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Howard Schultz is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, venture capitalist (see venture capitalist Mark Cuban’s bio), and environmental activist. The former Chairman and CEO of Starbucks has had an inspiring story with roots from an abusive war veteran father, a depressed mother, and a life in the housing projects to be at the helm of a multi-billion company.
Banking on this impressive transformation from a city retail store to a multi-billion global company, he set out to succeed Trump as an independent candidate.
When Schultz joined Starbucks, he envisioned a social community bound by the love of coffee. A vision his employers, mothers, and coffee sale statics didn’t share. He resigned, raised capital, and, true to his intention, built a multi-billion company before stepping down.
He would again resume as CEO when the company financially bled to the near point of insolvency. His resumption came with radical changes, including seeking new openings in Asian countries, layoffs, and environmental support. His unorthodox way of doing things resuscitated the company, inspired confidence, and catapulted it to profits that had never been achieved before.
But it hasn’t been all rosy for the budding billionaire. At some point, he worked part-time to pay bills when in University. And when it really got thick, he opted to sell his blood to pay bills.
But as you can tell, he finally made it. Not just making it, he made it big. Let’s delve into the rags to riches story (see Tomas Gorny’s riches to rags bio) of Howard Schultz.
Howard Schultz’s Biofacts
Full Name: Howard Schultz
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York
Birth Date: July 19, 1953
Nick Name: Horwie
Siblings: Michal Schultz and Ronnie Schultz
Children: Eliahu Jordan Schultz and Addison Schultz.
Partner /Spouse: Sheri Kersch (M. 1982)
Profession: Entrepreneur, Businessman, Venture Capitalist
Salary: $21.8 million
Net Worth: $5.5 billion, Forbes
Social Media: Twitter:@HowardSchultz
Companies Associated With: Starbucks, Maveron.
Last Updated: August 2021
Books Published: Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice, From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America
Howard Schultz’s Key Facts
- He went to University on a football scholarship.
- His ex-veteran father was physically abusive.
- His dream of owning Starbucks was saved by Bill Gates senior.
- He built Starbucks from less than 12 stores to over 30,000 outlets.
- He introduced healthcare insurance for all Starbucks employees.
- He partnered with Arizona online University to give some of his employees free tuition.
- He wanted to run for the Presidency as an independent candidate.
- He is an environmental activist.
- He owns a yacht and a chopper.
- He has published four books.
- He supports same sex marriages.
- Closed Starbucks for half day to train baristas on how to brew coffee.
- Has served as CEO of Starbucks twice.
Howard Schultz’s Birthplace and Early life
Schultz was born to Fred and Elaine Schultz on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York, to a lower-middle-class family. Schultz is the oldest of three kids. His father, a war veteran and mother receptionist struggled to make ends meet by living by hand.
His ancestors, great grandparents from both the paternal (was a tailor) and maternal (was a barrel maker) side, arrived in the US as immigrants in the 1890’s with nothing but the hope of living the American dream.
It was this dream that Schultz’s father sought to secure for his kids when he enlisted. When push came to shove, his family moved to Bayview to the federally subsidized Housing projects in Canarsie. But as fate would have it, he came back broke, weary, distraught, and like his ancestors, had nothing to his name.
Schultz’s father did numerous odd jobs before getting another as a driver delivering cloth diapers to fend for his family. All was well until one icy day in winter when Schultz’s father slipped and broke his knee and hip. He was immediately laid off with not even a cent to his name. At the time, his mother was seven months pregnant and couldn’t work either.
To make things worse, his father had no health insurance. No savings and the company couldn’t even consider him for worker’s compensation. To get by, Schultz had to pick calls from bill collectors to lie that their parents weren’t home.
As the noose tightened on finances for his family, Schultz, who was seven by then, found solace in sports.
He would soon discover that he was a natural athlete who effortlessly led his peers when playing football and basketball in the dusty concrete courts. He also played baseball for his high school team. His prowess in the football pitch saw him get a scholarship to Northern Michigan University in 1970, just a year before graduating from Canarsie High School.
