Starbucks: a journey of conviction and human connection…no, really…

by jasmine

My August book recommendation: Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon.

Like an impeccably brewed cup of Pike Place Roast, this book begins boldly and resolves to reach a bold denouement.

A couple months ago, I had seen this segment on the CBS program, “Sunday Morning,” profiling Starbucks ceo, Howard Schultz (he purposely doesn’t capitalize those title letters).  He was discussing his book, Onward, and my inner Starbucks enthusiast was immediately intrigued.  This month, I finally got around to cracking it open…what I got was so much more than what I had initially bargained for.

For me, the power of the book is how Schultz, along with Gordon, tell a story of romance; a story of ambitious enterprise; and a very personal journey of enlightenment, simultaneously.  For Schultz, Starbucks coffee is a catalyst for connection; Starbucks is a brand for innovation; and Starbucks is a company with a conviction rooted in value and humanity.

Startlingly, this book was an emotional read for me.  With a genuine conversational tone, Schultz has written a compelling narrative of social consciousness, passion and effective leadership in extreme economic times.  With such aching honesty and conviction, Schultz gives readers an inside look into the dizzying ups and agonizing downs of one of the world’s dominating retail leaders as he strives to reinvigorate a disintegrating company.

Onward will resonate feelings of appreciation from Starbucks fans, and earn respect from their skeptics.  It’s accessible for those who are not business-minded, and valuable to the entrepreneur.  Is the book self-serving?  Absolutely, that’s to be expected when you’re reading a book about a company through the lens of its ceo.  But one can accept that transgression when it’s guided by deeply-rooted values and passion.  If you’re looking for unassuming inspiration, look no further.

“What if we cared all of the time the way we care some of the time?  What if we cared when it was inconvenient as much as we care when it’s convenient?”