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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life…
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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul (2011)

by Howard Schultz

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I'm not really sure why I decided to read this book. I mean, I drink Starbucks coffee (who doesn't?) but I've never been particularly interested in business or the theory behind it. Which probably means that I'm not ideally placed to review it. However, for what it's worth, I started off fascinated and quickly descended into boredom.

To qualify - I really did find it interesting to learn about the small origins of the world's biggest coffee company, and to find out about the combination of good luck and good management that lead to its growth. I also really felt Schultz's personal connection to all his stores and staff - he writes about them as parents would write about their children - and I, against my instincts, warmed to him over the course of the book. However, the book quickly became repetitive (I mean, how much is there really to say about a chain of coffee shops?) and as Schultz repeated his business mantras over and over again, I became rather turned off. ( )
  Literary_butterfly | Nov 4, 2012 |
“Onward” documents Starbucks fall from glory and the second coming of Howard Schultz – Starbucks’ first CEO, who returned to his position after stepping down from daily operations nearly seven years prior. Whether or not one is a Starbucks devotee, “Onward” is well-told and packed with great business acumen and leadership insights. B+ ( )
  bsanner | Oct 23, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
One of my most favorite Early Reviewer books yet and I had to share with everyone once I finished. I’d been eyeing Onward every time I walked into Starbucks and heard so much about it that when it showed up in my mailbox I was so excited!

Onward is the story of how Starbucks struggled up and down with change (in almost every way) and pulled out on top through perseverance and strength. In the end, the one thing Starbucks refused to give us was the core of the company, the culture and soul that the community had come to love and trust.

Delving into many factors, including the economic downturn, product testing, new/old stores, Schultz digs deep into how he kept the company he loves from succumbing to hard times and giving up.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, no matter where you work or the stage of your life. The lessons Schultz touches on work for any time and place! ( )
  blondierocket | Sep 28, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took a while for me to get into this; I received it as an audio book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and it is no longer easy for me to play audiobook CDs in a convenient manner.

In my work with small businesses (many of them solo operations) I try to find ways to relate what they are hearing in the media about larger enterprises to their own situations. While much of what Schultz discusses is to the concerns of a large global organization, there were some sparks of interest to all organizations and leaders, no matter what size. It is not an easy road to travel but with passion, an open mind, and a group you can rely on to delegate responsibly and some to help bounce ideas off of, leading an organization can be quite the experience. I thank Schultz for sharing the journey.

Overall, Onward was interesting to listen to and I'd like to reread it as paper one day because it does not quite flow in a coherent manner when listened to as an audio book, or at least it was impossible for me to easily flip back and reread something mentioned earlier. Additionally if I was educated in Starbucks history some of the bouncing would have made more sense to me and the name dropping became repetitive and annoying at times, but I understand Schultz's need to do so. ( )
  pennyshima | Aug 15, 2011 |
OK, this was fun to read. It DID make me want to rush out to Starbucks and order a latte, but I suppose that was part of the point of writing the book. Howard Schultz describes coming back as ceo at Starbucks in 2008 when the company was in serious financial trouble. He talks about the spirit of his company -- integrating socially responsible business practices with a superior product line. What happens when the economy tanks and your business begins to look shaky? Do you abandon your principles to save your business? Howard Schultz says his business and his principles are inseparable and proves it by bringing Starbucks back from disaster. He did have to close stores and lay off people, but those employees who stayed with Starbucks kept their health insurance and the coffee growers kept the support that Starbucks is famous for. Not a brilliant book, but inspiring to learn how he fought for his company and his principles. Other reviewers have complained that the book is very repetitive and that is true, but I still enjoyed the first 70% of it. ( )
1 vote krazy4katz | Jul 14, 2011 |
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"This date is very special to me," I said to the baristas and their store manager, who were seated around me in a small restaurant.
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Book description
In 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became chairman. Concerned that Starbucks had lost its way, Schultz was determined to help it return to its core values and restore not only its financial health, but also its soul. In Onward, he shares the remarkable story of his return and the company's ongoing transformation under his leadership, revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity.

Offering readers a snapshot of a moment in history that left no company unscathed, the book zooms in to show, in riveting detail, how one company struggled and recreated itself in the midst of it all. The fastpaced narrative is driven by day-to-day tension as conflicts arise and lets readers into Schultz's psyche as he comes to terms with his limitations and evolving leadership style. Onward is a compelling, candid narrative documenting the maturing of a brand as well as a businessman.

Onward represents Schultz's central leadership philosophy: It's not just about winning, but the right way to win. Ultimately, he gives readers what he strives to deliver every day—a sense of hope that, no matter how tough times get, the future can be just as or more successful than the past, whatever one defines success to be.
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In 2008, eight years after stepping down as Starbucks' CEO, Schultz returned to oversee the company's operations during a moment in history that left no company unscathed. "Onward" tells the remarkable story of Schultz's return and the company's ongoing transformation.… (more)

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