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March 29, 2011


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SBUX Alum Bill

I guess Starbucks just cut its advertising budget for the WSJ!

Jim  Romenesko

You'll notice that Starbucks PR department always runs to the same news outlets when they want a guaranteed puff piece -- USA Today and Katie Couric at CBS. Wall Street Journal has always cast a somewhat critical eye on Starbucks. They were the first to pick up the Schultz memo that was posted here in 2007.


I'm guessing that this won't be the last negative review of Howard's book. People are finally beginning to see thru his world class BS. And how pathetic is it that he couldn't even write the book by himself--he needed a co-writer. Howard, you truly are a douchebag.


So should Howard take the time to scrub drains and work barista shifts in stores, as people here suggest a lot, or spend his time writing a book without a co-author?


Joe: I don't think he needs to work the floor. That being said, from what I've read of his book, he basically acts like he alone led Starbucks out of the darkness. As a store manager I remember living a different story. I am happy that the company is doing so well, but to act like the company hasn't lost a lot of what made it a great place to work is absurd. I even think a lot of the changes may have been needed. I just don't think there should be a book about what a success it was.


Living through it all..the book has just brought back alot of bad memories.


In Starbucks lingo, employees are called "partners" just like customers are called "guests."

In the real world, a "guest" doesn't pay for food and drink.

Starbucks' fake lingo ties in with all the other fake claims Howard makes. A person exchanging money for food and drink is a customer. A PAYING customer.


Too much foam? That's not a bad thing. Bad analogy, Wall Street Journal...

Broken  Harted

This goes back about 4 years of so.
when Howard made a statement, that the Tech's would never get laid off, the Techs were the back bone of the company and the company's high standards was set by the Techs doing PMs, cleaning of the equipment, setting the temps, and training the partners on how to keep the equipment running, the stores had the company techs at peck and call, we were there anytime they would call.
then all of a sudden a person named Kate Sharky pulled the plug on the Techs, and Howard stands right behind her all the way, than Kate was pulled because that idea was killing the company, so Howard pulled her from her job and moved her to a different position to hide her again, to cover her butt, because the company that came into replace the Techs was called FSN, a company that didn't have a working clue what the Techs did for Starbucks, when Howard found out what was going on year and half later, in the stores he gave FSN 6 months to get it all straighten out, they tried and still didn't get the problem fix, Larry Eister covered that up, he is also the go to guy for the Techs on the conference calls he had never worked on any equipment in a store setting, so he didn't have a clue either, he has worked for Starbucks for a long time setting in a office, and waiting for the day to retire.
You know the company was going downhill, when they fired all the instructors in Seattle, they were the ones that taught the company Techs to make sure they understand the company’s standards.

Howard has been trying to push his book for a really long time now that really doesn't mean crap. That he would stand behind and help out the people he let go, when he stated, that Starbucks would come looking for the people that were laid off... when are they going to start looking for us.

The money that is made off the books goes to his kids banks accounts.

Like the big push on the Water Starbucks was selling, some of the money was to go to the poor people that didn't have drinking Water; no one heard a thing after that deal died.

I would have thought that Howard would hire back the Techs like he stated, if the company did a turn around, but it looks like the was a lie also...

Life is too short for this long of a bad story...


I hope that Howard sees this website--he really needs to know how a lot of his "partners" feel about him!


"Like the big push on the Water Starbucks was selling, some of the money was to go to the poor people that didn't have drinking Water; no one heard a thing after that deal died."

What are you talking about? Nothing has changed with the amount of money Ethos funds to help children receive cleaning drinking water. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Ethos is the best charity around (since they aren't even a charity, but a commercial company that happens to have an ethical business model), but so far as I know nothing about it has changed since its inception.


1.85 for Ethos water and a nickel goes to children. Why don't you buy an Aquafina for 99 cents and donate 86 to save the children or something?

And all of Howard's proceeds are going to the Cup fund.

Let's keep the criticism of Howard and co at least accurate. I haven't read the book yet, but is there a chapter where he cashes his bonus check that he got from firing all the ASMs?

Also, check out how many Partner Editions hit ebay in the ooming days. The 99 cent ones can't even get a single bid, lol.


