The Change That Howard Schultz Saw Coming One Cup at a Time by Haris Ahmed of Chicago
One of the most admirable leaders and business owners for Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert, is Howard Schultz. True, there are many success stories that are worth the read and reference but for Haris, it was Howard Schultz’s story that struck him the most. If you were to ask Haris Ahmed of Chicago to name just one person who epitomizes the true value in, and meaning of, change, it would be Howard Schultz.
Changing his personal story
Howard Schultz grew up in a poor family, in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn—the “other side of the tracks,” as he’d call it. He saw how his father struggled to provide for the family with his meager income as a truck driver. He also how the lack of medical insurance could easily wipe out one’s finances, as was the case when his father met an accident and didn’t have medical coverage to pay for his bills. To cut a long story short, Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares, Howard Schultz did everything he could to get his family out of poverty. He paid for his college education with student loans and income from part-time jobs.
Changing his personal circumstances was just among the many pivotal changes he would do to achieve success.
His Starbucks Story
Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares that a series of what would become fortuitous events led Howard Schultz to working for Starbucks Coffee Company. At the time of his entry (he was hired as Director for Retail Operations and Marketing after persuading the owners to hire him), Starbucks was selling coffee beans by the pound for home brewing.
On a business trip to Milan, Howard saw the “relationship” Italians had with coffee. There were espresso bars everywhere, and he saw how people not only flocked to these coffee bars for the coffee, but also for the convenience they afford customers—convenience of having a cozy meeting place, and being given a personalized service (the owners practically knew every customer by name). This was the kind of coffee experience he wanted to bring to Starbucks.
Unfortunately, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says, the owners of Starbuck weren’t sold out on the idea; and after several more of his attempts were rejected, Howard decided to leave. For him, this was the kind of change that he knew would be embraced by the public. It didn’t matter if Starbucks didn’t see the need to adopt this change; he knew he was onto something great and he was determined to pursue it regardless of the outcome.
Howard opened his own coffee shop called Il Giornale where he introduced his own version of the Italian coffee culture he witnessed in Milan. He pitched his idea to 242 investors, and 217 of them rejected his pitch. Heartbroken though he was, he never faltered in his resolve. He was determined to introduce this coffee culture to American soil, and he was going to keep pursuing it no matter what.
Il Giornale eventually opened, and his instincts proved right on point; the coffee shop was a success. In fact, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago, it was such a huge success that it would eventually acquire the entire Starbucks Coffee Company. Today, the Starbuck coffee culture as we know it, is all thanks to the vision of this brilliant man.