Its Not about the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks by Howard Behar“At Starbucks, the coffee has to be excellent, from the sourcing and growing to the roasting and brewing. The vision has to be inspiring and meaningful. Our finances have to be in order. But without people, we have nothing. With people, we have something even bigger than coffee.”
During his many years as a senior executive at Starbucks, Howard Behar helped establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. He coached hundreds of leaders at every level and helped the company grow into a world- renowned brand. Now he reveals the ten principles that guided his leadership—and not one of them is about coffee.
Behar starts with the idea that if you regard employees and customers as human beings, everything else will take care of itself. If you think of your staff as people (not labor costs) they will achieve results beyond what is thought possible. And if you think of your customers as people you serve (not sources of revenue) you’ll make a deep connection with them, and they’ll come back over and over.
This approach has been integral to Starbucks from the start, and remains so today. Behar shares inside stories of turning points in the company’s history as it fought to hang on to this culture while growing exponentially. He discusses the importance of building trust, facing challenges, daring to dream, and other key principles, such as:
• Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat
When organizations are clear about their values, purpose, and goals, they find the energy and passion to do great things.
• Think Independently: The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom
We need to get rid of rules—real and imagined—and encourage the independent thinking of others and ourselves.
• Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds Like the Truth
No secrets, no lies of omission, no hedging and dodging. Take responsibility and say what needs to be said, with care and respect.
• Take Action: Think Like a Person of Action and Act Like a Person of Thought
Find the sweet spot of passion, purpose, and persistence. “It’s all about the people” isn’t an idea, it’s an action. Feel, do, think. Find the balance, but act.
Behar believes that as work becomes less hierarchical and as the world economy becomes more and more about relationships and connecting, the principles of personal leadership are more important than ever. This book will show you the way.
Onward | Review & Notes
Howard Schultz, with Joanne Gordon. Rodale, Lessons abstracted are ethereal and often lost. Lessons in stories are vivid, palpable, moving, and memorable. It is the latter which makes this book so engaging. As a business leader, my quest has never been just about winning or making money; it has also been about building a great, enduring company, which has always meant trying to strike a balance between profit and social conscience. Respect and dignity.
In It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles From a Life at Starbucks, Howard Behar serves up the principles from The Green Apron Book which he helped develop during his 18 years of senior executive leadership with Starbucks. He takes you behind the scenes of key inflection.
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Full Book Notes and Study Guides
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Over the next 20 years, in an industry fraught with competition and against all odds, Schultz built Starbucks into a global player: the most recognized and geographically stable coffee house in the world. For several consecutive years in the late s and into the new millennium, Starbucks was opening a new location every single workday. Certainly quality product is essential to success, but premium beans are not what Starbucks attributes to its success. The advice is so timeless, in fact, that indications of it can be seen all the way back to the Greek empire. We need to think carefully about what we do, we need to do it, and then we need to think carefully about what we did. Behar, Schultz and the Starbucks management team believe fervently that in order for an organization to be successful, the individuals it employs need to be successful.
Onward is the history of how Starbucks founder Howard Schultz got back at the helm of his company to take it back from the brink of bankruptcy during the financial crisis. In this book, t e took a bloated, inefficient company that was losing its soul and re-innovated it while going back to its roots. In the introduction, Howard Schultz explains how he was inspired to start Starbucks in the bars he saw visiting Italy. He describes the experience of Italian cafes as human interactions that resembled an amazing theater unfolding before his eyes. His goals he says was never only that of winning or making money, but to build a great and company which also cares about people.