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January 20, 2011

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

But at various times Gill appears to be very naïve and pretending to be the most innocent person in the world. He does not appear to know the way the poor live in the USA and that for most people life itself is a struggle. For an advertising person who prides himself on being up to date about everything in life his naivety about the general things in life is a little too hard to believe.

Gill comes across as a person who tells a very gripping story about two giants in the USA, JWT and Starbucks. They are a study in contract. One is a huge advertising agency and the other is the brash confident newcomer from a new generation. The employees in JWT are painted in hues of black and grey where as the people at Starbucks are lily white. A little too hard to believe. And to say that Starbucks provides free health insurance for all its employees and gloat about it was too much of a syrupy gulab jammun to swallow.

Gill observations are insightful and are funny at times. His take on the late coming of Linda smacks of wit. He says quote” on the morning of our breakfast, Linda shows up late. Another bad sign. In corporate America the higher your status the tardier you are” unquote. And his take on every client becoming  an expert, two minutes after listening to advertising presentation is  a real one. As an ex advertising man myself I can vouch for the fact that in advertising business every client and his employees are experts. They are very knowledgeable and can take design and media plan decisions very easily and very casually. 

The real insight in the entire book is the working environment and the type of care that the author says Starbucks takes of its employees aka “partners” and its customers. Starbucks allows any one liberal use of its restrooms including people who are not its customers. This comes as a surprise as even the best malls and shopping complexes have not so clean bathrooms in India.

The work ethic of Starbucks is nicely detailed. The passion of Starbucks towards coffee is infectiously and one can almost feel aroma of the coffee coming out of the book!

Even though the book appears to be a pitch for Starbucks and its way of life it has many lessons for the managers to be. Of how the life can go from riches to riches and from riches to rags. Whatever one wants to say at the end “How Starbucks has saved my life” will remain as a motivational book about a person who lost is all and has rediscovered it. Not the discovery of material wealth but discovery of being happy with the work he did and does. That’s one takeaway I am going to cherish. 

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