Howard Schultz Success Story : Perseverance and Achievements

Howard Schultz success story is an inspiring tale of perseverance and determination. Born in a humble family, Schultz faced numerous challenges on his path to success. He started his career as a salesman and eventually joined Starbucks as a marketing director. However, it was his visionary leadership that revolutionized the company. Schultz believed in the power of creating a unique customer experience, which led to the introduction of Starbucks’ iconic coffeehouses worldwide. Despite facing setbacks, Schultz remained resilient and navigated the company through tough times. His commitment to social responsibility and employee welfare further cemented his legacy. Today, Howard Schultz stands as a shining example of how perseverance and passion can lead to extraordinary success.

  1. Howard Schultz is Well Known for ?

Howard Schultz Success Story

Howard Schultz is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is best known as the former CEO and chairman of Starbucks, the global coffeehouse chain. He joined Starbucks in 1982 as the director of operations and marketing, and in 1987, he purchased the company and became its CEO. Under his leadership, Starbucks grew from a few stores to a global brand with thousands of locations worldwide. Schultz is recognized for his innovative approach to customer experience, focus on employee welfare, and commitment to social causes. He stepped down as CEO in 2017 but remains closely associated with the Starbucks brand and continues to be involved in various philanthropic endeavors.

2. Early Life & Education

Howard Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He was the eldest of three children in a working-class family. His father, Fred Schultz, worked as a truck driver delivering diapers and his mother, Elaine, was a housewife. Schultz spent his formative years in the Bayview Housing projects, a tough, low-income area in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood.

The hardships that Schultz and his family faced during his early life significantly influenced his worldview. When Schultz was just seven years old, his father suffered a broken ankle while working, leading to a severe financial crisis for the family. There was no health insurance or worker’s compensation to fall back on. This event left a deep impression on Schultz, fostering a strong sense of empathy and a resolve to build a different kind of company that would not leave its workers in similar circumstances.

Despite growing up in poverty, Schultz was an enthusiastic and energetic child. He showed early signs of leadership and charisma, often organizing neighborhood games for local children. Schultz’s ticket out of his impoverished circumstances came in the form of sports. He excelled in high school sports, particularly football, which would eventually provide him a path to higher education.

Howard Schultz was awarded an athletic scholarship for football to Northern Michigan University, making him the first person in his family to go to college. Despite the scholarship, Schultz did not play football in college. Instead, he focused on his studies, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication in 1975. The time he spent in university was transformative, and his degree choice would later prove instrumental in his business career, particularly when motivating employees and expressing his company’s mission to the world.

The early years of Howard Schultz’s life, with its hardships and early education, significantly shaped his perspective, later business strategies, and approach towards employee welfare. His rags-to-riches story is a testimony to his resilience, hard work, and a testament to the fact that one’s early life circumstances do not determine one’s future.


3. Career Beginnings and Struggles

After graduating from Northern Michigan University in 1975, Howard Schultz’s professional journey began. His first job was as a salesperson for Xerox Corporation, a role that introduced him to the corporate world and honed his skills in sales and marketing. Schultz showed promise early in his career and quickly climbed the ranks at Xerox.

Although he was successful at Xerox, Schultz had a desire for broader experiences. His next career move was to the Swedish company, Hammarplast, a manufacturer of housewares and kitchen appliances. As the U.S. general manager, Schultz’s job was to manage the company’s American operations. It was in this role that Schultz noticed an emerging trend – one of their clients, a small Seattle-based company named Starbucks Coffee Company, was ordering an unusually large number of high-quality coffee makers.

Intrigued by this discovery, Schultz decided to pay the company a visit in Seattle. Starbucks at the time was a small retailer that sold only whole coffee beans and not brewed coffee. Schultz was immediately taken by the company’s passion for coffee and was convinced that Starbucks had massive potential.

