I just finished reading the book Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz and Doris Jones Yang. As you might guess this book is about the story of Starbucks, one of the most esteemed and recognized brand not only in the US but also worldwide. Howard divides the book into three chronologically separated sections: Rediscovering Coffee – The years up to 1987, Reinventing the Coffee Experience – The Private Years, 1987-1992, and Renewing the Entrepreneurial Spirit – The Public Years, 1992-1997. While numerous business books about specific companies focus solely on the business/financial side, Starbucks and Howard beg to differ. As he best puts it “…The Story of Starbucks is not just a record of growth and success. It’s also about how a company can be built in a different way. It’s about a company completely unlike the ones my father worked for. It’s living proof that a company can lead with its heart and nurture its soul and still make money. It shows that a company can provide long-term value for shareholders without sacrificing its core belief in treating its employees with respect and dignity, both because we have a team of leaders who believe it’s right and because we have a team of leaders who believe it’s right and because it’s the best way to do business.”
This book is filled with lessons of true leadership, about setting a vision and inspiring every single person within the organization regardless of title or rank to live it and help achieve it. This inspiration is a by-product of putting employees first, first and first. The passion that Howard and his team have about what they do clearly radiates through the book, even for someone like myself who is not a big coffee fan! I want to conclude by two excerpts that I particularly enjoyed reading:
a) “Great companies need both a visionary leader and a skilled executive: one for the top line, the other for the bottom line. As Fortune’s Ronald Henkff wrote in November 1996, “The businesses that thrive over the long haul are likely to be those that understand that cost cutting and revenue growing aren’t mutually exclusive. Eternal vigilance to both the top and bottom lines is the new ticket to prosperity.”
b) “We built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with consumers-the opposite approach from that of the crackers-and-cereal companies. Because we believed the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of consumers was to hire and train great people, we invested in employees who were zealous about good coffee. Their passion and commitment made our retail partners our edge and fervor created a buzz among customers and inspired them to come back. That’s the secret of the power of the Starbucks brand: the personal attachment our partners feel and the connection they make with our customers.”
An enjoyable and highly recommended read! While you are at it, enjoy a Frappuccino.