I have been reading a lot of CEO/founder memoirs lately and have been pleasantly surprised that most hugely successful creators haven’t had a rock-solid plan for what they were building. They may have had to pull in the reigns and tighten up a bit when steady growth occurred so they could secure funding. But, for the main foundation of their companies or ventures, their course of action was: Ready, Fire, Aim! Howard Schultz was no different as he was creating Starbucks.
Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time was fascinating in many respects to me. Schultz sincerely wanted and still strives to create a company that is inclusive and builds people up. Early in the book, Schultz recounts a tough period in his childhood when his father was injured and couldn’t work. This period of unemployment was particularly difficult for the Schultz family because it literally meant that no money was coming in to run their household. Howard Schultz may be one of the best recent rags-to-riches stories, but he never forgot that life is a struggle when people have no money.
It was refreshing to hear that through the immense success Starbucks and Schultz have enjoyed, the light of helping and contributing to the well-being of those who truly contribute to your success is still a driving force in Schultz’s life. Taking this a bit further is the unspoken part about you reward those who help you along the way. This isn't charity. It's recognizing that the people who are helping you build your company - truly helping you grow everyday - deserve a stake in the shared success. This, in turn, builds more success for everyone.
Pour Your Heart Into It is a great read to understand that successful companies and people hardly ever follow a linear or hockey-stick growth pattern. Their “overnight success” is a bumpy trail littered with dead-ends, close to the edge near falls, and reach-a-summit-just-to-see-the-next-one adventures.
If you read the book and listen for the threads of optimism, advocacy, and love for people, I think you’ll come away pleasantly pleased with your time spent hearing Schultz recount the early days of one of the most successful and iconic businesses to emerge over the last 40+ years. If you want a business parable about staying true to your vision, not burning bridges, and persevering even though others call you crazy, you’ll find a gem here, as well.