In 1982, Schultz left Hammarplast and joined Starbucks as the Director of Marketing and Operations. It was during this time that Schultz experienced an awakening. On a business trip to Italy, he was inspired by the romance and community of Italian coffee bars. Schultz envisioned turning Starbucks into a similar type of community hub in the United States where people could not just buy coffee, but also enjoy it in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.

However, Schultz faced considerable pushback when he proposed this idea to the original Starbucks owners. They wanted Starbucks to remain focused on selling coffee beans and believed selling brewed coffee would distract from that goal. Disappointed but undeterred, Schultz decided to pursue his vision without them.

In 1985, Schultz made a significant career decision. He left Starbucks to start his own coffee company called Il Giornale. The goal was to offer a full coffeehouse experience similar to what he had seen in Italy. Schultz experienced a period of struggle during this time. Starting a new business from scratch is always challenging, but Schultz believed in his concept and pushed forward despite the difficulties.

Il Giornale quickly proved successful, confirming Schultz’s belief in the appeal of a coffeehouse experience. In 1987, just two years after leaving Starbucks, Schultz, with the help of local investors, bought Starbucks for $3.8 million. He then rebranded his Il Giornale coffee houses as Starbucks and began the work of expanding the company into the global coffee giant we know today. Schultz’s early career struggles, passion for coffee, and belief in the power of a strong community forged the path for Starbucks’ immense success in the years to come.


4. The Italian Inspiration and a Bold Leap

During his early years at Starbucks, Howard Schultz made a trip to Italy that would prove to be a pivotal moment in his career and the future of Starbucks. While in Milan for an international housewares show in 1983, Schultz noticed the integral role coffee bars played in the social life of Italians. Coffee bars were not just places to get a quick caffeine fix but were a cultural hub, an integral part of the Italian social fabric where people gathered to chat, read, and relax.

He was fascinated by the barista’s role, not just as a server, but as an artist creating a wide array of coffee beverages. Schultz saw that these coffee bars were serving hundreds of customers a day, yet each one felt personal and intimate. This contrasted starkly with the US’s coffee culture at the time, which was mostly limited to fast food-style outlets and at-home consumption.

Schultz had a vision. He wanted to recreate the Italian coffee bar culture in America and transform the existing Starbucks model from simply selling coffee beans and equipment to providing a full “coffeehouse” experience. He imagined Starbucks becoming a central meeting place in the community, much like the Italian coffee bars he had fallen in love with.

However, when Schultz returned to Seattle and proposed this new concept, he was met with significant resistance. Starbucks’ original owners were purists who believed in selling whole coffee beans for at-home brewing. They felt that venturing into serving coffee would dilute the brand and steer away from their primary focus.

Despite the setback, Schultz was not one to abandon his vision. Instead of trying to convince the owners of Starbucks, he decided to take a bold leap of faith. In 1985, he left Starbucks and started his own chain of coffeehouses, Il Giornale. The name was inspired by the Italian newspaper of the same name, adding an extra touch of Italian authenticity to his venture.

Il Giornale offered the Italian-style coffeehouse experience that Schultz had envisioned. The store served a variety of espresso beverages, played Italian opera music, and even used Italian words for the different sizes of coffee cups. Schultz’s belief in his idea was unwavering, even as he faced struggles in starting his venture. This period was a test of his resilience and determination, but it ultimately laid the foundation for what Starbucks would eventually become.

In 1987, just two years after starting Il Giornale, Schultz had the opportunity to purchase Starbucks, which was up for sale. With the help of local investors, he bought Starbucks for $3.8 million, merging it with Il Giornale. He rebranded his coffeehouses as Starbucks and began introducing the coffeehouse concept he’d been inspired by in Italy. This bold leap set the stage for Starbucks’ transformation into a global coffee empire, with Schultz’s Italian-inspired vision at its heart.