The scholarship to attend University was a significant achievement for his lineage. This is because his parents never saw the inside of a high school classroom while his great grandparents barely uttered any English word. So when the football scholarship came, his mother, commonly called Bobbi, a firm believer of the American Dream, encouraged him to build a better life for himself.
A charged Schultz arrived at Northern Michigan University (NMU) ready to weather the obstacles thrown at him. To sustain himself at NMU he worked part-time and heavily relied on student loans. At one point, things got so thick that he had to sell his blood to pay for some bills.
At graduation in 1975, his folks couldn’t afford to travel for his graduation. But this wasn’t a bother, and a delighted Schultz graduated with a degree in communications.
Howard Schultz’s Business Career
His first earning gig was in a ski lodge, where he worked for one year before leaving for New York in 1976 to join Xerox Corporation.
Schultz joined the fortune 500 company in 1976 after he was recruited and trained as a salesperson by their New York branch. As a competitive sports person with a natural social predisposition, he could thrive in his new job. As a salesperson, Schultz had to make up to 50 cold calls per day.
His efforts paid off, and saw him promoted to a sales representative one year into his new job.
Sensing more opportunities to grow more rapidly within the ranks in a smaller company, Schultz resigned three years into his new job to take up another job with a Swedish houseware company.
During this time, Schultz split his earnings halfway with his family, who were financially crippled.
Schultz joined Hammerplast in 1979 as an appliance salesman for the Swedish company’s branch in the US. The company specialized in the manufacturing of drip coffee makers. While there, he rose through the ranks to first the Vice President in New York and then General Manager of US operations.
While looking through the numbers, he noticed that one of their largest customers was a small retailer company in Seattle, Washington, named Starbucks Coffee Tea and Spice Company. The company bought many more coffee makers than Macy’s. A closer look was even more astounding. He notes;
“Every month, every quarter, these numbers were going up, even though Starbucks just had a few stores, and I said, I gotta go up to Seattle.”
So when the chance came to fill Starbucks plastic cone filters, Schultz took it up and flew to the company’s main offices in Seattle, Washington.
When he got to Seattle, he was so impressed with the company. In a leadership lesson with Forbes, the interview transcription vividly relieves how Schultz felt professionally at home.
The love was so infectious that it infused a liking for coffee to buyers, all of whom left carrying the taste and smell of coffee. Curiosity got the best of him, and he also ordered a cup of coffee, to which he could years later recall “I had never had a good cup of coffee.”
Seeing a potential opportunity, Schultz made plans to get hired by the company.
The Meeting with Starbucks Founders
Convinced that Starbucks is where he wanted to be, Schultz visited the company and met the company founders to ask for a job. He met the founders, two college buddies, and a neighbor more frequently over the months.
He particularly pursued Jerry, to whom he sold his idea about the potential he saw in the company.
Convinced, Jerry set up a dinner date with the other investors. They keenly listened and promised to get back to him later. By then, the company had its ubiquitous mermaid logo.
However, the company had no plans to hire him. But it wasn’t just the company that was against his plans. The coffee business was rapidly shrinking in the USA from as early as 1962, his mother vehemently objected to his plan, and his current job seemed more promising.
The answer came through the next day. “I’m sorry, Howard, they decided not to hire you, “said Jerry. He explained to Schultz that his extensive radical change did not augur well with the company founders who wanted to run a lean locale-specific business.
Undeterred, Schultz explained to Jerry why not hiring him would be detrimental to their company. Convinced again, Jerry promised to talk to Baldwin to try and sell him the idea of having Schultz hired.
The following day, and a year after Schultz sought employment with Starbucks, Schultz received a call from Jerry. He had finally managed to convince his partner, who was Fourteen years his senior, to hire Schultz.
Starbucks Coffee Tea and Spice Company
In 1982, Schultz finally joined Starbucks Coffee Tea and Spice Company as a retail operations and marketing director. This was after spending a year trying to convince the owners to hire him.
