Convention Networking: A Practical Guide

NCA Networking

By William “Bill” Murray, President & CEO, NCA

This post was originally published on LinkedIn

For over twenty years, I worked for the motion picture industry. Networking has always been the lifeblood of Hollywood – even while it was maddeningly difficult.

Take film industry conventions.

Hollywood has a couple of typical industry conferences, but most gatherings revolve around film festivals – often in glamorous, expensive places. There’s seldom a big exhibit hall with vendors – instead, filmmakers show clips of their work in private rooms, writers “pitch” scripts in one-on-one meetings, and deals are made at unadvertised parties.

There’s a secretive, fluid mystery to everything that’s happening, and always the sense that you are missing something. That uncertainty is complemented by the chaos of autograph seekers, paparazzi, and publicists all jockeying for attention. Unless you know how to “work” a film festival, you might as well stay home.

While networking at film festivals and association conventions may seem to have little in common, there is one key aspect in which they are similar: if you plan to network at either, you’ll need to have a strategy and go prepared.

For association conventions, here’s what’s key:

Continue reading

Looking Ahead: Your Business is Our Business

By William “Bill” Murray, CAE, President & CEO, NCA


What’s ahead for your business?

As you look to the months and years to come, what are the greatest challenges you are facing, the biggest opportunities you see?

And how are you going to build the future you envision for your organization?

We’re in the midst of this very exercise here at the National Coffee Association, USA. Our current Strategic Plan was written three years ago. At that time our priority was to evolve NCA, rapidly and efficiently, and catch up with a changing world.

Our 2015-2017 plan called for us to update our infrastructure and communications (websites, newsletters, social media) and add member benefits (discount programs, Coffee Career Center, Business Directory, webinars).

Even as we were making these changes over the past three years, our day-to-day agenda grew exponentially. We took on new projects ranging from science and health issues (like last year’s review of coffee and cancer by the World Health Organization), to Federal regulatory developments (like the proposed Border Adjustment Tax).

All of which raises the question:

What’s next for the NCA?

Continue reading

19 Signs of Executive-Level Leadership

By Bill Murray, NCA, CEO

See the full post on LinkedIn or visit the Coffee Career Center resource page for more leadership tips. 


With thanks to Laura Freebairn-Smith of the Organizational Performance Group, for permission to cite her findings. 

Ensuring that the right organizational leadership is in place is a task that is so challenging that it has spawned an entire industry.

Whether you search the web or pop into an old-school brick-and-mortar bookstore, the amount of advice on offer about “being a leader” is staggering.

One of the reasons that leadership can be a challenging subject is because it pertains to human behavior. A second difficulty relates to things like stylistic differences, gaps between what is said vs. what is done, and self-promotion.

Continue reading

Needle in a Haystack: A Practical Guide to Finding Your Next Job

By Bill Murray, NCA, CEO

The following is an edited post orignally published on LinkedIn


The U.S. Department of Labor reported last month that there were 5.9 million vacant jobs in the U.S., while the rate of people quitting their jobs has been rising steadily.  Companies are hiring, and people are moving on – and up.

Unless you plan on working for one employer forever, at some point you’ll be looking for that next job.  The best time to prepare is now – especially if you aren’t actively looking.

Of course, there are endless job-hunting resources available on specific topics, like resume writing and writing a cover letter. [Ed. note: Including our recently launched Coffee Career Center.]

The key to success is not only successful execution of each step, but also having an overall strategy, much as you would for any long-term project.

Here’s a checklist of strategies, tactics, and considerations:

Continue reading

Coffee Careers: What Are Internships Worth?

Startup Stock Photos

Internships are critical for hands-on experience in a new profession – especially in an industry complex as coffee. Developing new skills and connections gives you a critical advantage in today’s competitive job market.

For employers, interns offer companies fresh perspectives, critical support to boost team productivity, and/or specialized talent to knock out that key project with long-term benefits. It’s also a great way to give back to the industry, cultivating future leaders through education and mentorship. [Ed. note: Check out our new Coffee Career Center for internships tailored specifically for the coffee industry.]

