Sunday, March 24, 2013

Like a BOSS.

Most of you who read this blog know that I work part-time at Starbucks.  What some might not know is that I've been there for over nine years.  In those nine-plus years, I have watched the company change significantly.  I've watched it grow, shrink a little, and then grow again in leaps and bounds.  If you've not read Onward: How Starbucks Saved its Life without Losing its Soul by Howard Schultz, I highly recommend it.  It was a valuable resource in my Creative Leadership class in graduate school, but even if you're not interested in or employed in creativity, leadership, or any other field that could benefit from this man's story, I still recommend you check it out.  It's brilliant.

A few weeks ago I had the grand pleasure of meeting Mr. Schultz.  My district won a sales raffle and was awarded a private reception with the Big Cheese himself.  It was just a short, small affair in a hotel conference room, but Howard spoke for about 45 minutes, and for that entire time everyone in the room was transfixed.  Howard is a dynamic, engaging, and interesting speaker, and a personable guy besides.  After he spoke, I muscled my way into the line and got to personally tell him how much I thought he rocked.  As I pumped his hand in a vigorous handshake, I told him how much I admired him as a leader and how much I appreciated everything he'd done for Starbucks as a company.  He asked me how long I'd been with the company, and when I told him, he said, "Wow.  Nine years.  Well, thank you for your service; I really appreciate it!"

I could go on and on about him and how much I admire him, but that's not really the point of this post.  What I really wanted to do was talk about this:

and how unbelievably awesome I think it is.  Seriously.

Anyone who wants to knock Starbucks for being a corporation can kiss my ass.  Yes, they're a corporation.  Yes, they have huge returns and profit margins.  But you know what?  "Corporation" does not equal "Evil."  They're ethical.  They are tolerant.  They are generous. As a part-time employee I get health insurance, paid vacation time, company shares that I can buy and more that are simply given to me every quarter simply for showing up to work, a free pound of coffee every week, all the free coffee I can drink, and next year after I hit my 10-year anniversary I'm eligible for a one-year sabbatical, during which time I plan to do some serious traveling and produce some major creative output.  Not too shabby. So they're a corporation with a global presence.  So what?  Starbucks, remember, started out as one little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in a marketplace in Seattle.  Any company with the right creative vision, revenue, investors, and leadership can grow up to be a global force.  The real trick is to maintain your small-business values while doing so.

I complain about my job. A lot.  I complain that I have to get up for work while most of the Western World is still asleep.  I complain that I have to freeze at a drive-thru window in the dead of winter.  I complain that I have to deal with rude people who ask stupid questions.  I complain about smelling like coffee when I leave.  I complain about eight-hour shifts on Saturdays when the entire fucking Buffalo Niagara region decides to come to my store and order nineteen Frappuccinos at a time. 

But for all that, I'm proud and honored to say that I work for Howard Schultz.  And after this?  More than ever.  You tell 'em, Howie.  Like a boss.  Like a fucking BOSS.

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