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How Howard Schultz’s Magnificent Obsession Has Caffeinated Starbuck’s Growth

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

– Howard Schultz (Founder of Starbucks)

When Howard Schultz came to Starbucks he had just finished taking time off from his corporate career to figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, and Starbucks was just a small coffee shop with no big growth plans. However, while traveling around the world he found his magnificent obsession as he stumbled across these people called “baristas” who ran these small little coffee shops that were all over Italy. He became fascinated that these shops dominated the cities and were a central part of these local Italian communities. People would gather at them to share stories and to build relationships while enjoying a cup of coffee. Once he witnessed these “baristas” at work at these small Italian coffee shops, he was hooked. He became obsessed with the notion that every city in America would benefit greatly by having several of these local coffee shops. He knew that the crappy, burnt, and lukewarm coffee that Americans were choking down each morning to wake themselves up was not good enough. He knew that if he could truly recreate the ambiance and the aura of these small little coffee shops throughout America, it would work. He wasn’t really concerned with how much it would cost or all of the reasons why it wouldn’t work. He wasn’t deterred that Americans were used to paying less than a dollar for their crappy coffee. He wasn’t concerned that nothing that existed in the United States. He wasn’t worried that he would have to introduce a concept, a store, a way of life, and a product into the marketplace. He was filled with a delusional optimism that was being brought about as a result of his passion for the product and service.

After quitting his comfortable white collar job to go to work for a small Seattle-based coffee shop, Schultz simply wouldn’t stop talking about his desire create a “third place.” He was obsessed with the concept of creating a place that wasn’t home and it wasn’t work, but it was uniquely Starbucks. He went from hoping that it would happen to committing to make it happen. His faith in his crazy plan to open multiple Starbucks stores in every American city drove the company to billion dollar business status and beyond. People bought into his vision because it was big, it was challenging, it was for the good of America, and he was sold out to it. My friend if you have goals that are small and weak, no “A Players” are going to want to come and work for you. Nobody aspires to go to work someday for a stagnant, small, or medium sized business. Set a big vision that makes sense and that you are passionate about and just watch the people get on board to help you.
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch (Former CEO of GE)

To make this program work for you, here is what you need to do:

  • Write down your vision on one sheet of paper.
  • Work with yourself, your leadership team or your spouse to articulate the vision to the best of your ability in the form of a mission statement and stated company values.
  • Own the visions by committing to work on your plan until your vision becomes reality, not if your vision becomes a reality.
  • Tirelessly pour your heart, soul, energy, and passion into your business. Your business must become your magnificent obsession, or it will fail.
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About Clay Clark

Clay Clark is the CEO, Show Host and Visionary of Clark has been a U.S. SBA Entrepreneur of the Year, a Metro Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and the U.S. Chamber National Blue Ribbon Quality Award Winner. As a business consultant, entertainer and educator his clients over the years have included: Hewlett…