5 stars for giving me a better framework for how to organize my stuff and what stuff to keep than I'd ever had before. For instance it was so freeing5 stars for giving me a better framework for how to organize my stuff and what stuff to keep than I'd ever had before. For instance it was so freeing to realize I don't have to keep gifts....more
Another hard to put down nonfiction book from Erik Larson. I really enjoyed this book - mostly to learn more about submarine warfare in WWI, but alsoAnother hard to put down nonfiction book from Erik Larson. I really enjoyed this book - mostly to learn more about submarine warfare in WWI, but also to learn about the history of the time. How America entered the war, the importance of shipping to England, the ruthlessness and autonomy of German u-boat commanders. Larson also did a great job of layering in interesting historical info (though he overdid it too a little bit).
One of the dramas of the story of the Lusitania that Larson focuses on is if the British wanted the Lusitania to be sunk, to help draw America into the war. His conclusion seems to be that was the case, though there isn't conclusive evidence. Before the Lusitania sank, very few Americans had died in the war, and there were hundreds of Americans on the boat when it sank, which definitely helped change America's attitude. And even then, it took 2 years after it sank for America's troops to arrive.
Which is crazy! Plus, the torpedoes weigh 3 thousand pounds each, so a boat could only carry ~7, and their failure rate was something like 60%. Also, they had limited fuel and operated only on batteries when submerged so they could only stay underwater for limited amounts of time. Given all this, trying to operate a u-boat to sink other boats is a pretty dangerous sounding game of chess. But they certainly had an effect on the war - at one point Britain estimated it would have to surrender in 3 months if it didn't get more supplies.
My main critique is that it had a few too many irrelevant details - about various passengers or what happened the day the boat left dock - and stuff like that - felt a bit padded in that respect. But overall, a great read.
An interesting book that describes Howards return to CEO and the challenges of getting Starbucks back on track after massive scaling and the economicAn interesting book that describes Howards return to CEO and the challenges of getting Starbucks back on track after massive scaling and the economic downturn of 2008 left it in a vulnerable position.
Howard comes across as someone that loves Starbucks - the company he created. His passion for innovation and coffee and making it work are infectious, and learning a little about his leadership style was very interesting. I particularly enjoyed his descriptions of how Starbucks went astray as it had scaled to over 20 thousand stores, and how he tackled bringing it back. "The Transformation Agenda" - because sometimes if you give change a name people will believe it's coming.
I enjoyed reading about the campaign to close all Starbucks stores to let employees watch a training video. A big statement, one that was very public, and acknowledged they knew they had issues they need to improve. Bold move, and a respected one.
My only criticism of the book is that it comes across as a lot of corporate speak. I'm not saying it's inauthentic, just that the kind of language that he needs to motivate his employees is likely different what what he needed to put in this book. But he's clearly an inspirational leader.
Howard spent a lot of time focused creating a quality experience for his customers. He realized that every piece of the Starbucks experience was crucial to building a top tier brand that stood for quality and a place that people would want to spend time at. From the smell of coffee in the store (and the related battle to have or not have cheese sandwiches), to choices people have, to the interactions with the baristas. The baristas were crucial, because with over 20 thousand stores, he had to create programs to train them and make sure they had the right values and approach.
I still love my Blue Bottle, but I have more respect when I walk into a Starbucks store now. ...more