The name Starbucks is almost an eponym for coffee these days. With its 19,000 stores and 247,000 employees worldwide, this perhaps should come as no surprise.
Howard Schultz, its Chief Executive Officer – who turns 62 today – grew up as a poor kid in the projects of Brooklyn, New York with a blue-collar job dad who got injured at work and as a result was fired. This experience affected him deeply and he vowed to one day set up a company that took care of its workers. Starbucks became the first company in the US to offer comprehensive health insurance to its full-time workers. Mr Schultz started as an employee of Starbucks who offered his services as a marketing manager. He eventually bought Starbucks for $3.8 million without… in his own words ‘a dime’ of his own money; he raised this money via investors.
He says the company’s initial success was unnerving as he felt like a stranger looking from the outside in; he also felt the company had stepped aside from its core values.
Howard is also a best-selling author and says the challenge for Starbucks was ‘how do we stay big and stay small’; by staying small he meant by relating to customers one-on-one. It’s not what you do but why you do. People before profits is his mantra.
Starbucks went through a crisis – a time when Howard Schultz realised the company’s trajectory at the time was going to lead to disaster so he galvanized all his 10,000 managers from all over the world to a conference in New Orleans and had a heart-to-heart with them. This event proved to be the turn-around that Starbucks needed. He says he never for one moment doubted that he could turn Starbucks around because according to him, he believed in his people.
Employee barista, Sandra Andersen’s story is very touching indeed as she, one day, noticed one of her regular customers wasn’t looking very well. After she was told what the problem was – she was on the kidney transplant waiting list – offered to get tested and found out she was a match; she happily donated her kidney to AnnaMarie Ausnes, who happily recovered.
Seek to re-do yourself even when you’re hitting home-runs,
he says; in other words, do not rest on your laurels even when you’re doing well. Always seek new ways to improve. “Everything matters”.
Success is best when it’s learned. It’s very easy to lead when you’ve got the wind on your back; it’s very difficult to lead when when the wind goes contrary.
Happy Birthday, Howard Schultz!
Until next time.