The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

February 15, 2008

Book review: 'Starbucks,' other biographies on the nightstand

I go through phases on what genres or topics in which I read. Here are a few biographies that have been on my nightstand of late.

‘How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else’

By Michael Gates Gill

Michael Gates Gill grew up knowing he would go to Yale, get married, have a family and be successful. This is what his father did. This is what was expected of him. And this is exactly what he did until one day he was fired from his six-figure job at a large ad agency for which he’s worked all of his adult life. Along with his job, he lost his wife at about the same time because of an affair that produced Gill’s fifth child.

Gill tried to start a consulting business, but after a while, business started falling off and he was having trouble getting clients and prospective clients to call him back. It was at this time he learned that he had a tumor in his brain and would eventually need surgery. This meant he really needed to find a job that provided health insurance.

One morning, he slips into Starbucks, his office of sorts, not knowing that the company was holding a hiring fair. Periodically when stores are hiring, one store will host a fair for several area managers to come in and talk to potential “partners.”

While sitting at a table, a young woman, Crystal, flippantly asks Gill if he’d like a job. Without hesitation and to both their surprise, he says “Yes!” Crystal has Gill fill out an application form and proceeds to interview him.

Several weeks later, Gill gets a call from Crystal asking if he still wants a job and if so to be at the store the next afternoon. Gill shows up, and this book chronicles the next year of his life as he learns how Starbucks works as a company, how those who aren’t born into money work and live, and more importantly, he learns what he really values in life.

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