Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

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In 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became chairman. Concerned that Starbucks had los...
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In 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became chairman. Concerned that Starbucks had lost its way, Schultz was determined to help it return to its core values and restore not only its financial health, but also its soul. In Onward, he shares the remarkable story of his return and the company's ongoing transformation under his leadership, revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity.
 
Offering readers a snapshot of a moment in history that left no company unscathed, the book zooms in to show, in riveting detail, how one company struggled and recreated itself in the midst of it all. The fastpaced narrative is driven by day-to-day tension as conflicts arise and lets readers into Schultz's psyche as he comes to terms with his limitations and evolving leadership style. Onward is a compelling, candid narrative documenting the maturing of a brand as well as a businessman.
 
Onward represents Schultz's central leadership philosophy: It's not just about winning, but the right way to win. Ultimately, he gives readers what he strives to deliver every day—a sense of hope that, no matter how tough times get, the future can be just as or more successful than the past, whatever one defines success to be.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011Onward is not a puff piece. In just under 400 brisk pages, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz details the multitude of factors--the recession, new consumer behavior, overexpansion--that led to the company's downturn during 2007-2008. Obviously, Schultz was successful, and his book has plenty of valuable lessons about management and leadership--standard features for most business books. But the most interesting thing about Onward is Schultz's honesty about the whole process, from his determination to make difficult personnel changes to his admission that he considers it a personal failure when he sees someone with a competitor's cup of coffee. Schultz even makes the chapters about his agonies over the company's breakfast sandwiches a fascinating study in the minute decisions that go into running a multibillion-dollar company. Conflicts, raw emotions, high stakes: Onward is a business book that goes beyond feel-good maxims and actually has a story to tell. --Darryl Campbell
 

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 2000, Starbuck's founder and CEO Schultz (Pour Your Heart into It) stepped down from daily oversight of the company and assumed the role of chairman. Eight years later, in the midst of the recession and a period of decline unprecedented in the company's recent history, Schultz-feeling that the soul of his brand was at risk-returned to the CEO post. In this personal, suspenseful, and surprisingly open account, Schultz traces his own journey to help Starbucks reclaim its original customer-centric values and mission while aggressively innovating and embracing the changing landscape of technology. From the famous leaked memo that exposed his criticisms of Starbucks to new product strategies and rollouts, Schultz bares all about the painful yet often exhilarating steps he had to take to turn the company around. Peppered with stories from his childhood in tough Canarsie, N.Y., neighborhoods, his sequel to the founding of Starbucks is grittier, more gripping, and dramatic, and his voice is winning and authentic. This is a must-read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer. (Mar.) 
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
 

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpfulBy WILLIAM on April 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am just about to finish the book...only a few pages left but I had to write a review. I don't write them very often but this book really resonated with me. Unlike a lot of business books written on leadership that are based on theory, ONWARD is a true story of one man's passion to restore his vision for his company. What I really enjoyed was how he didn't glorify himself. Howard was truly authentic in his communication. He had doubts, fears and made mistakes just like we all do. Basically, what I am saying is that you can learn a lot about business from this book but you will learn even more about the mindset and strategies of a true leader and what makes him tick. I am inspired by ONWARD and can't wait to get back to it. My copy is already full of notes, ideas and plans that I have already begun to implement in my company (with noticeable results) I highly recommend ONWARD!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpfulBy Simon Ruddell on May 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Pour Your Heart Into It. Make no mistake, I love Starbucks, both as a customer and as an investor, but this volume lacks the warmth and sheer adventure of the account of the startup of Starbucks.
The most interesting aspect of this account, for me, is that it serves as a perfect illustration of how annoying American upper managament can be. Nothing is ever good enough or fast enough for this man. Everyone has to passionately commit. Everything has to be better than last year, last week, yesterday. Everything has to be done by yesterday!
The newly revamped Starbucks may be wonderful, but it is unsustainable, as is most of the American corporate model. A classic example of this is the author's breathless account of someone coming up with a good idea on a flight back to Seattle and his pride in the fact that he was able to approve the concept and get committment to a date from others on the ground so that by the time they arrived everything was in place. Would it have been such a catastrophe if everyone had taken a day to think it all through? There is a great deal of this kind of thing in this book, and in my experience dealing with American business, such freneticism is all too common.
There is a great deal of pride expressed here in doing more with less - but that cannot go on forever.
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54 of 70 people found the following review helpfulBy #saveyourkid on March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My fascination with Starbucks began as I savoured the first book 'Pour Your Heart into It' as a business school student and now continues with 'Onward', another highly inspirational read by Howard Schultz; a now humbled CEO with a natural talent for knitting powerful words together to tell an engaging motivational story that takes you through the nail biting journey of a company that went from peak to rock bottom to a slow, painful yet rewarding ride back up the mountain. I wont be surprised if this book finds itself in the business schools curriculum as a learning guide for reinventing oneself during challenging times. Get yourself a copy now!!
 

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