees and financial professionals to reflect on another strong year and bring their team home to Milwaukee. 

Northwestern Mutual will conduct events and seminars for its financial representatives at the Wisconsin Center, the BMO Harris Bradley Center and at metro hotels including the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, the InterContinental Hotel & Resort and The Pfister Hotel.

In addition, the company is sponsoring activities for the financial representatives’ families at such venues as the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, the Gift of Wings Kite Shop, Milwaukee County Zoo, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum and Daniel M. Soref National Geographic Dome Theater.

On Sunday, thousands of walkers and runners will take to the streets of Milwaukee in support of childhood cancer research and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. As part of the annual meeting, some offices are raising funds for this cause and running in the company's annual 5K.

Each year Northwestern Mutual brings a major entertaine…

What does "your" Walmart look like inside?
What does "your" Walmart look like inside? (Photo:

Is this your Walmart?

Walter Loeb’s recent Forbes piece, "Why are Walmart Stores Such a Mess?" caused quite a stir on several networks and as of the posting of this blog had generated more than 1,000 comments. 

"My" Walmart, or the one that’s closest to me, is on East Capitol Drive in Milwaukee.  It’s easy to get to, and like all Walmarts has good prices and selection.  If I need something in bulk or at a low price, I’m there.  Yet, like Mr. Loeb asserts in his post, the East Capitol Drive Walmart can often be a disorderly mess which causes me to only shop there a few times per year.

Loeb explained possible similar disarray inside a Massachusetts store (number 2228) as "disturbing."  He went on to say, "Everywhere I looked, whether it was the men’s, women’s or juniors departments, merchandise was not well assorted by style, size, or color. There was no fashion message; and the presentation was poor – goods hung loose on separate racks in a most unattractive way. In the women’s intimate apparel department there were many bras on the floor – certainly unappealing, not to mention an unsanitary condition." 

I’m usually in and out so quickly that I don’t take total stock of the overall cleanliness of the Walmart store at 401 E Capitol Dr., but I almost always notice something that’s out of stock, misplaced or sloppy.  Of course, all Walmarts are different and many are very organized and clean.  And, maybe shoppers just don’t care.  Value and convenience drive buying decisions.  But "my" Target never looks like this Walmart does. 

Do you care about how "your" Walmart looks?  Does your brick and motor retailer, Walmart or otherwise, need to be an organized and design-friendly entity? 

Thoughts?  Chime in, and shop on.   

Long hellos and goodbyes = life.
Long hellos and goodbyes = life. (Photo:

Here's to long hellos and goodbyes

Mike Lescarbeau, CEO of Carmichael Lynch, a branding and creative agency in Minneapolis, had a great piece last week on Huffington Post

Titled "Here’s to Longer Goodbyes," the post was about the CEO’s cancer.  You can read it here.

Gary Mueller from Serve and BVK, agencies in Milwaukee, shared it on Facebook and I – after reading it – immediately shared it too.  It got a ton of love and likes because it hit the nail on the why we are all here head. 

I won’t recount his piece word for word, but did want to share Lescarbeau’s summary since I thought it was so very spot-on and aligned with many of my thoughts about how we should all look at our time on this earth. 

In his words:

  1. We're all temporary. We have to enjoy people and allow them to enjoy us, before it's too late.
  2. One question should determine any given day's activities: On my deathbed, will I be happy if I spent time doing this?
  3. Work-life balance is a false choice. It's all life. If you suffer at your job, get a new job. If you can't, get a new attitude. And if your principal complaint is the people you live or work with, see number one.

Cheers, Milwaukee and here’s to long hellos and goodbyes.