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It's Not about the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks
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It's Not about the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  576 ratings  ·  83 reviews
During his many years as a senior executive at Starbucks, Howard Behar helped establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses people over profits. He coached hundreds of leaders at every level and helped the company grow into a world-renowned brand. Now he reveals the ten principles that guided his leadership-and not one of them is about coffee. Behar shows that if you thi ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Portfolio (first published January 1st 2005)
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This is an important book to read. But the basic message was simple:

- Know your values and stick to them.
- Be honest
- Be open and communicate what you want
- Allow people to choose their own path
- Treat your peeps as humans.

Not rocket science, but an important message. Probably good to read the book to reinforce the message, though it may be somewhat obvious.
Kevin Buckley
This may be the worst book I have ever read. I felt like I read a 160 page advertisement for Starbucks. Every chapter is the same "Starbucks is successful because I found a way to put people first." You will read about countless example of how the author put people first and learned a life lesson. He is definitely a fan of tooting his own horn.
Nick Richtsmeier
It's unfair to call this book truly terrible. But sometimes life is unfair. Howard Behar's exploration into what makes him such a lovable huggy bear of a COO is not only a long and dull trope of quotes and self-important anecdotes, it is a one more corporate megalomaniacs attempt to make his career expanding efforts sound like the work of Mother Teresa.
Apparently (by his own description) Behar is known far and wide for the wall of framed quotes (by the dozens) that make up his office walls. He
This comes across as more of a motivational book than a business book. The learnings proposed are just too basic and revolve around being a servant leader. I've read a few other books on Starbucks, and the other books had quite a bit of detail on the issues that Starbucks faced. This is more along the lines of a paragraph or two on how the author dealt with something at Starbucks (or the furniture company he worked at before Starbucks), or how Starbucks made mistakes along the way, or, oddly, ho ...more
I'll admit it right up front, I'm not a big fan of Starbucks coffee. It always tastes bitter and a little burned to me. However, I seem to be on a business book kick and this book intrigued me. I think I read it over the course of 4 days and I kept saying, "Yes, THAT'S exactly what I think!" (My husband thought I was crazy and eventually stopped asking me "What?")

It's a tough job being a thoughtful, good leader. Without actually talking to his employees, it seems that Behar is that sort of leade
Emily Dy
Apr 30, 2012 Emily Dy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: Starbucks Philippines
How about a business book that says..

"Do it because it's right,
not because it's right for your resume."

A former company President whose formula for the worker-workplace-success relationship is:

"When someone brings their passion to work,
and it is aligned with the wrk of the organization,
success is the natural outcome."

and whose advice to leaders simply is:

"Wear one hat."

The hat referring to a personality, a center, a self. And the key to life is first finding that hat, and then finding the job
There is not a single original thought in this book. The lessons boil down to this: (1) be true to yourself, (2) love what you do, (3) listen to people, and (4) don't lie even when things get bad. Maybe I've read too many business books, but there's no need to read this one if you've read anything else. He basically outlines other great business writers (like Jim Collins), and even the language is extremely simple--this is business lite.

The only redeemable parts of this book were when he was tal
I really struggle with leadership and business books. Too often, they are basic and superficial. This is better than most, but it still lacks a piece of truth. A CEO talking about "the business" is a bit like the President talking about the Country. You can tell they are missing the reality of the business, and they live in the theory of the business.
Got this audiobook for my drive up north on vacation. I tried a couple fiction audiobooks first, but they were too boring or too vulgar. I could listen to this with a bit of interest and with my toddler in the car.

Fascinating look into a corporate philosophy developed by hippies. Very positive sounding and New Age. Eastern religions referenced heavily. Quotes from major religions and famous people cherry picked to support various points. It reminded me of Junior League training. Positive, but va
Katherine Wallace
I don’t normally complete a written book review but I believe one is required here in order to spare other readers the disappointment, and to stop them from wasting their time. I had read a couple reviews before reading this book that were both good and bad. A couple years ago I read Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schaltz and loved it. I found the story engaging and insightful. You didn’t have to be a lover of Starbucks to appreciate the story that Ho ...more
This book is written around 10 lessons or principles, such as "Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat", "Build Trust: Care, Like You Really Mean It" and "Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds Like the Truth". The principles make sense. As the subtitle indicates, his main point is that it's about the people.

