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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

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  802 Ratings  ·  99 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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Kevin Buckley
May 31, 2012 Kevin Buckley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trevecca
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.
Jun 04, 2009 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nick Richtsmeier
May 21, 2015 Nick Richtsmeier rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2014 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
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
May 17, 2016 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
By page 7, I've realized why I like Starbucks' atmosphere but not always its principles or its coffee. The Margaret Mead quote, the blending of Eastern mythical business speak with watered-down nods to Western Christianity, and the lack of consistency are already irritating. "We need to get rid of rules -real or imagined - and encourage the independent thinking of others and ourselves." If that were true, nobody would use a timer on the coffee, Howard. "Are you letting truth be your guide" is a ...more
Mar 16, 2012 Kara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, swn
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
May 09, 2010 CJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
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 liked it
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
Mar 15, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 08, 2017 Regina rated it it was amazing
We were assigned this book to read at work. I am going to recommend it to everyone in my organization. There is a lot of wisdom on these pages, many of which I highlighted to refer to again in the future.
Jan 13, 2017 Awen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: starbucks-3
It is a call to create lives, workplaces, and a world that we can be proud of.

And I truly want to be a partner of Starbucks.
Aug 01, 2015 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
daniel dirnfeld
Dec 13, 2016 daniel dirnfeld rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book of hiw they did it because it cannot be about the coffee.
Oct 05, 2016 Prit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motivational
Loved Howard's intense style about cutting through the layers that are irrelevant. Gotta learn that!
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
Katherine Wallace
Mar 26, 2015 Katherine Wallace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 13, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
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
Nov 18, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 07, 2016 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I use to work with Howard Behar at a furniture company many years ago, so when I saw he had written a book it piqued my interest. This book was not what I was expecting. I thought I was going to be reading a book about expanding Starbucks worldwide. How introducing Starbucks' culture impacted other countries and in return how other countries impacted Starbucks mode of business.
What I got was a motivational book. There is nothing wrong with that and if I was still in the working world I might ha
Mary Thomas
Sep 08, 2016 Mary Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good sermon. Quick read.
David Fhu
10 Principles of Personal Leadership

1. Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat
2. Know Why You’re Here: Do It Because It’s Right, Not Because It’s Right for Your Resume
3. Think Independently: The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom
4. Build Trust: Care, like You Really Mean It
5. Listen for the Truth: The Walls Talk
6. Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds like the Truth
7. Take Action: Think Like a Person of Action, and Act like a Person of Thought
8. Face Challenge: We Are Human Beings First
Oct 22, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Leah Good
Oct 26, 2015 Leah Good rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book could easily be titled, "How to Make Money Without Burning Anyone." Author Howard Behar is all about ethical business leadership that puts people -- both employees and customers -- first. It was an easy, interesting read. Behar uses the pages of It's Not About the Coffee to identify foundational principles of leadership and personal goal development, and then devotes a chapter to expand upon each principle. I found some of the phraseology used to describe the points a little "new age" ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2012 James Marsh rated it really liked it
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)
Scott Wozniak
Feb 28, 2016 Scott Wozniak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Howard is the real deal. This is a book about the heart--the values that great leaders follow that result in great organizations. And he really lives them out. If you're looking for a tactical plan to boost sales or a new strategy for business, this isn't the book you want. But if you're a leader looking to build a strong foundation and deepen your love for those you lead, this is definitely the book for you.
Sep 24, 2008 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 21, 2012 Nathan Langford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Noma Bruton
Aug 12, 2016 Noma Bruton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sagacity-hr
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.
Sarah K
So-so book. Good stories and illustrations of his points, but so much of it was common sense. And so much of it felt like an ad for Starbucks. I thought the last chapter was the best--saying yes instead of no... good ideas about reframing what we should/shouldn't impose on others (customers, library patrons, etc.).
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“Do it because it's right, not because it's right for your resume.” 6 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.” 2 likes
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