I just read the "under title" of how Starbucks didn't lose it's soul. I think it did lose it's soul. I remember when the last round of layoffs was about to happen at the "mother-ship" and there was a town hall and a lot of "partners" were willing to give up pay and also take furloughs like some of the big gov't types were making mandatory. It is the partners that truly care that keep the "soul" of Starbucks. It's too bad that the people that make the bad decisions get to stay and keep making the bad decisions. That is how most big companies keep going. Fire the ones that give a crap and keep the ones that for some reason or untouchable or just keep getting promoted. I keep in touch with a lot of the old groups I worked with and misery is what I hear! I keep telling them there is life outside of good ol' sbux. Plus getting to leave on your own will is a lot different than getting the boot :)
Howie quite frankly makes me want to vomit...oops I just did a little in my mouth. I agree, have him try and work in the stores for even a couple hours. See what really puts the money in his pocket!


The thing about "Onward" is many of the problems Schultz claims to have fixed when he stepped back in as CEO still exists in stores. Some stores are still focused on growth as opposed to the personal connection. There's no doubt that if Schultz worked in some of these stores, he would even see those problems because the store would be on its best behavior in the presence of the ceo.


TiredofThis: in talking about New Orleans, he says that the most important job at sbux is the store manager. He also says he didn't do this alone and never could have without the efforts of every partner.
BPH: I remember the pre-ethos days when that 99 cent bottle of aquafina was the same $1.85 at starbucks (inflation adjusted). It's not a more expensive product, it's more expensive service.
Also, BPH, learn how ebay works. New listings with 0 bids is common. There are bids on partner books ending sooner at $20.
NYBarista - if you aren't on your best behavior all the time, look in the mirror for the source of your problems. It shouldn't take a visit from the ceo to get people to be at their best.


ncsm & Jim: page 30. 'It [the 'Commoditization' memo] had first appeared on what was, in early 2007, a little-known blog called Starbucks Gossip.' he goes on to say how he read -- or perhaps had summarized for him -- all the comments about the memo, the "heated online conversations" and the "avalanche of press and punditry." this made him realize, hey! we gotta get with this technology stuff.

adoubleshotofclarity: You seem defensive. I've been in many Starbucks outlets in New York and elsewhere where it's not just one guy who's doing it badly, it's whole teams of employees, err, partners. where the idea that the store of a "third place" would make me hoot in laughter. I can't even fit my empty cup in the garbage can, let alone kick back and enjoy the company of those around me or do any of the other utopian things Howard claims he's "won" at. his unexamined and categorical insistence that Starbucks has arrived at the apex of its destiny deserves skepticism.

& this won't be the last bad review... but I'm only on page 71.


Defensive? No, not at all. Simply sharing the counterpoint to an often one sided conversation. I stand by my belief that if you can do it when Howard drops by, you can do it daily. Maybe it's your sm or dm who should hear that advice, but I'm one to share blame before I pass it.


ncsm: If you had in fact read the book, you would have read that he most certainly is aware of Starbucksgossip.com. Though, I doubt he has time to read it.


It sounds like a "glass half empty" review. Schultz did fix some things in the store experience unless you guys tell me the shutdown for re-training didn't do any good. Plus he's introducing products that will be sold in grocery stores yet the store partners will profit. Can't complain about that. Back to the in store experience. It sounds like customers have too many choices. Maybe it's time to experiment with cutting back the choices.


My big beef? Howard announces that breakfast sandwiches were "un-Starbucks," and then keeps them! The scientists in Seattle have found a way to make food not smell...

Hello, Howard!
Stores still smell like cheese! Not always burnt cheese, but nasty sausage and cheddar, or smelly Santa Fe paninis. Does Howard ever visit a Starbucks during the morning rush?

HS says one thing and then does another... over and over again... value meals, vacation benefits, flavored coffee... where should I stop?


I'm about half through the book, just after the announcement of store closings. I did not know about the kidney donation. I'm pretty sure I wont be doing that. ha ha

@spence I'm sure once a week for a couple of minutes, he stops by the site to just see what people have to say on a open forum just as I'm sure he stops by Melody's as well. He did find out quickly how far behind the company was on understanding website impact in all directions.


adoubleshotofclarity: I agree that he did put that line in the book. However, I felt that it was in the context of how he managed to give the SM's the tools they needed(ex. Dashboard, Laptops) to do the job better. I did not think it was a major compliment. That being said, even if you give him the benefit of the doubt, one page does not make up for an entire book of ego stroking. I am happy the company is doing well, I just want this jerk to ride back off into the sunset. After his book signing tour, of course.

