Leading The Starbucks Way – Part 3; Challenge Your Legacy

starbucksWow!  This has been the longest stretch without posting here since I started this blog two years ago.  Between travelling, trying to get my book published and moving into a new office, I just had to say NO to a few things.  But now it’s back to business.  Let’s start by wrapping up our discussion on Leading The Starbucks Way.

Last month in the Platform Builders Mastermind Group, we dove into “Leading The Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People” by Joseph A. Michelli.

Sure this book is about Starbucks, but it’s much bigger than that.  Michelli shows why Starbucks has become the coffee bean superpower of the world.  And it has nothing to do with the beans.  I guess that’s not entirely true, but their success is built much more around who is serving rather than what is being served.

I will admit, I have invested my fair share in the Starbucks brand but I never gave a thought as to what goes on behind the grinder, so to speak.  Michelli explores 5 Principles that give Starbucks the advantage over their competition and I for one, will pay much more attention to what is going on behind the counter next time I visit my local Starbucks.

Definitely a great look at what has made Starbucks so successful, but at the same time, the bar has been set very high for them to continue to live up to their reputation.

In this, the final of three posts, I will recap Michelli’s exploration of Principle 4 – Mobilize The Connection and Principle 5 – Cherish And Challenge Your Legacy


Nobody knows better than Starbucks that the power in any marketing strategy is going to depend greatly on social media.  Michelli points out that Starbucks has identified 5 core elements in their digital strategy:

  1. commerce
  2. company-owned web and mobile channels
  3. loyalty/customer relationship management (CRM) targeted database
  4. social media and
  5. paid digital marketing

I have found it interesting how many ways there are to be a Starbuck’s customer while not even at the store.  You seem to see the Starbuck’s name almost everywhere you go and it has all but become a household term anymore.  I received a $5 Starbucks gift card through facebook a while back and when I used it this morning, the barista asked me where I got it.  Made for a great conversation.  Again, building relationships … the Starbucks way!

“By building social media connections through individualized experiences, unique preferences, thoughtful platform selection, and respect for the platform community, Starbucks pulls customers to its content, as opposed to pushing marketing materials to them.”

I love that quote.  Many of us think of sales as more of a “push” process and even though we see Starbucks marketing everywhere, I don’t think I have ever felt like it was being pushed on me.  Maybe I am just “pulled” to it because it’s a solid brand with great customer service.  What do you think?


The final section of the book is worth the price of admission.  Michelli takes an in-depth look at how Starbucks has considered all their decisions, both good and bad, as they move into the future.  No doubt they fully understand that without a strong client base, they will not exist.

“For our purposes, we will look specifically at behaviors leadership demonstrates in the course of setting goals, taking action, and measuring progress in the areas of environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing, community development, and job creation.”

As they look into the future, they will depend greatly on their leadership to make sure that what is important, stays important.  The bottom line is that their success is about the relationships they have built, both on the personal and corporate level.  It’s no wonder that this business model is one that is being imitated on a daily basis.  It works!

Responsibility is part of the Culture!

This is probably my favorite quote from this section of the book:

“True leadership requires a willingness to invest in the long-term health of one’s business and active collaboration with others, out of a genuine sense of responsibility.” 

There is so much information in this book but my big takeaway is that Starbucks has created a culture that extends well beyond the people drinking their coffee. [Tweet This]  Something to think about for all of us.

TODAY’S QUESTION:  How much time do you spend thinking about your legacy?  Does it end with the person right in front of you or have you considered that what you do might just impact someone you will never meet?



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Barry Smith  5/19/14   photo courtesy of amazon   © Building What Matters 2014

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