Posts Tagged ‘Howard Schultz’

Sunday morning starting off just right with a delicious cup of coffee and two small cookies. Oatmeal cookies, so I can count it as breakfast, right? Oh how I love those little crunchy oatmeal cookies with the icing on top! You know, the ones every major grocery store has in a variety of inexpensive off-brand bags? Usually on the very top or very bottom shelf? Never eye level? Yes, those – you know what I’m talkin’.

This is a weekend of lounging around the apartment, enjoying time to myself. Sure there are a few weekly chores I completed yesterday and a few more ahead today, but there aren’t too many of those pesky tasks. And in between those duties (and we all have them!), I’m watching some old TV shows again on Hulu and videos I checked out from Nimitz Library. And then the pièce de résistance of the weekend ….. Murder She Wrote with one of my favorite actresses/women in the world, Angela Lansbury. A good friend loaned me several DVDs from this 1980s – 90s television show for the weekend – thank you Alexis!

Oh sure there is also reading involved: a journal article about library collection development, a book about the subject of economics (not the yawner some might expect!), and Howard Schultz’s new book Onward about the “come back and rise” of Starbucks.

And food. Food I enjoy the most. Easy dishes. Because it is rather a goof-off weekend. And even though some of it is junk food, such as the oatmeal cookies and chips and dip, there is also some fairly healthy food like the nachos pictured below – prepared just the way I like them! ‘Cept I had no beans. Dang. Out of all my dried beans in the apartment, I had failed to soak and cook any of them (Remember? Except for the reading and pesky tasks – goof off weekend!).

So here you have my favorite meal from yesterday – whole grain corn chips, toasted in the oven to melt the extra sharp cheddar, topped with onions, tomatoes, and extra-lean beef cooked with just a little salsa (it cooks better with a tasty liquidy tomatoey something) and the perfect mixture of seasonings I blend in while cooking. Celebrated with a dollop of sour cream in the middle.

I see ahead today more of my favorite food, reading, movies, television, and maybe even step-exercising in front of the computer while I watch Jessica Fletcher solve another mystery in Cabot Cove!


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Today I leave the world of food to talk about my fascination of the world of business and how it all comes together when it works well. However, the food will surely be brought back on another day!

Oh how I am captivated by the business world! Let me rephrase that: How I love the business world when I believe it is done correctly! The best way possible. With thoughts of long-term profits to keep it going. To continue the support of its employees, because this business would realize the value of good employees. This business would offer decent salaries to employees as it grows, as a way to not only reward them, but to attract the best, and to be able to eliminate the ones that are not worth the training or salaries or benefits that are offered. All people are worthy in the scheme of life, but not all are worth the extra $$$$ and time in a particular business. If an employee is constantly late, cannot fulfill the duties needed, or complains a lot about the work and the employer, then maybe he/she is in the wrong place and they need to go elsewhere. That person may do well and succeed in another setting. A totally different job.

[Realize here I am not talking about the employee who is let go due to a downturn in sales and/or the economy. I’m talking about the one who just really does not want to support the efforts of the current employer.]

I’m going to talk about retail here, because retail is what I know best. I want to go into a store and know that the person at the counter or on the sales floor is glad to see me. They want to make my day even better. After all, I’m about to (maybe) give them my money in exchange for a product or service, and I want to know that this exchange is appreciated. I had to work for that money, too. Anyway, I went into a store yesterday to make a purchase, and, well, I can be rather perky. Sometimes annoyingly so to those around me. But in Kansas, it is normal. I do love that friendly aspect of Kansas! So I walked up to the young man behind the counter and said, “Good morning! How are you today?” And he replied, “I’m here I guess.” I wanted to say something back like, “Really? Is that how you feel about me today?” Always wanting to be the teacher, I reckon. But I did not, I just laughed and said something like, “Well I’m glad you are here because I need someone to – – – – ! And it’s all about me!” He laughed, a little, though he didn’t really see the humor. Neither did I honestly.

Starbucks may be a global company. They are huge. But to me, they do it well. Some complain that they take away business from the small guy. Let’s first realize that there were very, very few coffee shops that offered the “third place” experience before Howard Schultz got excited and spread the word. Sorta like Christopher Columbus. Columbus may not have been the first explorer to set foot in “the new world”, but he was surely the first one to get so excited about it! He went back to Europe and marketed his enthusiasm, spreading the word of this wonderful new place and blah blah blah…..and here I am in the center of that “new world” this morning. [Yes, we can and should continue to talk about all the horrible tragedies that transpired involving the American Indian, but that is a conversation for another day.] The point is, Howard Schultz may not have been the exact first, but he surely ran forward and spread the glorious idea!

When I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, starting my morning reading a book or newspaper over a cup of coffee was a favorite activity. In the beginning, most mornings I walked to a locally-owned coffee shop. Very artsy. Loved the decor! There was hardly ever anyone else there, and soon I realized why. The coffee was not bad, but there was not a smile in the place. No one to make me feel welcomed. The man behind the counter always made me feel that if I had not come in for coffee, he could still be in bed!

Soon I was a regular at the Starbucks about a block away. In no time they knew my “regular”. They made me feel welcomed. Made me feel like they were very glad to see me. Almost as if we were all part of the same team. People were walking in all morning, lining up to take their coffees with them to work. Every once-in-a-while I would try the independent store again, because I do believe in supporting them, but couldn’t stay. Nope. For my money I also wanted to feel appreciated – not in the way!

Once in 1998, and once in 2006, I seriously considered opening a bookstore and small coffee shop in my small town in Virginia. I planned strenuously and strategically. Studied my community (what worked in Richmond or Durham would not necessarily be the best for my own community). Found the perfect locations. Planned on salaries of valid employees. Offering students (also valid employees) before and after school the chance to earn a little money and learn about customer service and business and profits if they really wanted a job. Training for employees. Training for myself. Opening the hours most needed by my community. Marketing plans were of the utmost importance!

I went to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a blueprint of sorts to make my plans. (SO much is available online, now. Unbelievable!!) I had already taken a few accounting classes, so I knew some about financial planning and balance sheets. I read all I could about Howard Schultz, and his first book, Pour Your heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One cup at a Time, was my favorite. I read more about coffees and brewing. And teas. Read about bookstores and the importance of a small business staying involved in the community. Ways to market and advertise. How to choose the best employees. Customer Service. Always customer service. In 1998 the SBA representative even told me after showing my plans to the group that was reviewing my work: I had the best business plan they had ever seen. Ever! Let me say here I was thrilled, but you must know it was not because I am so brilliant, it’s just because I followed their steps to a valid business plan step by step. And also had put lots of thought into the marketing plans for my community. I do know how to follow rules!

However, both times it came down to money. Both times the SBA encouraged me to continue through with my plan, follow through with my paperwork, but I was scared. There was so much money to borrow, so much money to pay back, and I did not believe I could do it. One thing I did not understand in financing was how to get investors. There were a couple of people that simply came forward and said they wanted to invest – they knew me and wanted such a store in our community. It would have meant long hours for me, but after being a mom for many years, I was used to that! However, I just did not have the guts to take the risk. Period. The possibility of not being able to pay back people that believed in me? And the possibility of losing our house obviously would affect more people than myself. So I walked away from the opportunity.

However, I am so fortunate that I love my job as a librarian and know that for right now I am in the best place for me. However, I still think of my own business plans when I see another business done well.

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