Coffee Soldier

I like your train of thought Doubleshotofclarity!


You're absolutely right--he is a jerk. Actually, I'll do you one better--he's a jerk OFF.

levis ragazzi

Schultz did fix some things in the store experience unless you guys tell me the shutdown for re-training didn't do any good.


TiredofThis: http://www.starbucks.com/onward/live, go to 1:26:00 and watch for a minute.


"Schultz did fix some things in the store experience unless you guys tell me the shutdown for re-training didn't do any good."

Honestly, it didn't. That was a publicity stunt that did nothing on a store level. My partners were already trained properly, so it was just embarrassing and insulting.


@adoubleshotofclarity My store has much bigger leadership problems than a visit from the ceo could fix. Your advice is best suited for my sm.

My criticism of the book is that from what I read so far, Schultz's takeover as ceo solved everything, when in fact some of those problems he talks about in the first few chapters still exist. I'm doing my best given the situation I have at my store – I won't delve into the detailed problems – but I do not need people coming into my store and telling me how to do my job because they listened to Schultz speak about his book.


Howard NEVER LEFT, no matter what he says in the book. HE was the one pushing the growth, not Jim Donald. The whole transformation story is PURE HYPE people. Just about every part of the "transformation" was either already underway when Howard "returned," or was just some dumb-ass idea Howard thought of or agreed to in order to get attention. Don't overthink it...Howard is about Howard and hype, end of story.


I found it curious that Howard was biking all around Hawaii with Michael Dell for a week but then ordered HP laptops for all the stores. But then again Dell was going through some rough patches back then also (and maybe still are)

Explaining the technology gaps helped me when thinking back to partners making mistakes at the register, and why they werent easily fixed. It is hard to believe that with all the money Starbucks was rolling in back then they didnt have the IT investments in place.

barista man

I liked Jim Donald a lot. Having read a bit of the book so far, I kind of feel like Jim was thrown under the bus. Don't get me wrong. It was apparent how much Jim loved the company. I loved watching his videos on the web portal. You could just see the passion he had for what Starbucks is supposed to be all about. Such a shame he was given the boot.


adoubleshotofclarity: I appreciate you taking the time to post this link. However, I can tell you that what he says in interviews is obviously different than his actions. The national labor cuts specifically to the non-coverage, showcased his attitude. He thought that the majority of his managers were lazy. I think there was some wisdom in making responsible cuts, there was no plan. It was just cut 60 hours and figure it out. This process largely took two years due to the total lack of planning. This guy romanticizes the transformation for Wall Street. In reality, he destroyed many years of loyalty he had built up with his employee base.

Cut out the Heart

I am waiting for someone to write the real story. Talk to anyone who worked at Statbucks at the time of Howards return and they will tell you everything in his book is a delusional fantasy crafted to make yet another egotistical, narcissistic CEO feel better about the ruining of many peoples lives. For him to say Starbucks lost it's soul and then cut people who would have done anything to save the company, that what was souless...Howard only likes to have yes people around him that are concerned with only one thing...sel-preservation. Howard should one day realize that action speaks louder than words...also stop writing fiction books and calling them non-fiction...


You might be the only person I've heard of who knows that story so maybe one day it will be told. So far, I'll go with what Howard says and the many people who agree with his point of view. But you must see that Howard is the company. It's his vision and his life's work and he's created something pretty popular so he needs to be able to execute his plan.


Make no mistake about this, this book is basically Howard Schultz publicly congratulating himself for the last few years as King, I mean CEO of Starbucks.

What no one here will hear anywhere else is that this entire Tribute slash 40 year Anniversary promotion has been an abysmal failure for sbux cop orate. It wasn't promoted well or received well by the public. Starbucks neither offered any kind of deal with the promotion, and the coffee, which is a limited time offer is more expensive then most of the regular stock.

extra whip

I like extra whip cream.

