From its humble origins to a name that is synonymous with coffee, Starbucks is one of the great growth companies of our time. While parts of Starbucks early history have been told in various publications, far too little has been written on precisely how Starbucks revolutionized the coffee industry—and in so doing, rewrote many of the conventional rules of management.

The Starbucks Experience examines the inner workings of a company that has taken an ordinary, even mundane, product and transformed it into extraordinary business success. This inside look at Starbucks has led to the identification of five key principles that are the foundation of Starbucks greatness. These are presented in the chapters that follow—precepts that can enhance your business and your personal life. When applied consistently and with passion, these concepts enable people and companies to seize on the types of opportunities that catapulted Starbucks to its international prominence. But before we get to the "how" of Starbucks, let's consider what Starbucks really has accomplished.


As an outsider with no personal stake in Starbucks future, I am not here to sell you on the company. It has done an excellent job of promotion worldwide, without help from business authors. I also am not here to convince you that Starbucks is one of the best global business enterprises.

Many others, who are more knowledgeable than I, have drawn that conclusion. Instead, the key to this book is to offer insights into the unique Starbucks Experience. It is an experience that has an impact on the coffee industry, the broader business world, the environment, partners, customers, and communities from Seattle, Washington, to Darjeeling, India.

From my 18-month exploration into the world of Starbucks, listening to what Starbucks leaders say and watching what they do, I have derived five key business principles that drive its phenomenal success. These principles are offered in the hope that you will apply them to your own situation to enrich your leadership influence in business and beyond. The Starbucks Experience reflects tenets that are simple, yet not simplistic. They are results-oriented and can be deceptively powerful when applied:

1. Make it your own
2. Everything matters
3. Surprise and delight
4. Embrace resistance
5. Leave your mark

The impact of these principles transcends the Starbucks story and offers all leaders an opportunity to greatly enrich their workplace. They demonstrate how an entrepreneurial spirit and extraordinary leadership skills can elevate a product or service and even change the way in which that product or service is delivered. These guidelines allow each of us to improve our workplace, whether by developing appealing new products, opening new markets, or just paying attention to the aspects of our business that we can readily enhance.

In the spirit of Starbucks, these principles encourage us to listen and respond with a greater awareness of opportunity. They remind all of us—you, me, the janitor, and the CEO—that we are responsible for unleashing a passion that ripples outward from behind the scenes, through the customer experience, and ultimately out into our communities. Let’s take a closer look at each of these principles with an eye to how they work inside Starbucks and how we can tap into their transformational power.

Copyright © , Joseph Michelli, PhD. All rights reserved.