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January 14, 2011

Book Review - How Starbucks saved my life - Part - I


“How Starbucks saved my life”.By Michael Gill
Publisher: Harper Collins, New Delhi – 110001
ISBN-13 978-0-00-726767-5 ISBN- 10 0-00-726767-3
Price – Rs 195/-
How do you review a book that exists at different levels? A book that is deeply insightful and banal at the same time. But keeping arguments about the quality of the book aside an attempt is being made as the book is definitely worth reading by practitioners, managers and manager wannabes 
All of us have an ingrained belief that getting a job is the most difficult thing and once a job is got one can relax and take things easy. Nothing can be far away from the truth. In the modern world getting the job is the easiest thing. It is like having a piece of cake. Holding on to the job, growing and finding a nurturing organization is a very big challenge. In the era of pink slips, downsizing, rightsizing and simply getting thrown out the challenge is how does one keep one’s job.

“How Starbucks saved my life” is a true life story. It is written by Michael Gill.  This true life story is being made into a movie and it will star Tom Hanks as the hero. Gill is a man born into riches. His Daddy is the renowned New York Writer Brendan Gill. He was educated at Yale and joined J. Walter Thompson the advertising agency. He quickly grew and becomes the creative director. After serving for 25 years at JWT which he considers as his own company he is abruptly fired from his job.

Gill tries to start his own consulting firm but fails. The losses that he faces are on many fronts. He loses out on the professional front and on the personal front. He has an illicit relationship and fathers a son. His wife divorces him and humiliatingly he has to give off his huge house as a settlement to his wife. The man who had it all lost it.
He is at the nadir both professionally and personally. He was waiting for his non existent customers at the local Starbucks when an attractive Afro-American makes an outrageous offer. “Would he be willing to work at Starbucks”?  Not as a MANAGER or in the advertising department but at 10 $ per hour worker. He would be a store hand or a barista. Gill is shocked and wallows in self pity.

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