Onward

I just finished reading Onward that my wife picked up several months ago at a leadership simulcast she attended with her church staff.  Howard Schultz was originally slated to be one of the speakers, but backed out due to pressure from an on-line grassroots movement.

Whether you agree with Schultz or the decisions Starbucks as a company makes – or even if you are not a fan of coffee – Onward is primarily a book about leadership.  While there are no perfect leaders and there are no perfect companies, Onward tells the story of Starbucks fight to return to its principles and regain its financial standing in difficult economic times.

Starbucks coffee is a favorite of mine and receiving a Starbucks gift card makes for a good day!  But as I read the book, there was much about the story of Starbucks I did not know.  The introduction of Pike Place Roast to provide a consistent, daily brew to offer customers alongside the variety of roasts Starbucks serves.  The Starbuck Rewards card designed to build customer loyalty.  The idea for, development of and unveiling of VIA – Starbucks brand of instant coffee.  It was also interesting to read of some of the past failures as Starbucks sought to build a healthy business.

Through the pages of the book Schultz shares his commitment to Starbucks as a company and the principles on which the company was built.  As Starbucks grew and opened more and more stores, there was a drifting from those core principles.  One of the first tough decisions Schultz has to make was to return as ceo (titles at Starbucks are purposely in lower case), which meant letting go of the current ceo.  The subsequent chapters detail the tough decisions that were made to bring Starbuck back to not only solid financial standing, but also back to what the company was all about as it began.

Onward is not just a book about coffee (although Schultz loves coffee), it is about love for a company and a leader who wanted to stay true to what that company was all about.

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