To be closer to his new work premises, he moved, together with his wife Sheri, to New York.
When joining the company, it had three stores in Seattle and only focused on selling coffee, tea, and spices but never beverages.
However, at some point, the company had a big espresso machine behind the counter, but even then, they were in the bean business. During a business trip to Milan, Italy, Schultz discovered that the city had over 1,500 coffeehouses. Inspired and bursting with enthusiasm with a new expansion plan, Schultz returned from Milan a week later to discuss the company’s future with the owners.
However, the company owners didn’t share in his enthusiasm and were hell-bent on just selling beans.
To them, they were not cut from a cloth made for the service industry. After much persistence, they finally allowed Schultz to pilot an espresso bar in a new branch starting in Seattle.
The espresso bar mimicked the Milan concept, complete with a seating lounge for customers. It picked up so well that soon he had more customers than he could serve. On realizing how big it was, the owners disagreed with Schultz preferring to just stick with beans.
Though intrigued by the idea, they were not ready to bankroll a venture surrounded by uncertainty. To them, American’s were unfamiliar with the drink, the machines were costly, and there was an acute shortage of skilled men who could maintain and repair the machines. Based on these, they turned down Schultz’s idea.
Disappointed, Schultz resigned and left to start his own company in 1985, three years after he literally begged the company to hire him. But first, he had to get $400,000. Living off his wife’s salary, Schultz knocked on uncountable doors seeking investors.
One Too Many Rejections
To be exact, he approached over 242 people with the proposal of his new company. Of the 242 people, 217 couldn’t buy his idea. To keep hope alive, Schultz visited over 500 espresso bars in Milan to fully understand how they operated while seeking startup capital.
He finally managed to secure all the funds in 1986, with his former bosses contributing $150,000 and a doctor friend contributing $100,000.
With the $400,000, Schultz started Il Giornale, named after a famous Milanese Newspaper that goes by the same name. The store was into coffee, ice cream and had some seating space, and played soothing opera music in the background.
Two years after he had opened his stores, his former employer came to him. With a heavy heart, he explained to Schultz that he had gotten into financial troubles after buying another company named Pete’s Coffee and Tea.
To help free himself from the financial problem, he wanted to sell Starbucks Coffee Tea and Spice Company for $3.8 million and move to California with Pete’s Coffee Tea. He then gave Schultz 60-days exclusive to raise the money.
Twenty-four hours to the lapse of the exclusive, he came back to find Schultz with half the amount required. Unknown to Schultz, one of his investors, a titan in the business circles, had offered $4 million, which the Starbuck owner was willing to take if Schultz failed to raise the remaining amount.
A disappointed Schultz went home downcast and disappointed. He narrated his unfortunate turn of events to a lawyer friend who told him, “come see my boss.” And who is your boss? Bill Gates senior, father to Bill gates (proceed to Bill Gates’ bio).
The following day Schultz met Gates Snr and explained to him everything he had told his lawyer friend. Gates asked to leave and come back in two hours. When he came back, they left to see the Titan, and Gates cajoled him and asked him to withdraw his offer immediately.
On their way back, Gates told him that they (Schultz, Gates senior, and junior) would buy Starbucks.
Starbucks Coffee Company
Il Giornale merged with Starbucks Coffee Tea and Spice Company to form Starbucks Coffee Company in 1988. He also assumed office as the first CEO and Chairman of the company. Within the first year, he expanded the reach to more than 15 stores and 150 by 1992.
His plans to expand across the US hit a hiatus after he became financially constrained. In need of finances and not a believer of Franchising, he took the company public on June 26, 1992, from which he was able to raise $271 million from the IPO. The IPO funds were used to double the number of Starbuck stores in the US over the next few years.
At the time, each share went for $2.25 but would gain to close at $47 per share in 6 years.
