Steve Jobs screamed advice at Starbucks CEO, who wishes he'd listened

in General Discussion

Then Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked Steve Jobs for advice and got a profane tirade in response -- which he says he later wished he'd listened to.

Starbucks storefront with a green awning and circular logo featuring a mermaid.
Starbucks seems to have done okay despite ignoring advice from Steve Jobs

In 2008, Schultz reportedly asked many people for advice about problems he was having with the Starbucks coffee company. But perhaps his wisest choice was Steve Jobs, who the following year would be named the worlds' best performing CEO by Harvard Business Review.

However, speaking on the Acquired podcast -- a business series beloved by Apple's Eddy Cue -- Schultz said he didn't think Jobs was serious.

"Basically, we took a walk... [and] I just told him all my problems, everything that was going on," said Schultz. "He just stopped me and said: 'This is what you need to do,'" continued the Starbucks CEO. "'You go back to Seattle and you fire everyone on your leadership team.' I thought he was joking."

"'I just told you,'" continued Jobs. "F***** fire all those people."

"He was screaming in my face," said Schultz. "I said 'Steve, I can't fire all these people, who's going to do the work?'"

"He said: 'I promise you in six months, maybe nine, they'll be gone,'" continued Schultz. "He was right. Except for one, the general counsel, they were all gone."

So Schultz had ignored Jobs's advice and continued for that time with a dwindling leadership team. At some point later, Schultz says he met Jobs at an event and told him that he had been right, that they had all left.

"'Well, you're six months, nine months late,'" said Jobs, "think about all the things you could've done."

Schultz doesn't say if he were annoyed by Jobs. But even if he were, some years after these exchanges, he had Starbucks buy 23,000 iPads for staff training.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 6
    And... absolutely nothing about why Jobs was saying that.  No substance whatsoever.

    But hey, the expensive mediocre coffee company still sells a lot of expensive mediocre coffee, so it didn't really matter anyway.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 551member
    And now Starbucks has gone from being a favored "third place" to yet another victim of cost-cutting and "efficiency".

    Be interesting to see if Starbucks or Panera falls first. 

    And it will also be interesting to see if future business schools ever focus on how incessant cost cutting and the resulting reductions in quality and service have killed off business after business.
    edited June 10 Ofer40domibaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,299member
    Would've been nice to get a bit more meat to this article, as without basically any substance, this just showcases what we already knew of Steve, that he loved to scream and swear, and that he was right >95% of the time.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,887administrator
    Would've been nice to get a bit more meat to this article, as without basically any substance, this just showcases what we already knew of Steve, that he loved to scream and swear, and that he was right >95% of the time.
    There's no more to be had. That's all the guy said!
    king editor the gratebeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    looplessloopless Posts: 338member
    John Oliver hit the nail on the head when he said something along the lines that Starbucks is now just a public toilet that serves some coffee as well.  It is so depressing to go into some locations where they have removed all the tables and chairs so the homeless don't hang out. The "baristas" look tense and worried having to deal with it. 
  • Reply 6 of 6
    tony_gtony_g Posts: 1member
    Great read William!

    I have a different read on the article. Yes, I can see where one might appreciate the background context and in full disclosure I love John Oliver, but am not a fan of Starbucks. I think Oliver's assessment of what Starbucks has become is spot on.

    But as an Executive Leader, the message to me is clear. 

    Don't be afraid to take risks and act!

    Working in the Silicon Valley for over two decades, you don't have to go far to hear stories about Steve Jobs' leadership and his management style. Based on the way Schultz describes it, Jobs clearly saw something in his leadership team that he himself didn't. 

    My take away (which I find to be extremely timely today) is to not be afraid, but rather be decisive. It's scary wondering how you'll go on, backfill and "who's going to do the work" in the meantime. But in the end, Schultz's leadership team vacated and what opportunities were missed during the six to nine months in not taking action and prolonging the inevitable?

    This is not Starbucks specific. I'm sure we've all lamented a situation where we should've taken advice and acted sooner... 

    Thanks again William, just the nudge I needed today!
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