Howard Schultz is a titan of the business world. He built Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) into a global coffee powerhouse and one of the world's most valuable brands. Here are some of his best quotes on the lessons he learned along the way.
1. On entrepreneurship
When we love something, emotion often drives our actions.
This is the gift and the challenge entrepreneurs face every day. The companies we dream of and build from scratch are part of us and intensely personal. They are our families. Our lives.
But the entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Yes, the highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling. But the lows can break your heart. Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable
Investing in founder-led businesses can be a powerful strategy. These men and women have built their businesses from the ground up and care deeply about their enduring success. They're often willing to forgo short-term profits in order to maximize long-term value creation. Contrast that with the far too many corporate leaders who manage their companies to meet the fleeting demands of Wall Street -- often at the expense of these businesses' future prospects -- and you can begin to see why a founder's leadership can provide such a strong competitive advantage.
2. On the power of a brand
The success of Starbucks demonstrates the fact we have built an emotional connection with our customers. I think we have a competitive advantage over classic brands in that every day we get to touch and interact with our customers directly.
Fool co-founder David Gardner wrote in Rule Breakers, Rule Makers that "it's often the power of the brand that can create and sustain [a company's] success." And that power is derived from a brand's strong emotional connection with its customers. Few leaders understand this better than Schultz, and the strength of Starbucks brand is undeniable.
3. On treating people well
Our mission statement about treating people with respect and dignity is not just words but a creed we live by every day. You can't expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don't exceed the employees' expectations of management. That's the contract.
Schultz knows that the best way to delight your customers is to first take care of your people. For years, Starbucks has offered industry-leading benefits including healthcare, stock options, and even free college tuition. This had led to substantially lower employee turnover and undoubtedly improved customer service.
4. On stock prices
While Wall Street has taught me a lot, its most enduring lesson is an understanding of just how artificial a stock price is. It's all too easy to regard it as the true value of your company, and even the value of yourself.
All too often investors allow stock prices to drive their decisions, and, far worse, allow the value of their portfolios to determine their self-worth. It's true that -- over the long-term -- stock prices should reflect the underlying fundamentals of a business. However, in the short-term, many different factors can influence prices. And as Warren Buffett learned from his mentor, Ben Graham, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."
Rather than constantly checking stock prices in a futile attempt to validate their decisions, investors would be far better served remembering Buffett's warning that, "Mr. Market is there to serve you, not to guide you."
5. On leadership, offered without comment:
Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don't embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and overcommunicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable, but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it's how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.