By 1997, Starbucks had over 1300 stores, had Starbucks coffee packaging in grocery stores, was available in Hawaii, Japan, and Singapore, had 5 million cumulative buyers in any one week, and projected net sales of over $1billion by the end of 1998. He finally resigned as CEO but remained as Chairman in 2000.
He, however, made a comeback 8-years later to help a bleeding company that was 7-months away from insolvency. In a meeting held in New Orleans with all 11,000 store managers, Schultz explains to the store managers the heavy responsibility they all had to protect the livelihood of those who depended on them.
During the 4-day meeting, with one day spent doing community work after the Hurricane, Starbucks incurred $33 million on expenses and lost over $50 million in sales. Something that really angered investors. Later on, he also closed Starbucks for a whole afternoon to retrain the workers to make Espresso.
He also introduced a healthcare insurance program for all full-time and part-time Starbucks employees.
In yet another unorthodox move, he pledged to financially support climate action causes through Starbucks. On his return, he also pursued opening more outlets in China, a country historically known to prefer tea to coffee.
By the time he was retiring as CEO, Starbucks had a market cap of over $78 billion, was available in over 78 countries, and had more than 30,000 outlets worldwide (see how Liz Claiborne also built a global empire).
During his tenure within Starbucks ‘ company hierarchy, he partnered with CARE, a Georgia-based International Relief and development program, where Starbucks has grown to be the highest corporate donor.
Partnered with veterans to offer them jobs and training on how to reintegrate into society.
He struck a deal with Arizona State University to offer free online tuition to Starbuck employees.
Choose to support same-sex marriage.
He has published 4-books.
Board of Square Inc
Schultz joined Square Inc, founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (proceed to Jack Dorsey’s bio) in 2009 by investing $25 million. The investment earned him a seat on the company’s board before he finally stepped down after one year. In the partnership, the debit and credit payment company oversaw the processing of coffee payments by clients across Starbucks ‘ branches.
There is no doubt Schultz loves basketball. His hey-days talk of how a young Schultz spent hours honing his skills in the concrete courts of the Canarsie housing project. So when he came to the aid of a financially struggling Supersonics, some breathed a sigh of relief. But some were infuriated.
To be firmly in control, Schultz paid $200 million, in 2001 together with some investors, to the local company that had owned it for decades. He then embarked on a tour to try to understand how he could improve it. His tenure saw him rebrand the team, change its logo and guide it to the finals before quickly selling it in 2006.
The new company moved it to Oklahoma City, which drew sharp criticisms from fans, former players, lawmakers in Washington, and Seattle city council members. Schultz would later author a book “The Obligations are Different,” about his tenure with the NBA team.
However, his decisions would come to haunt him years later when he announced a bid to take a stab at the highest political office in the land as an independent candidate.
The erosion of trust he engineered by selling the NBA team after failure to successfully secure funding to build a new arena came in time to haunt. Even though he labeled the NBA team as a public trust and the customer as a partner, he still proceeded to sell.
To add salt to injury, he drew blood first from the players by referring to them as disengaged and overpaid.
Therefore, it was not surprising that some fans donned the white and green team Jersey and carried placards oozing rhetoric, “Trust Schultz?”
Unfortunately, he had a series of health-related issues, and the fear of paving a way to the re-election of Trump saw him shelf his presidential ambitions.
Howard Schultz’s Family
Schultz married Sheri Kersch, with whom he has two kids, Eliahu Jordan Schultz and Addison Schultz. The two met in the early 1970s when Schultz’s family was financially struggling.
Schultz was always ashamed of taking her home, and he dreaded meeting Sheri’s father. He has two younger siblings; Michal Schultz and Ronnie Schultz.
Howard Schultz’s Youtube Videos
In this short YouTube Video, Schultz is taken to task by the interviews to respond to insults hurled at him by former president Donald Trump in a tweet. In the tweet, Trump calls Schultz labels him dumb, claiming that he is not one of the smartest guys he knows.
Schultz is also taken to task on how he overcame the abusive childhood experience he had that left him traumatized and his mother driven to depression. He responds with how he struggled to bring policies that will appreciate those under him and how he has struggled to make his parents proud. But unfortunately, both are not there to enjoy the success he has achieved.
