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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul: A Review of Onward by Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon

If you are a coffee lover, a business enthusiast, or a fan of inspiring stories, you might want to read Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon. This book is a candid and compelling account of how Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, returned to lead the company in 2008 after eight years of stepping down from daily operations. He faced a daunting challenge: to revive the iconic brand that had lost its way amid a global financial crisis, fierce competition, and internal turmoil.

Onward is not just a business book; it is also a personal journey of Schultz as he rediscovered his passion and purpose for Starbucks. He shares his insights and lessons on leadership, innovation, culture, and social responsibility. He reveals how he and his team made tough decisions, took bold actions, and transformed Starbucks from a struggling giant to a thriving leader in the coffee industry.

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Some of the highlights of the book include:

- How Schultz reinvigorated Starbucks' core values and mission by reconnecting with its partners (employees), customers, and communities.

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- How Schultz reinvented Starbucks' customer experience by introducing new products, redesigning stores, improving service, and launching digital initiatives.

- How Schultz restructured Starbucks' operations and finances by closing underperforming stores, cutting costs, streamlining processes, and raising capital.

- How Schultz redefined Starbucks' role in society by championing ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship, and social impact.

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Here are five important things to learn from Howard Schultz's book "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul":

- How important it is to stay true to your purpose and core values. Schultz says Starbucks lost its way when it focused too much on growth and efficiency and not enough on the quality of its coffee and customers' experiences. In 2008, he chose to become CEO again so that the company could get back to its original goal, which was to inspire and care for people's spirits.

- Leadership and society both have a lot of power. Schultz says that leaders need to have a clear goal, be able to explain it well, and get people to follow them. He also says that an organization's culture is its basis and that it needs to be cared for and kept safe. He talks about how he built a culture of trust, respect, and responsibility at Starbucks and how he got his "partners" (workers) involved in the change.

- How important creativity and new ideas are. Schultz thinks that creativity and innovation are important for any business to stay alive and grow in a world that is competitive and always changing. He shows how Starbucks changed its products, services, and store designs to meet its customers' changing wants and tastes. He also talks about how Starbucks used its social responsibility and environmental projects to make a good difference and set itself apart.

- It's hard to find a good balance between growth and making money. Schultz agrees that growth and making money are important for any business, but they shouldn't come at the cost of quality and happy customers. He talks about how he found a good balance between the need to cut costs and make things more efficient and the need to invest in people, goods, and experiences. He also talks about how he dealt with the trade-offs between going global and staying relevant locally.

- The lesson of being strong and having hope. Schultz talks about how, as CEO, he had to deal with many problems and crises, such as the global financial meltdown, the rise of rivals, backlash from activists, and personal attacks from critics. He talks about how he handled these problems with courage and hope, and how he learned from his mistakes and failures. He also thanks his business partners, customers, owners, and family for their help and loyalty.

Onward is a testament to the power of vision, courage, and perseverance. It shows how a company can overcome adversity and emerge stronger than ever. It also shows how a leader can inspire others to follow his or her example and achieve extraordinary results.

Onward is a book that will motivate you to pursue your own dreams and goals with conviction and confidence. It will also make you appreciate the value of a good cup of coffee. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn from one of the most successful and respected CEOs in the world.

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Best-selling Books for "Starbucks" Recommended:

- The Starbucks Story: How the Brand Changed the World by John Simmons. This book tells the inspiring story of how Starbucks grew from a small coffee shop in Seattle to a global phenomenon, with insights from the founder, Howard Schultz, and other key players.

- Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang. This book reveals the principles and values that guided Starbucks from its humble beginnings to its success as a beloved brand and a cultural icon.

- The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary by Joseph A. Michelli. This book explores the secrets behind Starbucks' customer loyalty and employee engagement, and how it creates a unique and memorable experience for every customer.

- Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People by Joseph A. Michelli. This book offers practical lessons and best practices from Starbucks on how to inspire leadership, innovation, and excellence in any organization.


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