It's Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks

by Howard Behar

Hardcover, 2007




New York, N.Y. : Portfolio, 2007.


During his years as a senior executive at Starbucks, Behar helped establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. Now he reveals the ten principles that guided his leadership--and not one of them is about coffee.--From publisher description.

User reviews

LibraryThing member stephaniechase
Readable little book of thoughts on how to be a good manager and/or a good employee, and how to carry those skills over to your organization.
LibraryThing member shadowofthewind
This was an excellent leadership book. I was intrigued by it by the recent national closure of starbucks for training. They didn't train them to make better coffee, but to find a higher purpose. It's extremely important for people to find a higher purpose in their jobs. As a library manager, it would seem easy to understand the higher purpose. Like any organization, people lose that feeling and I felt this book was good at providing a way to get that back.Some quotes:"Principles sound simple. They are based on simple human truths, but putting them into practice is hard because it is human nature to avoid the truth with ourselves and others. Your part is to discover your truth. When you do so you tap into your passion, unexplained strengths, and individual gaps so you can grow, lead, and achieve your goals and find your potential for personal and professional growth and to success."The Ten Principles:1. Know who you are. Wear one hat. Seek out that particular mental attitude which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive --William James2. Know why you're here. Do it because it's right, not because it's right for your resume.The work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work --Robert K Greenleaf3. Think independently. The person who sweeps the floor should choose the broom. Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Studs Terkell (from interviewee)4. Build Trust. Care like you really mean it. People don't care how much you know, they want to know how much you care. --familiar saying5. Listen for the truth. The walls talk(THIS WAS MY MOST VALUABLE LESSON FROM THE BOOK)Compassionate emptiness: A buddhist teachingCompassionate emptiness involves listening with compassion, but without pre-conceived notions. Compassionate emptiness asks us to be caring, but empty of opinions and advice.When we stop and wait for the meaning and emotions to unfold, we hear a message. This is communication with heart.To handle yourself, use your head, to handle others, use your heart. Elenor Roosevelt6. Be accountable. Only the truth sounds like the truth. Turn your fear into faith --roy crock7. Take action. Think like a person of action and act like a person of thought. Though shalt not stand idly by --Leviticus 19:168. Face challenge. We are human beings first. The sources of any of our unhappiness is our struggling, not what we are struggling over --uknown.9. Practice leadership. The big noise and the still small voice.Big noise on stairs, nobody coming down --Chinese saying10. Dare to dream. Say yes, the most powerful word in the world. I dream of things that are not and ask why not --Robert F. Kennedy… (more)
LibraryThing member Kara
There is not a single original thought in this book. The lessons boil down to this: (1) be true to yourself, (2) love what you do, (3) listen to people, and (4) don't lie even when things get bad. Maybe I've read too many business books, but there's no need to read this one if you've read anything else. He basically outlines other great business writers (like Jim Collins), and even the language is extremely simple--this is business lite.

The only redeemable parts of this book were when he was talking about actual events that happened at Starbucks. Unfortunately, he would spend three pages lecturing on how important it is to listen to people and then one paragraph on a related Starbucks vignette. This book would have been much more effective if the ratio had been switched. Even the tragic Starbucks shooting was summarized in two paragraphs. Unbelievable.

It also kind of read like Starbucks propaganda. Here's one sentence about a mistake we made, but here's a whole paragraph about how we're so amazing that we fixed it. Starbucks employees might enjoy reading it, but the rest of you will probably find yourself rolling your eyes a bit.
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LibraryThing member dukefan86
It was interesting to learn a little more about the Starbucks corporate culture.



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