In yet another question, he is asked why he wants to run as president? Why not start with the congress, governor, or Mayor? One panelist even draws both parallels and similarities between Trump and Schultz. To her, both are businessmen, and how different will his reign be from that of Trump?
In this interview conducted by Dr. Sanjayan, Schultz reminisces how he almost lost the chance to own Starbucks. He recalls how an influential California-based businessman was ready to outbid the exclusive offer of $3.4 million to pay for Starbucks.
His luck came in Bill Gates Sn, a father to Bill Gates, who stood up to the business and demanded that he step down to allow the young Schultz to actualize his dreams. He confesses how not even Bill Gates never knew of the story until he told it at a conference.
He also flashes back to how Starbucks almost went into insolvency with him as Chairman due to a series of mistakes he deeply regrets. To save the company, he took yet another decision to assume the role of CEO despite the criticism and advice by Wall Street economists who saw him as part of the problem.
He also touches on how he sought to build a company that would appreciate laborers, ensure their health and treat them with dignity. A company his father never had a chance to work for. He also talks of how proud he is of his partnership with Arizona University with all his workers.
Plus, the climatic conservation measures he is spearheading. He finally talks of how he wants to provide an alternative to the lifetime Democrats and Liberals who have lost hope and are on the verge of despair.
Howard Schultz Earnings and Net Worth
According to Forbes, Schultz is worth $5.5 billion as of the writing of this bio. Most of his money is held up as an equity stock in Starbucks, a major shareholder of the publicly held company.
His stake is equivalent to 3% of the multi-billion dollar company that has over 30,000, has a market cap of $78 billion and has branches worldwide and is present in more than 78 countries.
He is also the founder of Maveron, a venture capitalist firm that has invested over $1.3 billion in Drugstore.com, Zulily, and eBay (see how Jack Ma fought eBay with Taobao).
By the time Schultz was exiting as CEO in 2016, his salary was $21.8 million per year. The company, in a move to have him step down as CEO offered to have him make as much as their Current CEO even if he didn’t do the job.
Howard Schultz Real Estate Holdings
$40 million New York Penthouse
Initially listed for $45 million and marketed as a jewel box in the sky, the CEO paid 40 million to acquire the sprawling property. The property occupies 5,587 square feet of space and has four bedrooms and five and a half baths.
Vacation Home In Hawaii’s Hualalai
Like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (proceed to Mark Zuckerberg’s bio), Schultz has a vacation home in Hawaii’s Hualalai. The 1.8-acre property was initially listed for $33 million but sold to Schultz at $25 million. The eight-bedroomed property is located in the exclusive Four seasons development within the Hualalai resort area.
Howard Schultz’s Quotes
“Risk more than others think safe.”
“In times of adversity and change, we really discover who we are and what we’re made of.”
“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies.”
“You have to have 100% belief in your core reason for being.”
“Believe in your dreams and dream big.”
“I think the currency of leadership is transparency.”
“You have to create the thing you want to be part of.”
“I am convinced that most people can achieve their dreams and beyond if they have the determination to keep trying.”
“Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake. Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning.”
“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.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Who is Howard Schultz’ father?
Answer: Schultz’s father is Fred Schultz. Fred was an ex-veteran who, after coming back from the war, worked in a series of low-paying jobs before finally securing another one as a cloth diaper driver.
He slipped and broke his ankle and hip and spent his last days desolate and hopeless. He was abusive and drove Schultz’s mother to depression.
Question: Where is Howard Schultz from?
Answer: Howard Schultz is from the city of Brooklyn, New York, in the United States.
Question: How was Howard Schultz’s childhood?
Answer: Schultz’s childhood was tough, and both his parents worked really hard to pay bills and put food on the table. He grew up in a public housing project where he played football, basketball, and baseball. Through these very sports, he was secure a scholarship that saw him escape from this challenging situation.