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A Guy with a Movement Disorder Walks into a Bar.....

Coffee bar that is. Sounds like the beginning of a dumb joke, but, it's not. It's one of the best Generation A stories out there. Sam, the Dancing Starbucks Barista and his supervisor Chris appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 22, 2016. At that time 66 million viewers had watched the viral video of Sam dancing while making coffee for a very delighted customer. 


Just in case you're not one of those 66 million, here's the background story. According to Ellen, Sam was told he would never be employable due to a movement disorder. Sam dreamed of becoming a barista. Not a great career combination. Can you imagine the response most employers would give Sam if he showed up for an interview at a coffee shop? Most hiring managers would likely take one look at Sam's jerky movements, think about the amount of coffee likely to be spilled, do the math, and regretfully send Sam on his way.

But not Chris. Chris gets it. He gets Gen A. He gets the fact that millions of individuals born between 1995 - present (and to be honest, born way before the early 90s, myself included) who have received sometimes small and sometimes absolutely life changing and saving accommodations by their families and school systems have just as much talent to share in the marketplace than those without one of the many As (including: ability & aptitude, addiction & substance Abuse, allergies & anaphylaxis, anorexia & eating ailments, anxiety, depression, & antidepressants, asthma, attachment disorder & anger management, Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and autoimmune diseases & disorders).

Chris met Sam at a camp for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and focused not on Sam's impairments but on his potential. All it took was a little out-the-box thinking by both Sam and Chris. Turns out that playing music Sam can dance to allows him more control over his jerky movements and helps him blend in to the environment. This very simple act of playing upbeat dancing music instead of classical or acoustic music you might hear in a coffee shop was move of an adjustment not so much as an accommodation for Sam.


As we've witnessed over the last two months after Carly Fleischmann posted the inspirational video, Sam and his story have brought tremendous joy and productivity to the world. Think of the good this minor adjustment and the telling of the story has brought to Sam and his family, Chris and his staff, Starbucks, Ellen and most amazingly to the millions of individuals who have been told they are not employable but still search for ways to contribute and benefit in the workforce and marketplace.

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