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Starbucks coffee stores are virtually ubiquitous, one on every corner it seems and now one in every major grocery or discount store—certainly one in every airport. The one person we have most to thank for this is Howard Schultz, Starbucks entrepreneur and Chairman.

I just finished reading Schultz’s book written with Dori Jones Yang, called Pour Your Heart Into It:  How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (1997). It’s a bit dated now, but the principles Schultz shares are not.

I’ve read a lot of corporate leader stories, the “How I became as successful, rich, and cool as I am now” books. Many of these books are just that—arrogant brag-fests. Some of these kinds of books are pretty shallow, quickly produced texts written primarily I think because the CEO wanted his name on a book. Still others are fairly well written and offer interesting and helpful insights. Schultz’s book is like that. I’d rate Schultz’s book with Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.’s, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside the IBM’s Historic Turnaround (2002) as the two best corporate leadership books I have ever read.

Five of Schultz’s principles include:

- “Every company must stand for something.”

- “Vision is what they call it when others can’t see what you see.

- “It’s difficult, if not impossible, to reinvent a company’s culture.”

- “Naysayers never built a great enterprise.”

- “Lead with your heart.”

I could apply all of these principles to Cornerstone University:

- CU stands for biblically Christian worldview in excellent higher education. For fifteen years we’ve worked toward this central goal. In the past five years we’ve added leadership. Christian Worldview, Excellence, Leadership.

- At CU our aspiration, our passion, is to develop a truly Christian University where Christian thinking, teaching, and learning take place and where students are energized to live for Christ in a way that changes lives and culture.

- Reinventing CU’s culture has been challenging to say the least, and the challenge continues. But we are making progress. We are today more thoroughly, biblically Christian, more professional, more excellent than we were ten or fifteen years ago. It is not impossible to reinvent culture, but it does take time.

- If we stopped moving forward every time the naysayers came out of the wood-work we wouldn’t have done anything. Naysayers sometimes have a point and always must be treated with respect. But you cannot allow them to discourage or distract you, anymore than Nehemiah did when he rebuilt the Jerusalem wall.

- More than anything else, I want students to learn that the Sovereign Creator God of biblical Christianity is truly a “Big” God—that Christian faith is not a list of rules but a vibrant interaction of God’s Word with God’s world—that we are his proactive stewards in this short but meaningful life wherein we are given unbelievable opportunities to serve him.

I highly recommend Schultz’s book to anyone interested in organizational leadership or anyone simply interested in the Starbucks success story. I highly recommend Cornerstone University to anyone wanting to find a university where Christian faith is our empowerment.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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