Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Starbucks Saved my Life by Michael Gates Gill

The best thing about this book is what I learned about Starbucks. First of all, I LOVE the coffee. Even the decaf tastes like regular. At four-something a cup, I felt a little annoyed at spending so much for a coffee from another big, heartless, soulless corporation. Now, I actually feel good about spending that money. Starbucks is an amazing and wonderful exception in the cold Arctic landscape filled by most big businesses today. Full benefits for part time employees? If they can do it, so can Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world.

That aside, the book was annoying. The constant name dropping was first on the list. Queen Elizabeth? Jackie Kennedy? Ernest Hemingway? Give me a break. Gill is still a pompous ass, no matter what the partners thought of him. I am sure, if JWT (his old employer, the advertising giant J. Walter Thompson) called him up and offered his old job back, he would take it in a minute. I mean advertising? Is there a larger bunch of lying, conniving, slithering snakes anywhere? I am not convinced that after 30 years of that life he could completely turn himself around to a newer, shiner, more sensitive version in only one year.

I do believe in redemption, and I am glad he saw the tragedies he left behind during his climb to the top, but all that came too late for those he crushed on that ascent. I was thinking about Enron when I was reading this, and I doubt, that for even a nanosecond, Ken Lay and all his cronies ever thought, “This scheme will make us millions, but it will hurt a lot of ordinary people if it fails.” I doubt any of the executives at JWT read the book and ever thought, “We should be nicer to our employees.”

Another annoying feature of this book was the numerous grammatical errors.

Last, but not least, and perhaps I am being a bit too cynical here, but it is almost as if Gill saw the opportunity leading to a book. I just wish he had a better editor. 2 stars

--Chiron, 2/27/08

1 comment: said...

Michael Gates Gill is still at Starbucks and he offered Dr. Young a cup of coffee on Wed. Check out our pics on