I just finished reading “Pour your heart into it: How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time” by Howard Schultz. First of all, it was a great, easy to read book. I found myself nodding in agreement with how he thinks and constantly bringing the book up in conversations.

starbucks cup of coffee

Here are the top 10 ten things I took away from his book:

1. Customer service is first. A business will fail without this. The CEO originally was against using non-fat and low-fat milk in his latte’s, because in his opinion whole milk tasted better. But, by listening to his customers and witnessing an actual customer walk out the door for another coffee shop, he changed his tune.

2. “Success should not be measured in dollars: It’s about how you conduct the journey, and how big your heart is at the end of it.” Each employee, or partner as Starbucks calls them, gets 24 hours of training – not just on how to brew coffee or latte’s, but also on how to treat customers.

3. “Success is sweetest when it’s shared.” Howard Schultz grew up poor in the Brooklyn projects. He witnessed his Dad never making more than $20,000 per year working two or three jobs. All the while, his Dad had huge contempt for his employers, as he was never given any respect as a blue collar worker. Howard decided as a kid if he “was ever in a position where he could make a difference, he wouldn’t leave people behind.” He showed this by having all employees, including part-time, be eligible for stock options and health insurance.

4. “We keep our look fresh with colorful banners and posters to evoke specific moods during different seasons, enriching the Starbucks brand with visual impact and interest.” Customers like the posters so much, that they have often gotten requests to buy extra prints of the posters.

5. “Authentic brands do not emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does, from store design and site selection to training, production, packaging and merchandise buying.” One of the things that creates adds to the Starbucks ambience, is the music playing in the stores. In the beginning they repeatedly got requests from customers to buy the music that was playing in stores. Starbucks in turn listened to the customer and released “Blue Note Blends” and sold $75,000 copies before going out of print.

6. “It takes a fresh outlook to reinvent an age-old product.” One of the people that Howard met along his journey was a immunologist, Don Valencia, that while sitting at his kitchen table one morning developed an extract for imitating the flavor and aroma of coffee. The timing wasn’t right to hire on Don, but they kept in touch. Although Don wasn’t a traditional pick for heading up the in-house research and development facility, Howard had a feeling about him. Don in turned captured that Starbucks flavor into a wide range of new products, including coffee-flavored beer, coffee ice cream, and ready-to-drink bottled beverages.

7. “Don’t be threatened by people smarter than you. Compromise anything but your core values. Seek to renew yourself even when you are hitting home runs. And everything matters.” Howard constantly hired people that had more knowledge than him. He noted that many entrepreneurs want to put on this image that they are all knowing, but he realized early on he needed to hire experts that had the knowledge of running a national chain.

8. “If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”

9. “Starbucks represents something beyond a cup of coffee,” says Schultz. “While we are a coffee company at heart, Starbucks provides much more than the best cup of coffee – we offer a community gathering place where people come together to connect and discover new things. We are always looking for innovative ways to surprise and delight our customers.”

10. “Risk more than others think safe. Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.”

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