I just got through reading “Onward,” by Howard Schultz, current Starbucks CEO. I was duly impressed. It is seldom that a book about business holds my interest from the beginning to the end, at times making it difficult to put down, quite like the best suspense novel (well, almost).
What I liked most was the story it told. The way that a company, as the subtitle to aptly puts it, “fought for its life without losing its soul.” Literally. We need more CEOs like Mr. Schultz! This book describes what happens when the leadership of a corporation loses its focus, starts following the wrong strategies, and puts profits above all else. In the end, the Starbucks turnaround proved that a company that stays true to its core values and beliefs cannot but succeed. The courage demonstrated by Mr. Schultz in rescuing a sinking corporation, defying all the naysayers that didn’t believe that a company could succeed unless it kowtowed to the almighty Bottom Line, proved everyone wrong.
A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts (and chagrin) about the Borders demise. A perfect example of a company that lost its North, a poster child for the catastrophic effects of a management team that has no direction, no stake, no soul. Most of all, no courage.
Reading “Onward” was a kick in the pants for me; it restored (somewhat) my faith in the value of corporations, if properly managed, if driven by principled leaders, if inspired by purposes that go beyond the quest for the acquisition of wealth.
Most of all, it brought me back to Starbucks. Cheers!