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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul Paperback – March 27, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 321 customer reviews

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  • Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
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  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
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  • It's Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011: Onward is not a puff piece. In just under 400 brisk pages, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz details the multitude of factors--the recession, new consumer behavior, overexpansion--that led to the company's downturn during 2007-2008. Obviously, Schultz was successful, and his book has plenty of valuable lessons about management and leadership--standard features for most business books. But the most interesting thing about Onward is Schultz's honesty about the whole process, from his determination to make difficult personnel changes to his admission that he considers it a personal failure when he sees someone with a competitor's cup of coffee. Schultz even makes the chapters about his agonies over the company's breakfast sandwiches a fascinating study in the minute decisions that go into running a multibillion-dollar company. Conflicts, raw emotions, high stakes: Onward is a business book that goes beyond feel-good maxims and actually has a story to tell. --Darryl Campbell --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 2000, Starbuck's founder and CEO Schultz (Pour Your Heart into It) stepped down from daily oversight of the company and assumed the role of chairman. Eight years later, in the midst of the recession and a period of decline unprecedented in the company's recent history, Schultz-feeling that the soul of his brand was at risk-returned to the CEO post. In this personal, suspenseful, and surprisingly open account, Schultz traces his own journey to help Starbucks reclaim its original customer-centric values and mission while aggressively innovating and embracing the changing landscape of technology. From the famous leaked memo that exposed his criticisms of Starbucks to new product strategies and rollouts, Schultz bares all about the painful yet often exhilarating steps he had to take to turn the company around. Peppered with stories from his childhood in tough Canarsie, N.Y., neighborhoods, his sequel to the founding of Starbucks is grittier, more gripping, and dramatic, and his voice is winning and authentic. This is a must-read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; Reprint edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781609613822
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609613822
  • ASIN: 1609613821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By WILLIAM on April 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am just about to finish the book...only a few pages left but I had to write a review. I don't write them very often but this book really resonated with me. Unlike a lot of business books written on leadership that are based on theory, ONWARD is a true story of one man's passion to restore his vision for his company. What I really enjoyed was how he didn't glorify himself. Howard was truly authentic in his communication. He had doubts, fears and made mistakes just like we all do. Basically, what I am saying is that you can learn a lot about business from this book but you will learn even more about the mindset and strategies of a true leader and what makes him tick. I am inspired by ONWARD and can't wait to get back to it. My copy is already full of notes, ideas and plans that I have already begun to implement in my company (with noticeable results) I highly recommend ONWARD!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I figured that since I drink enough their coffee, I might as well learn a little something about the company behind the cup. So with only a couple of bucks needed to get Free Super Saver Shipping, I pitched a used copy of Howard Schultz's "Onward" into my shopping cart and figured at worst I would get a crummy read to donate to the local school's annual book sale.

"Onward" surprised me, however. I learned a couple of things about Starbucks that I simply hadn't heard about before, such as their Clover brewing system available in some stores. It's a nifty vacuum brewing system developed by a couple of tinkerers in Seattle. (If you visit their website, you can search for stores nearby that have one.) The history of the development of their instant coffee (excuse me, "water soluble coffee"), Via, was also pretty interesting... I won't spoil it, but let's say that it wasn't an overnight discovery. There are definitely a few other "hey, that's kinda cool" stories in here too.

I won't say, however, that I learned anything from "Onward" as a business/leadership/management book. To be perfectly honest, I don't have much experience reading such types of books, so maybe I wasn't reading it with the right "eye" so to speak -- it was more of leisure reading than anything else. But to this untrained leader, it just didn't seem like there was much there beyond the basics that everyone really should know (humility, listening to people, etc.). Then again, since so many companies do those things poorly, maybe even the basics need to be repeated.

In any case, "Onward" was an enjoyable read and well worth the couple of bucks I paid for it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz is a good enough book but should only be on the reading list of those who are passionate about coffee or are interested in business turnarounds. Beyond that, this book has limited appeal. This is Schultz's second book. His first was Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time.

Howard Schultz is the passionate CEO of Starbucks. He loves coffee. He loves the company that he grew into the ubiquitous purveyor of coffee worldwide. Sometimes, his company even makes a good cup of coffee. As a business, it is hard to argue with their success. Until 2007, Starbucks was a consistent growth company, which kept expanding and expanding. In 2007/2008, they hit a wall. Quality declined. Customer satisfaction declined. Revenues didn't grow. After retiring as CEO earlier in the decade, Schultz convinced himself and his board that he should be brought back to reinvigorate the company. In dramatic fashion, he shutdown all of the stores for a day to retrain the staff (i.e., "partners") on how to make coffee; he disposed of the hot sandwiches that were stinking up the stores; and, he closed many unprofitable locations. What he wouldn't do is cut back on the quality of the coffee or benefits for employees. Those were values near and dear to him. The turnaround succeeded and the company found its groove again.

The results for the company were impressive. The boldness of Schultz's moves are noteworthy. Shutting an entire chain of retail stores for a day was a bold move.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Pour Your Heart Into It. Make no mistake, I love Starbucks, both as a customer and as an investor, but this volume lacks the warmth and sheer adventure of the account of the startup of Starbucks.
The most interesting aspect of this account, for me, is that it serves as a perfect illustration of how annoying American upper managament can be. Nothing is ever good enough or fast enough for this man. Everyone has to passionately commit. Everything has to be better than last year, last week, yesterday. Everything has to be done by yesterday!
The newly revamped Starbucks may be wonderful, but it is unsustainable, as is most of the American corporate model. A classic example of this is the author's breathless account of someone coming up with a good idea on a flight back to Seattle and his pride in the fact that he was able to approve the concept and get committment to a date from others on the ground so that by the time they arrived everything was in place. Would it have been such a catastrophe if everyone had taken a day to think it all through? There is a great deal of this kind of thing in this book, and in my experience dealing with American business, such freneticism is all too common.
There is a great deal of pride expressed here in doing more with less - but that cannot go on forever.
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