Margot's Reviews > Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul

Onward by Howard Schultz
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Jul 17, 12

bookshelves: audio-books, business, memoir, 2012
Read from July 05 to 17, 2012

As a memoir or a biography, this was a terrible example. Actually, it reads more like a biography written by someone else. The narrative is distant from Schultz, giving you zero insight into him personally or how he personally coped with the struggles of these years bringing Starbucks back to profitability.

Onward comes off more as a biography of the company itself. Or, more accurately, as a very detailed presentation to investors and potentially investors: here's how we messed up, here's what I did to fix it, here's how we're so great now. On top of being rather dry and impersonal, Onward is also extremely repetitive at times (I can definitely point to a few places where Copy and Paste were utilized) and the organization of the book really needed some work.

Having worked as a barista at Starbucks for almost two years, up nearly through the end of 2008, I was already familiar with a lot of the new products and initiatives Schultz outlines in this book. If you're a really really big fan of Starbucks and don't already have an inside view of their mission, vision, and philanthropic initiatives then sure, give this book a read. Otherwise, flip to the back of the book and just read the "Tribute" section to get a one-chapter summary of the entire book. Or skip this book all together and read my CliffsNotes instead:

Starbucks is actually not an evil corporation. They have a ton of philanthropic partnerships, not to mention providing health insurance to their part-time employees (they were the first to offer such health benefits). They are also a leader in the fields of fair business practices (they go above and beyond just buying fair trade beans) and environmental stewardship.

They make yummy drinks and food. (The "burnt" coffee flavor of some of their brews is actually bold and is supposed to taste that way. Some people like bold coffee.) And their cafes have a nice vibe and are awesome to hang out in.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Abby I agree with how impersonal it sounds, and it doesn't quite sound like his voice. it was ghostwritten, and that may be part of the reason why.


Margot Abby wrote: "I agree with how impersonal it sounds, and it doesn't quite sound like his voice. it was ghostwritten, and that may be part of the reason why."

Yeah, I kind of figured it must have been ghostwritten. That's really too bad. Even
Walter Isaacson in his biography on Steve Jobs succeeded in giving us an inside look at the man behind the company.


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