Book Review: Onward

There are few things I enjoy more than Starbucks, so naturally, when this book came out, I had to read it!

Onward is one of the most practical leadership books I have read. It is the story of how Howard Schultz came back as Starbuck’s CEO, and transformed the company after one unprofitable quarter.

It is an incredibly detailed book. In it, Howard discusses every decision he made, why he made it, how he communicated it, and how it affected the company. You will read memo’s that Howard sent out to his teams, tough conversations he had to have, and the realities that come with leading a company as large as Starbucks.

Onward provides the unique opportunity to see life, business, and leadership through the eyes of the leader of one of the most successful companies in the world.

Due to the amount of detail, Onward can take a while to get through, but it is worth it. Take your time. Soak up the principles. Revisit it often. This book will take your leadership perspective to another level.

Buy it here:

Some Highlights:

  • There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all risks and rational argument, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead.
  • “Life is a sum of all your choices,” wrote Albert Camus. Large or small, our actions forge our futures, hopefully inspiring others along the way
  • We believe that success is not an entitlement and that it has to be earned every day. We do not embrace the status quo and constantly push for reinvention
  • Nothing that Starbucks or I do can be presumed confidential.
  • “The world belongs to the few people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
  • If we did not also feel, if we did not have conviction in our values and believe that we really were in the business of human connection—on our farms, in our offices, in our stores, in our communities—then the company was doomed
  • “Behind every barista is a story,” reads a poster hanging in the lobby of our Seattle support center. It’s true
  • Boards of directors do not exist to manage companies, but rather to make sure companies are managed well
  • I’ve never bought into the notion that there is a single recipe for successful leadership. But I do think effective leaders share two intertwined attributes: an unbridled level of confidence about where their organizations are headed, and the ability to bring people along.
  • At its core, I believe leadership is about instilling confidence in others.
  • Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over communicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe

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