Demosthenes Spiropoulos

D-mo's Book Club:

November 20, 2017 - Volume 3, Issue 16

Here's a book about Starbucks, that you can read at Starbucks, while enjoying a Starbucks (the Egg Nog Frappuccino is sublime)

Onward Onward
by Howard Schultz

How I came upon this book
In the break room at work, someone has been leaving random business books for people to take; free to a good home and all that. I picked up this book because I thought it might make for a good entry in this very Book Club. And you don't pass up free books.

The gist of it
Howard Schultz' second book about Starbucks, Onward recounts the time when Schultz, the founder and original CEO... oops, I mean ceo (Starbucks doesn't capitalize those titles), left that position for 7 or so years, but returned to the role for a second time in order to right the ship that he felt was off course. Oh, and as he was doing this, the Great Recession of 2008 hit, and suddenly, people didn't have the money for $4 lattes. Fun fact, Howard isn't a fan of the breakfast sandwiches.

My thoughts
This isn't a bad book. Amazingly, regardless of what type of tonal inflection you applied to the last sentence, it's probably the right one. At points, this book is legitimately inspiring, and quite the page turner. At others, unfortunately, this tome drags harder than RuPaul.

Allow me to elaborate. When Howard is painting in broad strokes, Onward is a crisp read. You learn a lot about how a business transforms itself in a very big picture way. However, when Howard is getting into the finer details, especially about meetings and conference calls (which are sorta relevant), the book hard shifts back into first gear. The devil is in the details, and the devil was stabbing me with the Pitchfork of Minutiae. For every chapter I flew through, there was a chapter where I had to look and see how much farther I had to go. There were a few points where I thought about stopping and saying, "I'm good."

I don't intend to come across as negative because there are some real solid gems in here that you can apply to your own business dealings and aspirations. At the end, Howard beautifully states, "Yes, it is possible to rise, fall, and rise again, recapture lost dreams, dream bigger, and succeed in our ever-changing, complex world - without abandoning what matters most." There are a lot of diamonds like this in the book. There just happens to be a lot of rough you've got to dig through to find said diamonds.

The verdict
If you want to gain insight on an entrepreneurial mind, pick up this book. If you're a fan of the company, and like learning about the history of Starbucks, pick up this book. If you curious about the machinations of a company's founder coming back to a CEO-type position, pick up this book. Hell, I'll even throw in that if you want to learn all the processes and hard lessons involved in "re-inventing an icon," pick up this book. Wholehearted recommendation!

However, if none of the above applies to you (and I imagine that's going to a larger majority of you), you can pass on this.

One a scale of 1-4 Library Cards, Onward gets:

Thanks for visiting. Love, Demosthenes Spiropoulos