The Success Story of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks

Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks

In 1981 Howard Schultz visited the Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle, a client company of his employer at the time, and ever since then their paths have been inseparable. A year later a new employment and a working travel in Italy became the reason for him to give birth to ideas, which would change American society and the way it spends its free time.

Schultz was born 1953 in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of a truck driver of German and Jewish origin and, together with his two brothers, lived a childhood deprived of luxury. The poor way his father was treated by his employers, the lack of social insurance and benefits, made a great impression to young Schultz. Later, as he successfully graduated from an elite university, the education where he had earned due to his sports achievements, he was bound to make things right for his future employees.

At the time Starbucks was a small Seattle coffee-bean shop. Schultz worked for Xerox, but then switched to the position of general manager for a Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer, where he had to often make business trips to check how potential and current clients were doing business. The passion of the owners and the amazing smell of fresh coffee he encountered the first time he entered the shop made Schultz wish to start working for Starbucks. His wish was fulfilled and he got the job of a marketing director.


“If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”

Starbucks coffee

Starbucks coffee

A 1982 trip to Italy, however, made him feel discontent with how the institution was doing business. Italian coffee culture inspired Schultz in such a way, that he insisted that Starbucks adopts the Italian cafeteria model: small coffee houses at every corner of every street, which serve cups of coffee, and where clients don’t come and go, but spend their free time and accept as social encounter spots. The shop owners failed to see the bright future behind their employee’s ideas, an event, which led to him quitting his job and founding his own cafeteria, Il Giornale.

After 3 years of hard work Schultz convinced the Starbucks founders to sell him their retail unit for the sum of $3.8 Million. He immediately renamed the joint coffee brand after the Seattle shop, and aimed towards building one of the most recognizable companies in America. In the 90s the company grew with rapid speed, became public, and multiplied its owner’s fortune.

Aside from making a “fast food nation” such as the United States wish to spend hours at a time conversing with friends at a coffee place, Schultz’ greatest achievement was actually holding on to the idea of social benefits for employees, which had been denied to his father many years ago. To this day people working at Starbucks are recognized for their loyalty to management.

Starbucks serves coffee, including several cup sizes and instant coffee, tea, fruit juice, baked goods, and salads. It is widening its gamma of products constantly, always trying to reach new horizons. Today most of the Starbucks locations are company-owned. With more than 17,000 stores worldwide many believe that it is a franchise, however, only as an exception Starbucks may enter into contracts with other companies.

Schultz is currently number 311 of the Forbes 400 and has a net worth of $1.5 Billion. He is internationally recognized as a trailblazer both in coffee retail and business management and is famous for his ever existent desire to expand his business and his capabilities, reach new markets, and for his willingness to provide security and comfort for his employees.