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His books We, Me, Them and It , The Invisible Grail and Dark Angels argue that the importance of language, storytelling and verbal identity in branding has long been neglected. In his previous role as a director of Interbrand, an international brand consultancy, John worked with organizations as diverse as Orange, Air Products and the National Theatre.

Always keen to promote better writing in business, he co-founded the writers' group 26, and is a regular speaker at conferences and events.

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He is also director of training at The Writer, where he helps to develop people and organizations through writing. Finding Faith. We, Me, Them and It. The Invisible Grail.

Dark Angels. Slowly he learns the value of earnest hard work, of serving customers, and of working in an environment where everybody is judged by merit, not class. Gill learns to work the cash register, makes drinks, and even rises to the role of coffee master, where he teaches small groups the secrets of great coffee.

Gill comes to appreciate, perhaps worship, something more important than any coffee knowledge: the humane environment that forces him to reexamine his entitled, privileged background. I had never seen any work environment like it.

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Starbucks Logo – An Overview of Design, History And Evolution

The best Fortune companies I had encountered, despite spending months and lots of money writing and publishing high-sounding mission statements, never practiced the corporate gobbledygook they preached. His story is as heartwarming as a movie on the Lifetime network. Indeed, Tom Hanks has reportedly optioned the movie rights. The screaming need of the narrator to draw such a neat, comforting lesson from his experience undermines his credibility.

How Did STARBUCKS Get So Big?

Throughout this fable of redemption, Gill projects an opera of wishes and fears and emotions onto the coffee behemoth. For Gill, Starbucks acquires dense and crushing meaning. As the aging barista, Gill finds himself explaining the poetry of Muhammad Ali to his fellow partner Kester, a streetwise African-American. He views his own story through a prism of noblesse oblige that renders it condescending.

You can never quite tell if Gill is a brilliant author who mocks his background by deliberately creating a stuffy and pompous narrator or is simply as clueless as the Gill who torpedoes his marriage by knocking up a yoga pal. Ultimately, the most notable material in How Starbucks Saved My Life may be what the author leaves out. Starbucks has become, for him, an economic and philosophical force with the power and resources to salvage his life.

As a child, born and raised in the housing projects of Brooklyn, Schultz was deeply hurt to see his father suffer after breaking an ankle. Lacking health insurance or other benefits, the elder Schultz struggled to make up for lost pay and medical expenses. The experience left a deep impression on 7-year-old Howard. Years later, Starbucks would provide him with that opportunity.

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After honing his sales skills in the Xerox training program, and then working for a Swedish company selling housewares, Schultz visits Seattle on a sales trip. At first Schultz follows his passion for the high-quality coffee itself. He experiences another revelation: that the beverage represents just half the appeal of fine coffee.

Starbucks could have unlimited potential if it aimed higher, he realizes.


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The Italians understood the personal relationship that people could have to coffee, its social aspect. This grand insight inspires Schultz to leave the company and launch several coffeehouses, eventually returning to purchase and then convert Starbucks into what it is today. What started as a passion for coffee expands to a vision of a new establishment, enabling Schultz to realize his dream of creating a humane company that redresses a childhood tragedy. Although his story is ostensibly about growing an enormously profitable company at an almost unprecedented pace, Schultz continually returns to the deeper meaning of the company.


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  8. From the very beginning he institutes such compassionate practices as training and promoting employees extensively, sharing equity in the company, and providing health benefits to part-time employees at an early stage. Even when he encounters tough challenges in raising capital and selling his vision, he always makes choices based on human values. Although Schultz experienced an undeniably inspiring entrepreneurial journey of identifying a huge nascent market and then executing an absurdly ambitious plan — in the process transforming millions of people around the world into latte lovers — he downplays the hard business facts.

    According to Schultz, the real purpose of the company was always deeper than mere profit. Being good becomes, in effect, a self-fulfilling credo. How much should one separate the story of Starbucks from a rigorous analysis of its success? How much of the premium that folks pay for Starbucks coffee owes itself to this appealing fable?

    10 Ways Starbucks Supported Its Communities

    Even though it is not explicitly about Starbucks, The Halo Effect — and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers offers invaluable insight into understanding the power of its mythology. Rosenzweig cautions that we create rationalizations for success when the real explanations are far more difficult to identify, let alone codify in a way that enables others to make equally productive decisions.

    And so the tale of what has really happened gives way to the one that people want to tell. Unlike the field of science, in which one can conduct replicable activities with relative certainty about their outcome, in business, managers cannot assume that following a formula will produce predictable results. Rosenzweig is not arguing against making good decisions but against pursuing easy conclusions and delusional plans. The relevance of his assertion to Starbucks is simply this: The noble purpose of the company is a good thing, and has led to nice policies that have benefited employees and contributed to the popularity of the brand.

    But one must view the Starbucks claims with caution. Two things in particular should be noted.

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    Given the pace of change threatening every company, simply following several core principles will never ensure sustained success. The world changes too much and too fast for a static set of guidelines to work with the same impact. They have helped the company in tangible ways. Yet how many other companies that have been launched in the past 20 years have also made genuine commitments to nurturing the human spirit?


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    How many of them backed up this mission with real policies? Corroborative Detail In business, the value of a good story is fully realized only when the promise of the tale is met. Starbucks has spun a good story, but its credibility comes down to developing the operational capacity to back it up. In the world of retail, where execution counts for so much, Starbucks has managed, for nearly four decades, to maintain premium product quality while attracting and training motivated employees without faltering on its aggressive growth strategy.

    Starbucks' Howard Schultz success story - Business Insider

    The company has corroborated its story through terrific execution. If the public face of the company was a friendly, welcoming environment of great coffee and a supportive community, the brains in the back were executing a detailed plan with discipline and imagination. Rubinfeld brought to Starbucks a background in architecture and real estate development that enabled the young company to follow a dynamic growth plan.

    Yet his book delves far more practically into the way such a sense of purpose informs the daily processes of opening and operating new stores.