That’s the first word in uber-entrepreneur Howard Schultz new memoir Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul. That’s also the word I took away from an event I attended at the Inc. Business Owners Council meeting in New York, which Mr. Schultz addressed on March 30 in New York.
Mr. Schultz’ writing positively reeks of love. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. I’ve only read half his book, but here’s a quote from the first page:
There is a word that comes to my mind when I think about our company and our people. That word is “love.” I love Starbucks because everything we’ve tried to do is steeped in humanity. Respect and dignity. Passion and laughter. Compassion, community, and responsibility. Authenticity.
I can’t imagine a more endearing and noble foundational statement for any entrepreneur. It is also very clear that Schultz has effectively walked his idealistic talk, when you hear him in person.
I do have at least two quibbles with his book. One is his annoying proclivity for self-aggrandizement when he constantly refers to his personal intimacy with seemingly every big shot CEO in the US, as well as numerous performers and celebrities–his dawn bike rides with Michael Dell, his references to long conversations with the likes of Bono, K.D. Lang, Norman Lear, Jeffrey Katzenberg, et al. To my taste he includes just too much non-essential name dropping. (“And then I spoke to my good friend [plug in CEO or celebrity.” or “I immediately called my long-term intimate pal [plug in the CEO or celebrity.”) It’s a bit much for me. My other cavil is that the book does simply go on too long about the technicalities of coffee. At least for me. But perhaps that is unfair. Schultz has a deep passion which informs his excessive detail about the ins and outs of coffee entrepreneurship.
My favorite thing about Schultz is his very personal love for his company in the context of the global community. He is a convincing evangelist. He embraces his company as a lover. He also offers Starbucks as a mediator of meaning, an impassioned global citizen, and even a vehicle of salvation. He is unquestionably deeply in love with Starbucks. It is probably very difficult for his wife.
Howard Schulz describes the Starbucks mission as the following: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” How lovely. More thoughts about this next week.
Thank you, Howard.