Howard Schultz: A Visionary Leader Who Transformed Starbucks

How Starbucks CEO Transformed a Small Coffee Bean Store Into a Massively  Successful Worldwide Brand | Entrepreneur


Howard D. Schultz, a prominent American businessman and author, is best known for his transformative role as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks. Throughout his illustrious career, Schultz brought about significant changes in the coffee industry and revolutionized the way we perceive and experience coffeehouses. This article delves into the life and accomplishments of Howard Schultz, exploring his contributions to Starbucks and beyond.

Early Life and Beginnings

Howard Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. His upbringing was modest, and he came from a blue-collar family. From a young age, Schultz displayed entrepreneurial traits and an unyielding work ethic. These qualities would later shape his journey towards success.

Joining Starbucks: A Vision Unfolded

The Coffeehouse Epiphany

In 1981, while working at a Swedish kitchenware company, Schultz encountered a small coffee bean shop in Seattle. The visit to the coffeehouse left an indelible mark on him. The ambiance, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and the sense of community within the coffeehouse resonated deeply with Schultz.

Pursuing a Dream

Inspired by the coffeehouse experience, Schultz was determined to bring this culture to America. In 1982, he joined Starbucks, a small Seattle-based coffee bean roaster and retailer. It was during his business trip to Italy that Schultz envisioned transforming Starbucks into a gathering place for people, akin to the Italian espresso bars.

The Starbucks Transformation

Upon his return, Schultz urged Starbucks to experiment with espresso beverages and create a cafĂ©-like atmosphere. However, the company was hesitant to diversify from its primary focus on selling coffee beans and equipment. Undeterred, Schultz founded his own coffeehouse chain named “Il Giornale” in 1985.

Reunification with Starbucks

A Brewing Merger

In 1987, Schultz’s venture “Il Giornale” acquired Starbucks, and the stores were rebranded under the Starbucks name. Schultz became the CEO of the merged company, and his vision began to take shape.

Global Expansion

Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks underwent rapid expansion, opening new stores across the United States and eventually going global. The company’s distinctive coffeehouses became synonymous with a unique customer experience and a comfortable environment for relaxation and socializing.

A Socially Responsible Business

Embracing Ethical Practices

Howard Schultz’s Starbucks was not just about coffee; it was about fostering positive change. He implemented policies that prioritized fair trade, environmental sustainability, and ethical sourcing of coffee beans. Starbucks became a pioneer in promoting social responsibility within the corporate world.

Employee Welfare

Schultz also focused on employee welfare, providing healthcare benefits, stock options, and equity to part-time employees. He believed that a happy and motivated workforce was essential to the success of the company.

Schultz Beyond Starbucks

Ownership of Seattle Super Sonics

In 2001, Howard Schultz ventured into the sports world by purchasing the Seattle Super Sonics, an NBA basketball team. He had a passion for sports and saw an opportunity to impact the community positively.

Return to Starbucks

After stepping down as CEO in 2000, Schultz returned to Starbucks in 2008 when the company faced challenges amid the global economic downturn. His leadership and strategic decisions helped steer the company back on track, regaining its position as a market leader.

Writing and Philanthropy

Apart from his business ventures, Schultz is also an accomplished author, writing books like “Pour Your Heart Into It” and “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul.” He is actively involved in philanthropy, contributing to various charitable causes and organizations.


Howard Schultz’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a visionary leader in the coffee industry is nothing short of inspiring. His relentless pursuit of excellence, innovative ideas, and commitment to social responsibility have left an indelible mark on Starbucks and the corporate world. Schultz’s legacy serves as a reminder that with determination, passion, and a sense of purpose, one can bring about significant positive change.

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