[September 25, 2015] George, a good friend of mine from our past army days, used to tell me often that, “I never drink good coffee because I might like it and then have to pay for it.” You see, in U.S. Army dining facilities and in our offices, coffee is most often found hot and free. Later, after one of our return from an overseas assignment I treated him to a Starbucks coffee in the Atlanta Airport. From that point on he was hooked on Starbucks.
“… at Starbucks, I’ve always said we’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business servicing coffee.” – Howard Schultz1
This is my favorite quote from Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, one that I’ve used to help others see the link between success and values. Bill and I were treated like kings at the airport Starbucks. Yes, the coffee was good (and the food too) but it was the service that really hooked Bill onto Starbucks as a company he could give his business to any day.
Starbucks core values are written like a philosophy and they are:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo.
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
- We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.
Pretty good stuff from a company that sells good coffee … rather, I mean a company that serves people good coffee. The distinction is important enough that Starbucks ranks in the top 25 Best Companies in America2. No wonder their mission statement says they exist to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”3
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- The Howard Schultz quote is from the book titled, It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks, by Howard Behar, The Penguin Group, 2007. Along this line of thinking he also said, “When we began Starbucks, what I wanted to try to do was to create a set of values, guiding principles, and culture.”