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How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
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How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,699 Ratings  ·  1,497 Reviews
Now in paperback, the national bestselling riches-to-rags true story of an advertising executive who had it all, then lost it all—and was finally redeemed by his new job, and his twenty-eight-year-old boss, at Starbucks.

In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a mansion in the suburbs, a wife and loving children, a six-figure salary, and an Ivy League education. But
Paperback, 268 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Avery (first published January 1st 2007)
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Oct 07, 2008 Jamie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Author Michael Gates Gill was handed a cushy job as an executive at a major advertising agency, but he had sacrificed a lot of time with his family and opportunities for personal development to get where was. Eventually Gill is unceremoniously fired from that job for being too old and too expensive, and soon after THAT he has an affair that leaves him with a broken marriage and a new son. Gill is edging ever closer to being financially destitute when a 28-year old African American woman managing ...more
Sep 15, 2008 cat rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i wish there were a Goodreads shelf for "read a little bit, threw up in my mouth, and returned the book to the library as quickly as humanly possible because i felt dirty with it in my hands".

DO NOT read this book (or attempt to listen to it on CD, as i did). the NYTimes does a way better review than i ever could, so go here or just read this snippet from the review and back away from the book quickly:

"From there the book lapses into a four-step: Gill st
Jan 17, 2009 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I forced myself to finish this. It was predictable, slow and painfully drawn-out. The entire book is basically this man talking about coffee and making coffee and how he has trouble making coffee and why he likes making coffee. He talks about how he used to work at an ad agency and what he learned at the ad agency and how it's different from making coffee and how he loves making coffee but he has trouble making coffee and he was good at working at an ad agency and how it's different from making ...more
Mar 07, 2008 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of starbucks, mitch albom and happy endings
someone left this on my plane trip to sydney and i picked it up. its so refreshing after reading that piece of crap eat pray love. im anti-starbucks (sorry jessica!) but i do have to say that this was a great book and it made me a little less anti starbucks. its a great story about an older gentleman who loses his successful job in advertising (his own mentor fired him) and finds himself at a starbucks one day where they happen to be conducting an open house. hes mistaken for a job applicant and ...more
Mar 14, 2009 Cortney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was impressed with the depth of introspection that Mr Gill explored. While reading this book, I was reminded of another book I recently read- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich. The books were similar and yet so very different. Ms Ehrenreich conducted a sort of social experiment in which she took on low-wage jobs to see how people manage to make ends meet on minimum wage. Mr Gill took on a job at Starbucks after he lost everyt ...more
Oct 06, 2008 Kaye rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, this book went on and on. The parts I liked: Michael Gates Gill trying to fit in with his new life. What I didn't: everything else. Basically, the flaws are these: Gill repeats himself ad nauseum, as if I can't remember the role that a barista plays in a Starbucks. Each chapter involves a recap where he re-explains how to weigh the cash, or that he has to pour coffee and take money. Ugh. I found the repeated explanations kind of insulting, to tell the truth. Also, the entire thing reads l ...more
I'm not exactly sure how many stars to give this book. First off I hated the title, but then I found myself crying while I read it. What has happened to me? I think I was hijacked by some sort of crazy case of sentimentality, but then again, I have to admit that the tone of the book was really quite moving. The writing style is extremely simple, but in each page you could find a lot of optimism and joy.