5. Starbucks Under Schultz

After Howard Schultz’s bold move of buying Starbucks in 1987, he began transforming the small coffee bean retailer into a global coffeehouse empire. Schultz was driven by the vision of replicating the authentic Italian coffee bar culture he had experienced in Milan and bringing it to the rest of the world.

  • Rapid Expansion

With the acquisition of Starbucks, Schultz wasted no time in initiating a rapid expansion plan. The original Starbucks model, which focused on selling coffee beans and coffee-making equipment, was quickly expanded to include the sale of freshly brewed coffee and espresso drinks.

The first Starbucks store outside Seattle was opened in Chicago in 1987, marking the beginning of the company’s nationwide expansion. By the end of the year, Starbucks had opened 17 stores. This expansion pace was aggressive, but Schultz’s vision was global, not local. Starbucks opened its first international location in Tokyo, Japan, in 1996, marking the beginning of its international expansion.

  • Innovative Business Practices

Schultz wasn’t just interested in increasing the number of Starbucks stores, though. He was intent on building a company that valued its employees as much as its profits. Reflecting on his own challenging upbringing and the struggles of his father, Schultz introduced groundbreaking employee benefits.

In 1988, Starbucks began offering full health benefits to eligible full- and part-time employees, including coverage for domestic partners. This was virtually unheard of in the retail industry at the time, particularly for part-time employees. In 1991, Starbucks became the first privately owned U.S. company to offer a stock option program that included part-time employees, giving them a real stake in the company’s success.

  • Facing Challenges

Despite Starbucks’ rapid growth and success, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In the early 2000s, the company faced a series of challenges, including market saturation, reduced customer visits, and increased competition from lower-priced competitors.

Schultz, who had stepped down as CEO in 2000, returned to the role in 2008 to help guide the company through this rough period. He made some tough decisions, including closing underperforming stores and restructuring the company’s operations. These moves, combined with renewed focus on customer experience and product quality, helped Starbucks recover and return to its previous growth trajectory.

  • Legacy

Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2017 and then as Executive Chairman in 2018, but his impact on Starbucks is undeniable. Under his leadership, Starbucks grew from a small regional retailer to one of the world’s most recognized brands, with more than 30,000 locations across 77 countries. Perhaps even more importantly, he showed that a company could be both profitable and provide generous benefits to its employees, setting a new standard for the retail industry.

The Starbucks we know today, with its inviting stores, extensive drink menu, and commitment to employee welfare, is largely the result of Schultz’s Italian inspiration and his determined leadership. His ability to translate his vision into a successful global business model has left an indelible mark on the coffee industry and the business world at large.


6. Not Just About Profit

One of the most notable aspects of Howard Schultz’s leadership at Starbucks is his commitment to building a company that is not solely about profit. Schultz firmly believed that a company could succeed financially while also providing substantial benefits to its employees and making positive contributions to society. This belief stemmed from his own upbringing in a working-class family where financial struggle was a common experience.

  • Groundbreaking Employee Benefits

From the early days of Starbucks’ expansion, Schultz implemented groundbreaking benefits for all employees, which he refers to as “partners”. These benefits showed a level of care for employee welfare that was unprecedented in the retail industry, particularly for part-time workers.

In 1988, Starbucks began offering full health benefits to all employees who work 20 hours a week or more. This includes coverage for spouses and domestic partners, which was not common at the time. The decision to offer these benefits was influenced by Schultz’s memory of his father’s injury and the financial hardship it caused due to the lack of health insurance.

In 1991, Schultz introduced another innovative employee benefit: the Bean Stock program. This made Starbucks the first privately owned U.S. company to include part-time employees in its stock option program. The program gave employees a tangible stake in the company’s success, aligning their interests with those of the company and recognizing their contributions to Starbucks’ growth.

  • Educational Opportunities

Schultz’s commitment to employee welfare expanded further in 2014 when Starbucks introduced the College Achievement Plan. In partnership with Arizona State University, the program gives eligible U.S. employees the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage. This initiative, inspired by Schultz’s own experience as the first in his family to graduate from college, helps employees further their education and improve their career prospects.