Each chapter relays a story from the author's time at Starbucks to emphasize his point. However, I didn't feel that it was overly filled with Starbucks' history. In fact, I think I was hoping to learn
Jeff Scott
This was an excellent leadership book. I was intrigued by it by the recent national closure of starbucks for training. They didn't train them to make better coffee, but to find a higher purpose. It's extremely important for people to find a higher purpose in their jobs. As a library manager, it would seem easy to understand the higher purpose. Like any organization, people lose that feeling and I felt this book was good at providing a way to get that back.

Some quotes:

"Principles sound simple. Th
True to the title, "It's Not About the Coffee" explores the underlying motivations and sustainable ways to building a long-lasting brand. Howard Behar applies his experience at Starbucks to highlight numerous ways to kicking a brand into gear and moving goals into action and accomplishment.

He asserts that knowledge sharing, independent thinking, genuine caring and accountability are powerful ways to grow the human connection in an organization, leading to greater productivity and brand loyalty.
Noma Bruton
There is so much wisdom in this book, I don't know where to begin. He describes leadership principles developed through personal experience. In that way, it is similar to Colin Powell's, It Worked For Me… Every chapter is packed with practical advice. Read it all or just the chapters you need.
A really great read. The book provides insight into how Starbucks grew by providing some pretty solid leadership and growth principles. In reality, the insights that the author shared can be used in everyday life even if your life focus isn't business.
Short quick chapters with great insight into putting customers (both external and internal) first. Behar demonstrates the qualities of how great leaders operate and how they can take a business to the next level. Good, quick and inspiring read.
Karina Benninger
The contents and advice in this book were incredibly generic and full of buzzwords and business jargon. I couldn't even finish the whole book.
Intriguing read. Author (President of Starbucks International) provides lots of anecdotal information, from his own personal experiences of successes and failures, of what true leadership is and how to successfully manage the important task of leading others.
His overriding thesis is that TRUE and successful leaders focus on the people you are leading (and serving) -- rather than on the product or service that is being provided. Leadership involves being unselfish, genuine, authentic, trustworthy
I can't believe how good this book was, and highly recommend it, especially to those working in the corporate world.
I'd say 3.5-4 stars. There is some good stuff in this book an as with all of year kinds of books-- it is about 30-40 too long.
Deb Bryan
Remarkable perspective, concepts, and principles of leadership and customer service for business.
Inspiring. The book is not about coffee. It's not really about Starbucks either. It's about how to be a better self & a better leader.
I have read a couple of Starbooks leadership/management books now and I am trying to find out how what Howard Schultz and Howard Behar think got lost in the stores. Yes, the baristas are friendly and caring but they don't seem to be engaged in what they do anymore. Are the store managers responsible for instilling the corporate culture?

Nevertheless, this book and the Howard's thoughts and advice on leadership definately make me want to be this type of leader when I am in a position of power.
James Marsh
It's Really Not About the Coffee

This book is very easy to read and the leadership principles are very down to earth and practical. I would highly suggest it for anyone trying to grind themselves (yes I did it - don't worry the book does not have puns that bad) into a leadership role.

I could have used more about Starbucks and it's history. We have a few anecdotes, but they are so short and bare boned they really don't add much flavor. (I'll stop - I promise)
Sep 24, 2008 Patricia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erica, Vickie, Kristen
Shelves: business
This a general business book written by a former Starbucks executive. I've met Howard Behar (not Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, the "other Howard") and he's a nice, down to earth kind of guy. This books doesn't break any new ground but it lays out a good philosophy for being successful and staying connected to your people that I think Vickie, Erica and Kristen especially will appreciate. A quick read, worth it.
Nathan Langford
A good book on business leadership with human/humanity values. It resonated with me. It is also a good book to read to help people find their job path - reading in chapters one and two - about being true to yourself and who you are and how you prioritize your values is first and most important and that some jobs, positions with businesses or companies do not 'fit' who you are.

I will keep this one on a close shelf.
Grandiose and monotous, this book is not a helpful leadership tool. Howard Behar has good ideas about more communal and compassionate leadership strategy, which I really agree with and support. But the way he communicates his ideas comes across as preaching, and he does not connect it to real life business situations at Starbucks enough. Overall, I found this book very disappointing.
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Starbucks smegenys Sutābakkusu O Sekaiichi Ni Suru Tame Ni Mamoritsuzukete Kita Taisetsu Na Gensoku Step Back From The Baggage Claim: Change The World, Start At The Airport

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“Do it because it's right, not because it's right for your resume.” 4 likes
“Unfortunately, in many cases, the rule book goes way too far - it tries to tell people how to be instead of explaining what we're trying to do.. We need recipes, not rules.” 1 likes
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