In a way, I think this book is a great foil to Eat Pray and Love. Both writers are skilled wi
Rob Slaven
I read this book because I was having one of THOSE Saturday mornings. Have you ever had one of those mornings when you just need something… something to read and since your wife is one of those really wonderfully bookish people you happen to have just stacks and stacks of books handy and can pick something rather randomly and sit down to read it? It’s rather like living in a library staffed by an impossibly sweet and wonderful person who you also happen to get to sleep next to. At any rate, I di ...more
Aug 09, 2009 Naomi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the WORST freaking book I have EVER read. Grade: shit minus. I cannot emphasize this enough. OMG, I would rather drive nails into my feet than to have to read this. In fairness, I listened to this on CD, so perhaps my perspective would change had I read the text. Unfortunately, this was what I grabbed from the library for a road trip in an area with nearly no radio stations (I don't have Sirius, which is greatly unfortunate), so I plodded on. Want to increase your likelihood to engage in ...more
Mar 14, 2008 Wendi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I listened to the audiobook version at work, which may have tainted my listening a bit. The strangely melancholic piano music didn't help things. I found it interesting that the writer is from and lives in Bronxville, and even ends up working at the Bronxville Starbucks (which, yeah, I've been to), but I didn't believe in him and the story he was telling. His constant apologizing for how horrible he'd been to his children and his unthinking endorsement of all things Starbucks ... none of that se ...more
Apr 25, 2013 Farah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book is trying to sell us the story of how his life was changed as he became a "regular" guy just getting by while working at Starbucks. This might be easier to believe if he wasn't constantly throwing in stories of how he once rubbed elbows with Queen Elizabeth, or ran with the bulls in Spain because Ernest Hemingway told him he should, or that one time he met Frank Sinatra, blah, blah, blah.
I liked this book in a lot of ways because I am a fan of Starbucks. My own experiences with Starbucks coincide with what the author tells us. When my son passed away in 2004 I struggled to control my depression. I was often in Starbucks, drinking coffee and crying. I was given extra free shots of espresso and even free cups of coffee as the staff tried to do what they could to ease my pain. When traveling with my special needs son, who has to eat on a schedule and a special diet, we have always ...more
Sarah H. Alshareef
i admit that i have decided to read this book because of my desperate need for a job that adds a value to my life, So i read it to get some inspirations and motivations. Frankly, I hate Starbucks, i rarely go there and if i did i only order a frappuccino with extra caramel, plus, i don't drink coffee. As i go through Michael or Mike "as his partners at Starbucks call him" life, i can feel his desperate need for a job after he had been fired. He is so optimistic, determined, tolerant, and kind pe ...more
Apr 21, 2008 Holly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Starbucks employees... I mean "Partners"
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2008 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of the 'bucks
The premise of this memoir is that a 64 year old former exec. is fired from his lucrative job in advertising only to find himself working at a Starbucks store. As you may have gathered by the title, the author actually found that his job schlepping coffee was more rewarding (though not more lucrative) than his former life of privilege. I enjoyed this book, but the flaws lie largely in the fact that the author is not a writer--nor, apparently was he very aware of the world around him. When he tal ...more
I'll rate this a 3 for the content, but only a 2 for the writing. Gill has a bad habit of jumping around, especially when he's name dropping..."That reminded me of Ali" "that reminded me when I bumped the Queen's arm to get to a cucumber sandwich" "My daughter is making a film with 50 cent, not that I know who that is"...and then when he gets back to the real story, you forget what the point is.

He'll also foreshadow some things, but in reality tell you everything...then when he gets to telling
Nov 08, 2008 P'ster rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to P'ster by: Karen
While I appreciate the 'better late than never' spiritual awakening at the core of this memoir, it's also got to be the biggest product placement ad I've come across in a long while (case in point: I don't even frequent Starbucks and it made me crave a Mochachino). While feelgood tales will always abound of white folks, and white men specifically, realizing the lifelong racist, sexist, ageist, etc. attitudes that come with power and privilege, and, as in Michael Gates Gill's case, realizing that ...more
Jun 19, 2009 Shanan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book was really not very impressive. The author had an annoying tendency to wonder--like he would be talking about a meeting with his boss and then go off on a tangent about meeting Hemingway and then try to go back to meeting with his boss. If this is really how he thinks/acts on a daily basis I don't know how he gets anything done.

But more then that, I really was not that impressed with the story. Was his change that much different from anyone else who changes jobs? I don't think so. If S
After working many years with an advertising agency, Michael Gates Gill, age 60, is downsized. He starts up his own consulting firm, but after awhile the business fails to attract a steady clientele. Meanwhile, Gill must work through a number of personal problems that make it difficult to concentrate on his professional life and career. One day he finds himself in the midst of a Starbucks job fair – unemployed, depressed, and somewhat desperate. When his manager-to-be, Crystal Thompson, asks him ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book read by Dylan Baker

Gill was a highly-paid executive with the largest, most prestigious advertising agency in New York City when, at age 53, he was fired. The agency had a new owner who wanted “young” people in charge, and Gill had become superfluous. He struggled with forming his own consulting firm, and had some modest success … for a few years. But 10 years later, when the reader first meets Gill, he is sitting at Starbucks hoping against hope that his phone will ring and enjoying a
Chet Makoski
It was not very well written. Quite self-centered, but that is the nature of the story. I found it very interesting to get background on how Starbucks stores function and are managed. I can now use the bathroom without feeling I have to buy something to earn entry. But I probably will anyway because I love what they sell and how they create a creative spirit in the store. Even when I want a quick drink to go, I never drive through, rather walk in to be exposed to the environment, see what music ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Jamie rated it it was ok
While at the library waiting for our kids, my neighbor Moya and I were chatting. I walked by the front desk and saw this title and immediately brought it to Moya for her to read (as she is a self proclaimed starbucks fan -- she describes it as her "therapy"). She said, "Oh I have heard about it" and she described it a little to me. So I opened it and started reading and ended up taking it home to finish.