  • Social Impact

Schultz’s vision extended beyond Starbucks and its employees to the broader community. He saw Starbucks as a company that could make a difference in the world. This has been reflected in numerous initiatives over the years, including the hiring of refugees, investment in farmer support centers in coffee-growing regions, and programs addressing social issues in communities where Starbucks operates.

In addition, under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks has made commitments to sustainable practices, like ethical sourcing of coffee and reducing the environmental impact of its stores and operations.


Howard Schultz’s story is an embodiment of the American Dream. From humble beginnings to running a multinational corporation, his journey is a testimony to the power of ambition, resilience, and the courage to challenge conventional wisdom. As of today, Schultz’s vision continues to resonate in every cup of Starbucks coffee savored around the globe, symbolizing the remarkable connection between a boy from Brooklyn and the world of coffee.


7. Famous Quotes

Howard Schultz is known for his inspiring leadership and his ability to convey his vision and values through his words. Here are some of his most famous quotes:

  • “Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me—40,000 stores—is not what matters. What does matter is not size or scale but the quality of our mission.”
  • “Starbucks represents something beyond a cup of coffee.”
  • “I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future.”
  • “I always saw myself wanting to do something deemed successful and good at the same time.”
  • “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign.”
  • “Dream more than others think practical, expect more than others think possible, care more than others think wise.”
  • “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.”
  • “When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”
  • “The challenge of the retail business is the human condition.”
  • “The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability… When the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.”


8. Top FAQ’s about Howard Schultz

  • Who is Howard Schultz? Howard Schultz is an American businessman best known for his role as the CEO and chairman of Starbucks. He is largely credited with transforming Starbucks from a local Seattle coffee bean retailer into a global coffeehouse chain.
  • Where was Howard Schultz born and raised? Howard Schultz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, specifically in the Canarsie Bayview Housing Projects.
  • What is Howard Schultz’s background in education? Schultz was the first in his family to attend college. He received a football scholarship to attend Northern Michigan University, where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in Speech Communication.
  • How did Howard Schultz get involved with Starbucks? Schultz was working as a general manager for a Swedish kitchenware manufacturer when he noticed that a small Seattle store, Starbucks, was buying more coffee makers than large department stores. He flew to Seattle to meet the original owners, and later joined the company as the Director of Marketing.
  • What was Howard Schultz’s inspiration to change the Starbucks model? During a trip to Italy, Schultz was inspired by the Italian tradition of the coffee bar as a community gathering place. He wanted to bring a similar coffeehouse culture to America, transforming Starbucks from a coffee bean retailer to a place where people could enjoy coffee together.
  • What significant changes did Schultz introduce to Starbucks? Schultz expanded Starbucks to sell freshly brewed coffee and espresso drinks. He also introduced health insurance for all eligible full- and part-time employees and a stock option program that included part-time employees. These moves were pioneering in the retail industry.
  • When did Howard Schultz step down from Starbucks? Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in 2017 and then as Executive Chairman in 2018.
  • What is Schultz’s business philosophy? Schultz believes in the power of a strong mission and values that extend beyond profit. He has championed the idea of a company providing substantial benefits to its employees and making positive contributions to society.
  • What is Howard Schultz’s net worth? As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Schultz’s net worth was estimated at $4.3 billion. For the most current information, please refer to the latest resources.
  • Is Howard Schultz involved in any philanthropic activities? Yes, Schultz is known for his philanthropy. He and his wife, Sheri, have a family foundation that focuses on supporting veterans, youth, and employment initiatives. They are also signatories of the Giving Pledge, committing to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.


Further Reading

Study on Work Life Balance : A Real Challenge

Study hacks : Enhancing Your Habits for Academic Success

Ignite Your Passion : In Pursuit of Your Dreams


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