Sincerity and Truth

It has become apparent to me that Howard no longer frequents reality and no longer cares about what was a special company that truly cared about people. We are a different Starbucks. As a "partner" who was around during Howards first run as ceo and who was around for the launch of frappiccinos, I have seen the company go through a lot. What seems different now is Howards apparent loss of touch with the reality of what his longest term most passionate and loyal partners are feeling. He seems to have shut out those that challenged his point of view (like behar or smith "h20" ) and has traded sound reason and compassionate leadership (Jim Ailing, Orin Smith, Howard Behar, Mark Lindstrom, Jim Donald) with those who deep down care about other people about as much as they care about their shoes (current leadership). On top of all that, it seems that Howard may now see partners as his enemies, and not as his partners working together towards a goal. In the SSC it is common knowledge that most partners try as hard as they can to avoid Howard as they feel he is on his pedestal, cold, distrustful, egocentric, and self absorbed. Howard...I hope you read this and at some point come to your senses becuase I dont think this is the person you intend to be... but I am not going to hold my breath. People now are less important than results and it doesnt matter who you are or how much you have contributed and for how long...partners are now disposable whores seling their time for money and are being disposed of when they have a bad quarter in dark and quiet back alleys in hopes that they dont make too much noise. The word soul in its original launguage meant the mind or thought process (psyche) of a unique person. We have as a company done exactly what Howard claims we have not; sold our soul for money. All the partners that made us who we were ARE GONE! In essence, we now have a different psyche ie: a different soul. Times were good: Howard is the CGS, Times got bad; fire everyone that cares about people and replace them with outlier managers! Yikes. Laughable claims of getting back to the partner seem so insincere they make me want to vomit. Have a great day!


@Sincerity and Truth - I hope you've exaggerated the situation. My couple of trips to the SSC to go to the roasting events really does not offer me any insight into the day to day working environment of the corporate headquarters so I risk that this post will be me writing in a very uninformed way.
Sadly though, I have met a few people who were fairly highly placed where my gut impression was that person was totally goal-oriented and not interested in the human aspect of their decisions. The human aspect is putting yourself in the shoes of everyone at the store level - including partner and customer - and not just focusing on money only.
I was reading Tribal Knowledge by John Moore and in it there's a quote where Howard Behar essentially says, "if it is ethical and legal, and the customer wants it, the barista should do it" - That's not verbatim but it shows how empowered partners were to make a customer's day with human connection, surprise and delight. I think now baristas would be afraid of 'warnings' or reprimand. It all flows from somwhere uphill.I have a lot more thoughts, but I'll stop there. I just know that I've seen the Starbucks experience work and function in many stores, and in a number of cities, and so I know that something is going right too.


Yikes to add badly written and uninformed to badly written and uniformed: My post above was more about certain SSC partners than HS himself. I don't doubt that HS passionately loves the company. I will >crawl< away from this site now ...back to stores where there's still a lot of fun to be had, and great coffee, and back to focusing on the positive that Starbucks does for its local communities and growing regions.

James Connolly

Fortune 500 CEO is an almost pathological liar, news at 11.

Out of Love

Extra Whip: I couldn't have said it any better...thus what I will say is Ditto! I heard that Behar doesn't even have an email address with the company anymore. I would attribute this to the fact that he too is discusted and disappointed by Schultz and his arrogance. The fact that he says "without loosing our soul" shows how out of touch he is. I just resigned after almost 15 years. I figure if I'm going to work for a bottom line driven/outlier managed company I might as well get paid better. Many partners over the years took less pay because they were passionate about working for a truly inspiringly different company...well those days are gone and I truly believe they will NEVER come back thus my departure. I know with certainty that many leaders feel tenured partners who have given their souls to this organization are "stuck and without new ideas" and this has proven that they do NOT value the contribution made. I want to know how do they KNOW these amazing partners do not have fresh ideas? Do they ask...they just might be astounded if they did. I am now taking what I learned (and it was a lot) and moving on in the journey of life excited about what is next. I have zero regret for leaving...this decision has lifted my spirit!!!

Ex Ca. SM

There is no doubt that at one time Starbucks was a special place to work at with a CEO who did care. However when push came to shove Howard showed what was most important, and that wasn't his partners. Its sad that the partners weren't the only ones on the losing end but so was the integrity of Mr. Schultz. May God have mercy on his soul.