Here, NCA CEO (and association veteran) William (Bill) Murray shares the importance of establishing an ethical internship program, creating a mutually beneficial and rewarding experience.

Continue reading

(Not So) Hot Off The Press!

By Bill M. Murray, CAE, NCA, CEO


The latest coffee and health news continues to be overwhelmingly positive for coffee drinkers.

On June 15, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that it can no longer classify coffee as a “possible carcinogen.” In fact, coffee may have protective powers against liver and endometrial cancer (see the full NCA news release).

This announcement marked the first time IARC reversed a food or beverage classification, adding to the growing body of good news about coffee, on topics such as:

We’ve compiled some of this research on Coffee and Me, where you can find links to relevant independent studies and reports.

What Are Very Hot Beverages?

When the WHO released its coffee finding, it also classified “very hot” beverages as a “probable” cause of cancer. Coffee drinkers should understand that the evidence on which this classification was based did not include even a single study of coffee drinkers.

Continue reading

Coffee and Guinea Pigs


Recently, NCA CEO Bill Murray wrote about how to understand the good vs. not-so-good research in health headlines.

Coffee is more popular than tap water in the U.S. (according to the 2016 NCDT), and it’s one of the most researched beverages in the world. The problem is, a lot of information can lead to a lot of misinformation.

Not all research is created equal. Potential outliers aside, even studies conducted with the best intentions may have serious methodological flaws (like recall bias).

Now the latest headlines are giving us another example: A new study suggests that caffeine consumption may cause short-term hearing loss ….in guinea pigs.

Continue reading

Behind the Headlines: Coffee, Health, and Research


For the informed coffee drinker.

By Bill M. Murray, CAE, NCA, CEO

We know that coffee helps fight fatigue – but how do we know this?

First, from personal observation – coffee drinkers feel the effects of caffeine, and sometimes observe them in others.

Second, there’s evidence in the form of coffee-drinker surveys. In 2016, 84% of coffee drinkers said that “coffee wakes me up and gets me going.”[1]

Third, independent researchers suggest that consuming caffeinated coffee may be linked to improved brain function, physical endurance, and athletic performance.[2]

Three different types of research, all leading to similar conclusions.

But when it comes to diet and health-related research, there are new headlines every day – sometimes with opposite claims. Coffee itself isn’t immune from this phenomenon, and it’s easy to see why.

Since the early 1990’s, at least 2,700 coffee and health related studies have been reported by researchers from all around the world.[3] With new coffee and health headlines emerging on a weekly basis, it is important that coffee drinkers think smart about the coffee and health news that breaks over their morning cup of coffee, some of which may even appear to be contradictory.

If you’re trying to stay up-to-date on coffee and health research, here are 4 things to keep in mind when reading the headlines.

Continue reading

Five Coffee Mega Trends

By William (Bill) Murray, President & CEO, NCA
Twitter: @Bill_CoffeeAssn

Our NCA offices are located just a few blocks from Wall Street in New York City, where stockbrokers are quick to warn their clients that “past performance is no guarantee of similar results in the future.” Despite this ominous caveat, every analyst studies the historical returns of various investments in an effort to anticipate what to do next.

This is true in many areas, from weather patterns to sports. We look at the record of a team or a race horse as a measure of how strong a contender each may be. By learning that a team does better in a home stadium, or that a horse runs faster on a muddy track, we hope to get a glimpse of the future.

Last week I had a couple of speaking engagements on behalf of the NCA, addressing both the Tea Association, where we discussed opportunities to work together and market trends, and a separate event in New York.

In preparation I spent a couple of weeks poring over our National Coffee Drinking Trends Report (NCDT) and just released Single Serve report. As with sports teams, or stocks, the past cannot predict the future.

But if you look beyond the surface, the richness of the historical coffee-drinking data reveals itself in very interesting ways. And so the NCDT and Single Serve data revealed five mega trends driving today’s coffee market, and while one or two may be obvious, taken as a group they create an interesting picture.  Continue reading