I just finished reading Onward by Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks–lower case letters used by his example. The subtitle of the book is How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. You may remember the closing of many Starbucks stores a few years ago and the looming possible demise of the company. Howard Schultz took back his leadership position and turned the company around. Onward is the tale he tells about this journey. I was mesmerized.

I’m sure every reader is familiar with Starbucks as it is, according to this book, the most frequented retailer in the world. What a gift to read this account of the good, the bad and the ugly of that journey back to profitability well written by his co-author Joanne Gordon.

What, you may ask, can I, a sole/soul proprietor, gain from this corporate giant? Let me count the ways! Here are just a few of the nuggets I highlighted in my edition:

  • “Third Place” concept created by Starbucks – a social yet personal environment between one’s house  and job (or home office).  ~Raise your hands if you’ve met a client or colleague at this “third place.”
  • Starbucks is intensely personal. p. 23 ~Isn’t your business, when you really come down to it?
  • If coffee and people are our core, the overall experience is our soul. p. 25
  • Moving forward became more important than laying blame. p. 28
  • We needed to rediscover who we were and imagine who we could be. p. 73 ~Even big companies need to do vision work.
  • We will transform the company internally by being true to our coffee core and by doing what will be best for customers. p. 90
  • People inside the company needed to see and connect with me. Often. I had to be accessible, almost ubiquitous, more than I’d ever been. p. 99
  • Anyone can ask questions with no fear of retribution. p. 99
  • When we relegate responsibility to our partners and give them the right tools and resources, they will exceed expectations. p. 110
  • Starbucks mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. p. 112 ~Is your mission as simple and straightforward as this?
  • Partners mission: We always treat each other with respect and dignity. p. 113
  • Emotional connections our true value proposition. p. 117
  • At its core, I believe leadership is about instilling confidence in others. p. 308

Is any of this relatable for you?

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