See This Guy: Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz, Starbucks, coffee

What if you could see around corners?

Howard Schultz was a working joe, who had a passion for a cup o' joe.

He began his career as an appliance salesman, selling European coffeemakers and grinders to US companies. He noticed that a tiny company in Seattle known as Starbucks ordered more drip coffee machines than larger stores. He was intrigued and went to meet the owners.

Howard was so impressed with the company and the city that he kept bugging the store's owners to give him a job, And at 30 years old, he landed a marketing job there -- at half his previous salary.

He pressed the owners to expand the number of stores, but they rejected his enthusiasm.

After a trip to Milan, he brought back recipes for latte and cappuccino, which tripled the company’s revenue. Yet what impressed Howard the most was the way coffee became ingrained into Italian culture. And he knew this could also happen in America.

He saw the coffeehouse as a place for leisure and social gathering. This was a radical concept at a time when most coffee costed around 25 cents a cup.

Again, he pressed his bosses to create a network of coffee house. And once again, they refused.

Howard was so confident, he quit to open his own shop. He invested all his savings and needed to borrow the rest. He spoke to 242 people to raise money - and 217 turned him down flat, most of whom said the idea was not worth investing in. He was humbled but not deterred. And eventually got his loan.

He worked tirelessly on his dream for years while his wife supported the family. But there was a single moment when he came dangerously close to quitting.

When his wife was seven months pregnant -- and still the sole breadwinner -- her father told Howard he needed to give up his "hobby" and get a real job. He cried and went to talk to his wife, who told him he needed to see this through.

He did. And after buying the original Starbucks stores, he aggressively expanded the chain, created a legendary company and changed American culture forever. 

Not bad for a poor kid from the housing projects of Brooklyn whose ambition exceeded his options.

Let's raise a cup to never giving up.


A photo posted by Sales.Cafe (@salescafe) on

John Lavallo57 Posts

John is Columbia Business School MBA with expertise in marketing, business leadership, and law. John is a successful entrepreneur who took his first company public. He currently resides in New York City.


  • Lucy

    Mon, 12/12/2016 - 09:26

    Love me a pumpkin spiced latte. Howard is an american hero!