How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill

How starbucks saved my life

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


This is actually the third time I’ve come back to this book.
I got this book sometime around 2012 or 2013, shortly after I started reading English novels. Even with my relatively limited vocabulary, I remember finishing this book without a major struggle.

This time, I listened to this book; I got the audiobook from audible.
Surprisingly, the words the author weaved sank in me much better and stronger than they did with physical books – power of narration, I thought.

Rambling aside, I think I can safely say that this is a story of redemption of a 64-year old Caucasian man who has fallen from the corporate ladder and lost both his social status and family; a story of his struggles and new revelations.

I can’t say much about the corporate culture in Starbucks as I don’t know anything about it and things can be quite different in Japan given how different predisposition Japanese people can have from that of Western people, but I find the book quite interesting, telling us a lot of ins and outs of Starbucks – the tempestuous rush before closing and opening shop, the intricate ordering system, and most importantly, the culture of referring to customers as ‘guests’ rather than ‘customers.’
I think that speaks volumes how highly Starbucks think of us, how they respect us. It was quite a revelation to me.

Through the constant streak of challenges that Mike faces working at Starbucks, he also learns what he had missed out in his previous corporate life being a person of privilege. Once he started his job at Starbucks, he throws off his preconceived ideas and starts seeing things from a different light and becomes more appreciative towards things around him.
I really enjoyed seeing his transition, it teaches us you can change your attitude irrespective of how old you are.

Another thing this book teaches me is the power of a simple ‘good,’ what seems like a light, casual recognition.

When we are expecting words of vigorous recognition such as “wow, well done! You made it! I’m impressed!,” a simple one-word responses like, ‘OK,’ ‘Good’ tend to disappoint and discourage us given the efforts that went into.
However, this book teaches that you don’t have to let it get you down in such situations. It tells us that even such short, simple words of acknowledgement delivers a vote of confidence from your boss or comrades; they knew it all along that you could do it. They trusted you. That is why your achievement doesn’t come as a surprise to them in the first place.
When the author’s words made me realize this, I saw the light and made a mental note that I should stop letting it get to me from now on.

One thing that slightly bothered me was the interspersed recollections of his childhood; the house he lived in growing up and some other things. I know they are important in telling his story and they were what made him what he is as a person, but I found it kind of killed the natural flow of the narrative, a bit distracting. It does make sense if the author knowingly put those descriptions to express how he can get sidetracked and swept back in the past, because it does happen to him a lot in the book. Flashbacks worked really well in that regard.

All in all, this is a very inspirational, well-written book. It is jam-packed with many life lessons that you can definitely take away and apply to your own life, and if you’re into coffee or Starbucks, this is no doubt a pick up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s