Success Stories

Howard Schultz

Aug 27, 2017

Howard Schultz grew up in housing projects in New York City. He was raised in a working class Jewish family. He never dreamt of someday being worth $2.3 billion. His mother was a full-time stay home mom, raising him and his sibling. His father held a few jobs, including a truck driver, and factory worker.

In 1961, when he was 7 years old, his father, Fred, broke his ankle while at work. Fred had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income. Schultz's career path was different from his parents. In high school, he played football. He became the first college graduate in his family after earning an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University.

After graduation, Schultz landed a job in the sales training program at Xerox, where he got experience cold-calling and pitching word processors. In a few years, he took a job at Hammarplast, a houseware business. Schultz became vice president an led a team of salespeople.

Schultz first encountered Starbucks when he was working at Hammarplast. The coffee shop ordered an unusually large amount coffeemakers, which caught his attention. Intrigued, Schultz traveled to Seattle to meet the company's then owners, Gerald Baldwin and Gordon Bowker. He was in awe over their passion for coffee. Schultz would have to take a big pay cut and move across the country to join the Starbucks team.

After a year of persuading, Starbucks hired him as the marketing director. He was convinced that Starbucks should start serving espresso drinks the Italian way and that Starbucks should be an experience, rather than just a store but Baldwin and Bowker, felt differently. In 1985 Schultz left Starbucks and started his own coffee company called “Il Giornale”, meaning “daily” in Italian. Two years later Il Giornale bought Starbucks, and Schultz became CEO of the Starbucks Corporation.

After seeing his father's experience when he was injured, Schultz offered all his employees, including part-time workers, complete healthcare coverage. Last year, Starbucks announced it would pay for employees' college tuition.

Today, there are more than 21,000 Starbucks stores in 65 countries, and the company is valued at $77 billion. "I've always been driven and hungry," Schultz says. "Long after others have stopped to rest and recover, I'm still running, chasing after something nobody else could ever see.

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