Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Starbucks Experience

The Starbucks Experience by Dr. Joseph Michelli focuses on the five principles that distinguishes Starbucks from many other companies. Those five principles are Make it Your Own, Everything Matters, Surprise and Delight, Embrace Resistance and Leave Your Mark.  It was a 3 [NordicTrack] session read.  I’m not much of a Starbucks fan myself, though I did stop in at a South Burlington Starbucks this afternoon and dropped $3.60 on a Caramel Macchiato.  Darn fine beverage, I’ll have to admit.  I rarely do Starbucks, as I’m a Speeder and Earl man, but this book gave me a new appreciation for Starbucks, for sure.

I was expecting more from the book.  3 out of 5 stars.


p.3 If you had invested $10,000 in the Starbucks IPO on the Hasdaq in 1992, your investment would be worth approximately $650,000 today.

p.7 Starbucks executives continue to respctfully and willingly share profits with their people.  Through this sharing, partners appreciate the direct link between their effort and the success of the business enterprise.  “One of the reasons that Starbucks employees are often so pleasant and helpful is that Starbucks is a great company to work for.  It takes care of employees and treats us with respect.”

p.12 We have a competitive advantage over classic brands in that every day we touch and interact with our customers directly.

p.20 Five Ways of Being: Be welcoming, genuine, considerate, knowledgeable and involved.

p.25 How can you help your team members bring their unique brand of welcoming to your business?

p.27 We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.

p.35 Baristas are encouraged to explore the possibility of becoming “Coffee Masters,” a designation reserved for Starbucks partners who have a passion to become true coffee experts.  The more an employee knows about a product–its origins, its properties–the greater the difference that employee can make in a customer’s life.

p.48 All business is detail.  When details are overlooked or missed, even the most patient of customers can be frustrated, and costly errors can occur.

p.56 “You can’t go to Disney World every day, unfortunately, so Starbucks is my affordable luxury.”

p.64 Starbucks management is constantly enhancing and perfecting training resources, not only at the product knowledge and operational levels, but also in areas that help partners take ownership in the business.  At the store level, partners are offered excerpts taken from real customer comments and are then asked to identify behaviors from the “Green Apron Book” that they would choose if they were in that situation.

p.73 The Starbucks brand, and every company’s brand, is nothing more than the sum total of the individual actions its people take.  “No matter what the music, the flavor of the day, or the wireless availability, Starbucks success is all thanks to the free and clean toilets.”

p.85 Whether its brewing coffee, designing software, or mopping floors, a commitment to Surprise and Delight literally transforms the very nature of work.

p.102 One barista explains, “I know Starbucks major focus is legendary service.  Not just great, but legendary.”

p.129 “It really helped when we stopped being a brand and instead showed up as people.”

p.157 By taking a strong stand on social issues and holding itself publicly accountable for delivering on its commitments, Starbucks has attracted the interest of many different constituencies, not least of which are top job applicants.

p.170 “Each year we go down to the post office, and we get all the Santa letters.  We read through the letters, and we choose the most challenging ones.”


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.