retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes has a long piece about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, focusing largely on how he is trying to redefine his company in social/cultural terms, believing that it has a larger purpose than just selling coffee. Schultz calls it delivering “performance through the lens of humanity,” and he has a laundry list of issues about which he'd like to play a conciliatory role, providing a platform for - ironically - discourse that is somewhat less caffeinated than is typical on the public stage.

Certainly, there have been missteps. But,"undeterred, the Seattle coffee king’s ambitions remain as big as ever, with Schultz targeting death-penalty injustices, chronic unemployment, veterans’ needs and the college aspirations of his baristas," the story says. "Watching Schultz’s crusades in the wake of the race debacle is akin to seeing a sword-swallower at a carnival. Each project generates its own rush of excitement. Each is tinged by a thrilling, terrifying sense that it could all go horribly wrong in an instant."

You can read the entire, fascinating story here.
KC's View:
I have such mixed emotions about Howard Schultz. One the one hand, it always seems to me that he has a bit of a messiah complex, with pretensions that I find a little off-putting. On the other hand, I admire chutzpah ... and he has enough of that for a dozen people. In the end, he'll be judged by what he has built ... and by that standard, it is hard to argue with his approach.