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Onward by Howard Schultz

“We are not in the coffee business, serving people. We are in the people business, serving coffee.”

Howard Schultz’s first book, Pour Your Heart into It, chronicled the rise of Starbucks from a small coffee wholesaler in Seattle to worldwide brand synonymous with delicious coffee. Onward, Schultz’s second book, chronicles Starbucks persistence through its most difficult days.

Once Starbucks became a worldwide phenomenon, Howard Schultz stepped down from the day-to-day management of Starbucks. He resigned as CEO while retaining the title of chairman. He remained committed to the heart and soul of the company while leaving the details to others. But in his absence a perfect storm started forming. The economy started to decline. Consumer confidence began falling dramatically. Starbucks’ immense growth suddenly became its greatness weakness. Quickly, Schultz saw the company he built and loves begin to disintegrate. The values he worked so hard to weave into the fabric of the company were deteriorating right in front of him. He knew he had to come back.

What you find in Onward is Schultz’s journey back into an active role at Starbucks. He faced a lot of criticism. Wall Street, employees, trusted friends, and everyone in between had harsh criticism for the returning ceo. Schultz shows us how he struggled and how he thrived.

Reading this book, it is impossible not to feel Howard Schultz’s passion and vision for Starbucks. It is not just a simple place where you get your morning coffee. It is an experience for every single person. Without his passion, Starbucks would have never become a national brand nor would have it survived the great economic recession.

This book is a perfect example of a Good to Great company. Schultz is definitely a leader who is more concerned about the task at hand instead of his own ego. This is another great book about the marriage between leadership and passion.