Howard Behar (former Starbucks President) on servant leadership and building Starbucks from startup to icon
Play • 45 min

On this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Howard Behar, former Starbucks President of North America, Founding President of Starbucks International, and Starbucks Board Member. Howard is the author of It's Not About the Coffee and The Magic Cup.

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Episode Highlights

  • What it was like joining Starbucks in 1989 as a startup.
  • Why it wasn't about the coffee.
  • Why Howard spent 4 days per week visiting stores
  • "The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom"
  • "Only the Truth Sounds Like the Truth"
  • How putting stores closer together highlighted product/market fit.
  • The transition from a local niche business to international phenom.
  • The questions Howard asked to connect with people on the frontlines.
  • Why real conversations with 12 customers can beat 1M pieces of data.
  • How brutal honesty led to an enduring leadership team.
  • Why they entered Japan when people said "they aren't coffee drinkers"
  • How incremental bets & learning led to big international growth.
  • Why the most painful mistakes came from rushing.
  • The principles of Servant Leadership from 50 years of study and practice.

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