It is OK. Parts I liked and parts I hated.

Some observations
1. He was greatly humbled by los
Sam Ang
Jun 02, 2012 Sam Ang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motivation
The full article of the review is available here:

When I first saw this book, I thought of how ridiculous this title is, and that it is just another marketing ploy for Starbucks, another big shot corporation that has not earned enough. Intrigue led me to take a look, and flipping through the first few pages changed my perception of this book, so I bought it to try out.

This book is similar to a biography but written in a more interesting way. It does not pro
Joyce McCombs
Jan 05, 2009 Joyce McCombs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend recommended this and I thought it would be a bit dry and business like, but it turned out to be an exhilarating read, full of every day wisdom, real people and situations that anyone can identify with. The author, a high powered business man who loses everything (marriage, kids, high paying job) takes a job at Starbucks that literally changes his life. The pace of the book is quick, and the lessons he learns are honest, and there's no heavy handed moral tone at all - just profound grati ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Im rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holiday-book
When I started to read this book,I can't put it down.It is very interesting and inspiring.I gained many valuable insights about real working.Mr Michael makes me know another aspect of corporate world.I have better aspect of my future job.Sometimes life gives us lesson and golden opportunity that we have never expected.Behind the big failure is the big happiness that we have never known.Simple happiness makes very difference in our life.Working environment plays very important role in our life.So ...more
Michelle Bouchor
Dec 20, 2008 Michelle Bouchor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book because it was a good look at how things were just terrific for this man and then he lost his job, wife, kids and house; admittingly some of which he had control over and some he didn't. I know some of the reviews didn't like this book, but it was inspiring to me that he was honest enough to admit that working at Starbucks was beneath him at one point. I think it takes someone who has done a lot of soul searching to come to that honest opinion of themselves. Also, he made sev ...more
Holden Lyons
Aug 28, 2014 Holden Lyons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-reading
'How Starbucks Saved My Life" is a very uplifting and inspirational novel. The story is about a high powered advertising executive who finds himself getting a pink slip. The high powered executive goes from a luxurious life with a hefty income, a loving family, and a "perfect life". Eventually Michael Gill finds himself working at a Starbucks away from the East side of New York City which he was comfortable with. After working at Starbucks he truly learns Respect and what a loving work environme ...more
When you hear the title "How Starbucks Saved My Life," you automatically find yourself intrigued. How can the mega-chain save someone's life, and why was it significant enough to write a book about? I picked up a copy, read the synopsis, and thought I'd give the book a try. It didn't seem particularly interesting, but I figured I could get through the book. Michael Gates Gill, the aforementioned "son of privilege" that "learns to live like everyone else," tells his story and the life lessons he ...more
Aug 16, 2015 Patricia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book two stars instead of one because I appreciate what Gill is trying to do: inspire people to find value in themselves and others, to pursue their real dreams instead of trying to attain empty status symbols.

Unfortunately, the book is also very poorly written. The pacing is rushed and full of odd, awkwardly placed flashbacks. The dialogue is clunky and overly simplistic, and so is much of the rest of the story. For instance, he gives this oddly understated description of his w
Jan 09, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-2015, 2015
I found this book to be a quick and uplifting read. It can be devastating to lose a job after many years, and not be able to find something that is comparable in both what you do and what you are paid. In this book "Mike" finds out that all his years of working in advertising were spent doing something that he did not truly love, and was at the expense of his family and his own inner self. To find a job that met all the needs of his inner self at this point in his life was a true blessing for "M ...more
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“Isn't it amazing in life how one minute you are devastated by some news, but then, a few seconds later, your desperate need to survive at any price kicks in and you can find some way to turn it around in your head?” 12 likes
“I think it's true that the older you get, the more you cry” 5 likes
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