Howard Schultz

Starbucks – back to its roots

When I was at eBay, Howard Schultz, the Chairman and founder of Starbucks was on the Board and he came to speak at one of the leadership meetings. They also handed out his book, Pour Your Heart Into It.

He was such an exceptional, inspirational speaker that I went home and read his book immediately. I loved it. It was the story of an entrepreneur. The story of a man who wanted to build a third place where people congregated – not work, not home, but a comfortable other place where they felt welcome.

When Schultz was no longer the CEO, it felt like Starbucks sort of lost its way. They tried things halfheartedly, became totally cookie cutter, and in fact, became a the soulless chain Schultz always wanted it not to be. But because of the talk and because of his book, I stayed a loyal Starbucks customer1.

The news release that Starbucks is going to offer free wifi is, to me, Starbucks going back to its roots. People today are ultra connected and their third place needs to be connected, comfortable and free. Starbucks is doing that. And it’s doing more. Not only is it free, they are welcoming you with a free paper – premium subscriptions through the Starbucks Digital Network.

Everyone talks about how this is very smart. And yes, it is. But, really it’s just Starbucks going back to the roots that Schultz always wanted for it. Welcome back to the helm, Howard Schultz. I hope you reclaim the company you started and steer it back on course.

  1. In fact, after not being in New York for a week, this morning I lost my FourSquare mayorship of my neighborhood Starbucks