Friday, April 3, 2009

It's Not About the Coffee - Howard Behar

It's not about the coffee? How can Starbucks not be about the coffee? It's about the coffee and more :) But it was this intriguing title that caught my eye at Kinokuniya. I was looking out for a book to explain the success of Starbucks Coffee and was initially looking to buy another book with a cooler cover that had a like a takeaway Starbucks cup kinda design.

But upon examining the two books, I realised that Howard Behar is one of the three who created Starbucks to what it is today. "Better to hear from an insider than a person standing from the outside looking in," I thought. So I bought this book at a $10 discount with a $10 gift card given to me by Robin. Yay.

And as I read, I realised I love the way its written. The structure. And the book. It's the kind of style I'd use if I write a book. But mine would have more pictures. But no matter, more about the book.

Howard Behar joined Starbucks in 1989 and served as president of Starbucks International, president of Starbucks North America and the executive vice president of sales and operations. So you gotta listen to this man.

From one store in Seattle to a multimillion dollar franchise that's got franchises worldwide. How was it done? I thought I would find a step-by-step guide in this book and dove eagerly in. But of course I was wrong. Haha, how could you do that, translate 20 years of labour into a book?

But this is book of great wisdom. In 165 pages, the guiding principles of running a successful enterprise is distilled into easy to digest, flavourful and aromatic chapters. Awesome stuff.

Behar draws upon "Build to Last" and I saw the similarities quickly. But it was alright. He really talks about his experience at Starbucks in great detail, and covers snapshots of crucial moments in the company that brought about its success today.

Love the weight of the book. Its really light and easy to carry around. The dust jacket design grows on you too. In a very secure, cosy red background, the distinctive green Starbucks label stands out.

I was very impacted, because as I lead a group of people in a bookstore to fulfill their potential, Behar's words rang true. It's not about the coffee, it's all about the People. It's all about the People. Once you treat your people right, let loose their creativity and give them freedom in a structured environment, oh how they would surprise you.

So I gathered a lot of insight from the book.

This book is most suitable for executives leading a team of people in any organization. Spend 10 days on this book and you'll hone leadership skills and let shine like never before as a great leader.

This book is not an espresso where you'd be overwhelmed with potent information, more like my favorite Java Chip Frappucino, a strong but refreshing drink in tropically-hot Singapore:)

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