Book Review: Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

starbucksHoward Schultz is the guy who created Starbucks as we know it today and “Pour Your Heart Into It” is his description of how it happened.

I started with the book to learn about the story of the chain I always try to visit when I go abroad (there is no Starbucks in Estonia). Starbucks just has this aura to it that makes it a perfect place to sit for a couple of hours with friends or read a good book. I also happen to like coffee a lot thus there was another reason to read the book.

The book is mainly about the history of Starbucks. Mr. Schultz does not go into much detail of his personal life or life before Starbucks. The beginning of the book is really interesting; the reader finds out about the predecessor of Starbucks, Il Giornale and also a lot about coffee in general. Mr. Schultz describes the difficult beginning and the struggles with raising the money and creating a coffee culture in the US and worldwide.

Sometime in the middle the book got a little bit boring. Long descriptions of the year-to-year growth and inputs of specific people were just not that interesting as the entrepreneurial first half of the book. Overall, a nice book to read, expecially if you fancy quality coffee and/or Starbucks.

My notes:

  • First, every company must stand for something. Second, you don’t just give the customers what they ask for. If you offer them something they’re not accustomed to, something so far superior that it takes a while to develop their palates, you can create a sense of discovery and excitement and loyalty that will bond them to you. If you do, what may seem to be a niche market could very well appeal to far more people than you imagine.
  • In the fifteen years since then, I’ve often wondered: What would have happened had I just accepted his decision? Most people, when turned down for a job, just go away.
  • Life is a series of near misses. But a lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to. In daily life you get so much pressure from friends and family and colleagues, urging you to take the easy way, to follow the prevailing wisdon, that it can be difficult not to simply accept the status quo and do what’s expected of you. But when you really believe – in yourself, in your dream – you just have to do everything you possibly can to take control and make your vision reality. No great achievement happens by luck.
  • When I start something, I immerse myself totally in it.
  • Vision is what they call it when others can’t see what you see.
  • Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.
  • If I don’t seize the opportunity, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and risk it all, if I let too much time tick on, my moment will pass.
  • But I saw the move as consistent with my life’s dream, my earliest desires to do something for myself and for my family, to achieve something unique, to be in control of my own destiny. The insecurity, the desire for respect, the burning need to rise far above the circumstances of my parents’ struggles all came together in that defining moment.
  • Most of us have to create our own opportunities and be prepared to jump when we see a big one other’s can’t see. It’s one thing to dream, but when the moment is right, you’ve got to be willing to leave what’s familiar and go out to find your own sound. That’s what I did in 1985. If I hadn’t, Starbucks wouldn’t be what it is today.
  • We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
  • In my case, part of me relished the fact that so many people said my plan couldn’t be done. No matter how many times people put me down, I believed strongly that I could pull it off.
  • If you stop being the scrappy underdog, fighting against the odds, you risk the worst fate of all: mediocrity.
  • It appears to me that people who succeed have an incredible drive to do something. They spend the energy to take the gamble. In this world, relatively few people are willing to take a large gamble. If you find someone who is, listen carefully; you may end up helping achieve a dream of amazing proportions.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • Many of us face critical moments like that in our lives when our dreams seem ready to shatter. You can never prepare or such events, but how you react to them is crucial. It is important to remember your values: Be bold, but be fair. Don’t give in. If others around you have integrity, too, you can prevail. It’s during such vulnerable times, when the unexpected curve balls hit you hard on the head, that an opportunity can be lost. It’s also the time when your strength is tested more tellingly.
  • If I sense that a person lacks integrity or principles, I cut off any dealings with him. In the long run, it’s not worth it.
  • At thirty-four, I was at the beginning of a great adventure. What would keep me on track was not the size of my holdings but my heartfelt values and my commitment to building long-term value for our shareholders. Every step of the way, I made it a point to underpromise and overdeliver. In the long tun, that’s the only way to ensure security in any job.
  • Our little management team didn’t examine our motives for wanting to grow fast. We set out to be champions, and speed was part of the equation. When I looked into the future, I saw a bold, vividly painted landscape – not a still life in subtle muted colors.
  • It was a stretch, and plenty of people told me it was impossible. But that was part of the appeal, for me and for many other people at Starbucks. Defying conventional wisdom, achieving against the odds, offers a thrill that’s hard to top.
  • Instead of a small dream, I dreamed big. If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold. Who wants a dream that’s near-fetched?
  • Whatever you can do, or dream you can, …begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
  • We didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so we just did it.
  • For me, the thrill of business is the climb. Everything we try to achieve is like climbing a steep slope, one that very few people have managed to scale. The more difficult the climb, the more gratifying the effort put into the ascent and the greater the satisfaction upon reaching the summit. But, like all dedicated mountain climbers, we’re always seeking a higher peak.
  • Without romance and vision, a business has no soul, no spirit to motivate its people to achieve something great. But a successful company can’t sustain itself on exhilarating ideas alone. Many business visionaries have failed as leaders because they could not execute. Processes and systems, discipline and efficiency are needed to create a foundation before creative ideas can be implemented and entrepreneurial vision can be realized.
  • I want to work with people who don’t leave their values at home but bring them to work, people whose principles match my own. If I see a mismatch, or a vacuum where values should be, I prefer to keep looking.
  • I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m now convinced that one of the greatest responsibilities of an entrepreneur is to imprint his values on the organization. It’s like raising children. You start with love and empathy, and if you’ve imprinted the right values on them, you can trust them to make reasonable decisions when they become teenagers and young adults. Sometimes they will dissapoint you, and sometimes they will make mistakes. But id they have absorbed good values, they will have a center line to return to.
  • Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
  • One of the fundamental aspects of leadership, I realized more and more, is the ability to instill confidence in others when you yourself are feeling insecure.
  • In business, as in life, we each whould have an internal compass that guides our decisions, an instinctive understanding of what matters most in this world.
  • Even if someone is doing right 90 percent of the time, the critics will inevitably focus on the other 10 percent. If a company sets high standards, it’s easier to judge it as wanting.
  • Success should not be measured in dollars: It’s about how you conduct the journey, and how big your heart is at the end of it.
  • Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from the efforts in one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another. Success is sweetest when it’s shared.
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