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May’s Good Read

May 10, 2011

Onward
by Howard Schultz

How Starbucks Fought For Its Life without Losing Its Soul… this tagline sums up this great read and fascinating business book. Howard Schultz candidly documents the happenings after returning to the chief executive officer position at Starbucks (one he stepped aside from 8 years earlier). “All I had was my belief that, even more than perfecting our coffee, we had to restore the passion and the commitment that everyone at Starbucks needed to have for our customers” said H. Schultz (page 5).

To get back to the customers, many projects and initiatives were put into place. Company-wide training was one of these necessary steps and in doing so, had to close all the stores, all at once. “We’re taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honing our craft” was the note on the door at 7,100 Starbucks store in March of 2008. They closed their doors to train their staff, and as someone who knows the logistics of securing a business minded schedule for the purposes training- trust me, this was huge! This was an investment into their people’s confidence and competency levels. Unfortunately not everything went well that day. They lost $6 million in sales, competitors tried to capitalize on the timing, critics bashed Starbucks and cast much doubt on Starbucks future successes. As you learn in this book, there is always someone around to tell you why it won’t work. But this training DID work (because training DOES work). This training resulted in increased coffee scores and a renewed sense of confidence in the Starbucks brand. Starbucks was on its way… with so many other great ideas like the Greenstorm team, the leadership conference in New Orleans (great chapter with insight from Bono), Conservation International partnership, an interactive website to share ideas, and so many more!!

Schultz goes on to tell more of his truth in chapters such as “Confidence”, “Pain”, “Hope”, “Courage”. Anyone who has led anything in their life can relate to these emotions, traits and needed stations we visit during a restoration and rebuilding project. I am truly impressed and inspired by H. Schultz’s passion for success and his apparent approachability. And let’s not look over what matter most- results. Since his return in 2008, Starbucks has enjoyed a rebound in sales, record profits and higher customer traffic. I enjoyed the personal approach Schultz presented his leadership lessons throughout the course of Starbuck’s come-back. A huge KUDOS to Howard Schultz! And that comes from someone who has never drank a cup of coffee in her life, but loves Starbucks!!

All proceeds from the book go to the Starbucks Foundation, founded in 1997 to support the company’s commitment to community; and the CUP Fund, founded by partners (employees) to provide financial relief for partners facing emergency situations that have unexpectedly impacted their life. That is the kind of company Starbucks is- and even more reason to purchase this book, perhaps with a cup of something Starbucks, and read this remarkable story about transformation.

Onward!!

Starbucks Trivia: Only 3% of the world’s highest-quality Arabica beans are good enough to make it into one of Starbuck’s bags.

-submitted by Eileen Soisson, The Meeting Institute