Book Review: Onward

Onward is an enigmatic but fascinating book. It reads like a memoir, shareholder report, Howard Schultz’s personal diary, and corporate promotional material at the same time. It is simultaneously brashly conceited and remarkably humble, while being completely engaging from cover to cover. The book details Schultz’s journey as he returned as ceo (Starbucks uses lower-case titles for some odd reason) and lead Starbucks through the economic turmoil of 2007-2010.

Schultz is simply passionate about Starbucks. And passionate is not the right word, but I am not sure the right one exists in the English vocabulary. He loves Starbucks. I wonder how many other Fortune 500 CEOs live and breathe their companies like Schultz does? I get the feeling that Schultz spends every awake moment thinking about coffee and Starbucks. If Inception was possible, I am sure Leonardo DiCaprio would find Schultz in a coffee roasting plant during his dreams too. But this passion is oddly appealing. He works not for the money, but because he loves his work. How many of us can say that about our jobs

Onward is a 100% biased read, and is a perfect book to kick back over a cup of coffee (Starbucks of course) and learn about the day-to-day life of a leader orchestrating corporate change. Few books give this much behind-the-scenes detail into what goes through a leader’s mind amidst corporate changes. For those aspiring to leadership positions, experiencing this is the benefit of reading Onward. I learned more about the actual life of a ceo, and the tough decisions they need to make. It isn’t an easy life by any means. If you want a book of theory or models, this isn’t worth reading. But if you want a great experiential story, then Onward is a great read.

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