Yeah and considering the tag line is based off how the company did not loose its soul, I would really like an explanation about how the store I have been a customer at for 10 years is closing in two months. The staff has all been working there for 3 years or more, the store is the friendliest and cleanliest in the entire area, they also have never butchered my simple beverage. They were not even loosing money, but because there is a drive thru down the road they have decided this store is unnecessary. There are even several other upset regulars who have organized a 1800 save my Starbucks number!


@ TiredofThis: "He basically acts like he alone led Starbucks out of the darkness." I didn't feel I needed to read 'Onward' because, long ago as a newbie to Sbux, I read 'Pour Your Heart Into It' - the other self-congratulatory book by HS about how he single-handedly took Sbux from Pike Place into the world at large.

@Bdan: You're right about Howard never leaving the company. I sat at Store Development conferences in the early- to mid- 2000's and listened to the words come straight from Howard's mouth. He got everyone fired up about how Sbux was going to have 10,000 (or was it 20,000?) stores worldwide by 2010. At that point every parameter the real estate team had been using to carefully separate winning sites from losers went out the window and devolved into an orgy of 'if it's vacant, let's get a store in it'.


ha! haven't checked in in years and i've got noting to say...except hi to anyone that remembers me. lol.


@Jabanga - *waves hi* Welcome back.


hi melody. everyone always complained that us ex-starbuckers needed to get a life and move on...well i did... but i do miss some of my friends from here. seriously though, i was just bored and checking in. i am not "back". lol.

Ex StarbucksManager

Schultz did fix some things in the store experience unless you guys tell me the shutdown for re-training didn't do any good.
Posted by: levis ragazzi
That was the biggest joke ever. Everything taught in that training was thrown out with the bathwater in less than a year. A year later, it was about speed again. There was a directive to write up employees for using shot glasses after we closed the stores to teach them otherwise. Total crap!

Starbucks did turn around after panicing needlessly. The encomy was bad for even Wal-Mart. Starbucks was never loosing money nor were they not making money. The resulting sales growth the company has seen this past year is not because of the changes they made, it's because the economy has improved and people are spending in general when they weren't a year before. What changes have really made Starbucks a better place to visit as a customer? (They sure didn't make them a better place to work). Instead of genuine interactions, customers get scrited sales pitches for instant coffee or a promo beverage. In the old days, a parter was encouraged to sample a drink they loved and speak to it, further immerse the guest in coffee culture, make a press tell a story.... not "buy via or I'll get fired."

Starbucks is probably more efficient.... but to get there they threw out the culture that made the company a place people loved to work at. When I started with teh company here was this business philosophy:
"Offer the finest coffee and beverages around, Create a great work environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. If we give our partners that rewarding environment, they'll be excited to be there and naturally engage our customers to create legendary service in the third place environment... if our customers love the product, the service, and the environment, they'll return and tell friends. When we put people first, the profit will come naturally."

Starbucks 2011: Screw people it's all about the money, holding you accountable, and if you don't make us money and sell our crap, we'll can your butt. The third place isn't about genuine connections, its about writing you up because there is dust in a recessed light 40 feet in the air, because our customers stare at the cieling when they come in, not the menu boards or our unhappy slaves... er, partners working without enough resources to not want to drop dead of exhaustion at the end of their day."

I'm sorry, but I think the company was better under Jim Donald and that's saying something. Putting on the cover of that book that the company didn't loose it's soul is a lie, and it makes that book nothing more than a big pile of dung.

Ex StarbucksManager

oh, and PS. No. It's not even about making money. I grew my stores sales 60%! 60%!!!! In a bad economy... with LESS labor than when the store was $5,000 a week ($14-18k a week when i quit). No, no respect for growing pains or sales growth...
we didn't hit promotional goals! Does it FREAKING matter that we missed our Via goal by a $100? Or that we didn't sell our USD in promo pastires if out total pastry sales were up 20%? Apparently! I bring in an extra $10,000 a week in sales, but it wasn't Via so it counted for nothing? I was told I was a failure a a manager... in the old culture, I'd have been MVP in our distrtict for what I accomplished, not beratted because I had a dust bunny in a ceiling light or got an 87% on a Quasa audit with that increase in volume with a decrease in man hours. Screw you Howard Schultz!

OKC Thunder fan

How do his shortcomings effect the rank and file employees/partners? Why should I or anyone boycott Starbuck's?

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