236 | Starbucks: Filling Your Soul With Howard Behar

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Howard Behar

What does your Soul have to do with Leadership? Howard Behar is the former President of Starbucks. On this episode, we discuss the connection between the soul and how we lead. How we show up every day is the rewarding challenging we can engage in, in order to remain in tune with life’s work. Howard’s key message is about valuing the people we serve. This is a first and foremost priority that comes before anything else.

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Target Audience: Howard serves anyone who wants to become a better human being and a better leader. That pretty much covers everyone in the world.

Howard is the son of 2 immigrants who settled in Seattle. He shares how they didn’t have much but there was always love. His Mom and Dad had a mom and pop business (grocery store) – so there was always food on the table.

Leadership at Starbucks

Howard joined the Starbucks team when there were only 28 stores. At the time, he was actually trying to escape the corporate life. He was In search of something that filled his soul. Howard shares how his journey with Starbucks was one heck of a ride- it was one fast pony where the business quickly grew from 28 stores to 24,000 (today).

Why Did You Have to Feed Your Soul?

Howard says he always had to have a purpose greater than myself. He felt that whatever job he had, he needed to feel like he couldn’t wait to do it when he got up in the morning. And so it was with Starbucks. What motivated him each and every day was the fact that they weren’t serving customers, but human beings

It’s About Going From Success to Significance

What really matters is what you are contributing to the world. When you look back it’s not going to be about the money you made.

What are the Key Values of a Company and a Person?

It requires thought. The intention could always be about loving people. This required Howard to look inside himself and identify who he was as a person. Once one does that, it is amazing how you come together with others (connect) and how you get to live a more caring and productive life.

The Connection Between Great Leadership & Leading Through Values

Great leadership lives its values. Take children for example. Children don’t pay attention to what you say but what you DO. If you say you ‘care’ about people, what does that actually mean? People are not assets- but human beings. Howard wants to be known for nurturing the human spirit.


Howard’s mission is to live his life every day nurturing and inspiring the human spirit of himself and others. He’s learned how to take care of himself- emotionally and spiritually. The mission of Starbucks truly resonated with him. It’s what mattered to him. Howard says, “We’re not in the coffee business serving people, but we’re in the people business serving coffee.”

People need to know what you are about. Howard has given the same speech of how it’s about people. You can’t get bored as a leader talking about what your mission is about if you truly believe in your message.

Practical and Actionable

Howard used to send birthday and company anniversary cards until they hit 10,000 people. He then would just send them out to management- which they trickled out to everyone else. He’d personally sign them with a little note even if he didn’t know them. People until this day still have the notes in their cubicles/offices. It doesn’t take much to show people care- other than that one extra second. Those kinds of messages stay with an organization forever.

Don’t just say how much you care. SHOW IT!

Resources and Links

How is your business going…would you like to talk about it?

I love my audience of listeners. I really do. I would love to help you in some way. I started doing calls with listeners and realized that it was a great way to understand you.

Okay, then I formalized the process to offer a Results Roadmap… it is a private one-on-one call with me about your business. I want to help you see your roadmap with more clarity and confidence. Find out more about the Results Roadmap (it takes you to my personal website). This is not a sales pitch. Let me serve you.


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