“Life is a sum of all your choices,” said Albert Camus.
That quote by the French philosopher is not just mentioned in his 2011 book “Onward,” it seems to sum up the ideals of Starbucks entrepreneur Howard Schultz.
Throughout the 33-chapter tome, the coffeehouse mogul weaves his wisdom and lessons learned about business and life into the tale of how, since 2008, he has brought the company back from the brink.
Revenue in 2010 topped $10.71 billion, and financial results for the most recent quarter, which ended April 3, 2011, showed a 20 percent increase in profit as more customers visited the company’s U.S. coffee shops. In fact, the chain reported that sales at U.S. stores open at least 13 months rose 7 percent during the quarter.
But Schultz’s book makes it clear that his goal is more than making money. From working with baristas in the Bronx to coffee bean growers in Rwanda, following is a taste of some of Schultz’s ideas. We think they are worth savoring.
Howard Schultz’s Tips for Entrepreneurs
When we love something, emotion often drives our actions. This is the gift and the challenge entrepreneurs face every day. The companies we dream of and build from scratch are part of us and are intensely personal. They are our families. Our lives.
But the entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Yes, the highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling. But the lows can break your heart. Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth the sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable. (from Chapter 2)
2. Make it Personal
Work should be personal. For all of us. Not just for the artist and the entrepreneur. Work should have meaning for the accountant, the construction worker, the technologist, the manager, and the clerk.
Infusing work with purpose and meaning, however, is a two-way street. Yes, love what you do, but your company should love you back. As a merchant, my desire has always been to inspire customers, exceed their high expectations, and establish and maintain their trust in us. As an employer, my duty has always been to also do the same for people on this side of the counter. For our partners. This latter responsibility has driven me for many, many years. (from Chapter 3)
I have long believed in the power of a word or a single phrase to effectively communicate a business imperative — and to inspire people. The best words are never big or complicated, but are packed with emotion and meaning, leaving no question of what I expect of myself or others. (from Chapter 12)
4. Have Reverence
Building a great, enduring company requires thoughtfulness and, at times, the courage to make very difficult decisions. For Starbucks, July 2008 was a moment when I had to make choices that I never, in my 26 years at the company, had imagined I would be face with. (from Chapter 19)
For more than a decade, a glass bottle containing a thin brown liquid sat on my desk. What appeared at first glance to be a stout version of an old-fashioned soda bottle was actually a carbonated coffee drink that, back in the late 1990s, Starbucks had co-invented, marketed, and then watched fail miserably.
Mazagran. The name was printed across the bottle in white capital letters, but the product’s symbolism was also imprinted on my psyche: Do not hide from mistakes; celebrate, and learn from them. (from Chapter 27)
6. Embrace the Challenges
I’ve come to think that I am my best as a leader when Starbucks is being challenged or fighting for survival. I’m comfortable with, and in a way enjoy, the rugged steep ascent. That is my nature.
And while I would not want to constantly battle the odds, the raw feeling of accomplishing something that others did not think possible, or leading people beyond where they thought they could go, is extremely gratifying. (from Chapter 33)
About Howard Schultz
Chairman, president, and CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Company, Howard Schultz has won the Horatio Alger Award for those who have overcome adversity to achieve success; the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Business Ethics, given by Notre Dame University’s Mendoza College of Business; the Botwinick Prize for Business Ethics from Columbia Business School; and the first John Wooden Global Leadership Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
He has been included in Time magazine’s “TIME 100,” a list of the most influential people in the world. He and his wife Sheri live in Seattle with their two children. Learn more here: www.starbucks.com.
About Co-Author Joanne Gordon
“Onward,” is co-written by Joanne Gordon, a former Forbes writer who has spent more than a decade profiling companies and business leaders from numerous publications.
She has written five previous books, including: “Closing The Engagement Gap: How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results,” and “Be Happy at Work: 100 Women Who Love Their Jobs.”
For more information, visit www.joannegordononline.com.