Perhaps you have a little down time over the next few days now that Christmas is over. This is a good opportunity to read some inspirational stories or biographies. I can recommend several that you may find hard to put down once you begin. The following people have incredible stories that have impacted me, so I want to share my list:
John Wesley – the founder of Methodism in the 1700’s and one of the most influential people in all of Christianity.
John Newton – a former slave trader who converted to Christianity and is best known for writing the hymn Amazing Grace. His ministry was in the late 1700’s.
Adoniram Judson – an American missionary to the country of Burma in the early 1800’s. It took him three years to learn the language, and converts were slow in coming. Lots of fascinating stories.
Hudson Taylor – an incredible story of a man who was totally committed to ministering to the Chinese culture. He spent over fifty years as a missionary in China. Keep in mind what life might have been like during that time period.
George Muller – one of the most inspirational stories you’ll ever read. He cared for over 10,000 orphans in England without asking for money. You’ll read some amazing answers to prayer.
Bill Bright – perhaps the greatest evangelist outside Billy Graham in the 20th century.
Through Gates of Splendor – This book is about five guys and their wives who went to Equador and lost their lives trying to reach a tribe no one else had been able to approach. Note: You may not be able to put this book down. I read it in one sitting years ago.
That’s enough to keep you busy and is way more entertaining than a movie at the local theater. One of these books could actually change your life, while most movies won’t have that kind of impact.
Choose one and enjoy.
The story of how Starbucks almost went away, in fact it’s stock price was well below $10 a share, and how it recovered to where it is profitable and how it’s current stock price is at $60, is in one word, fascinating.
This is a great read for any individual or organizational leader to read. The quotes that I have included will just give you a taste of what’s in the book. Also, another word that describes the book is hope. The light had almost gone out at Starbucks.
While my copy is highlighted and dog-eared all over, I have chosen just a few quotes to give you an idea of what’s in the book. In the following quotes I have italicized some key words.
9. “Every time a barista had to tell a customer, ‘Sorry, we’re out of vanilla syrup’ or ‘We didn’t receive our banana shipment so I can’t make your Vivanno,’ the fragile trust between Starbucks and our partners and between Starbucks and our customers fractured.”
10. “Starbucks’ store managers were keys to the company’s transformation. All the cost cuts and innovation meant nothing unless our baristas understood their personal responsibility to connect with customers…” p. 193
11. “…reinforced how much a barista’s job matters given that he or she quite possibly might serve up the only human connection in a customer’s day.” p. 198
12. “I’ve never embraced traditional advertising for Starbucks…our success had been won with millions of daily interactions.” p. 211
13. “In September 2008, Starbucks had parted ways, somewhat painfully, with our primary advertising agency of four years…” p. 211
14. “…the more critical the times, the more important it is…to work together in a non-political, non-emotional, fact-focused way.” p. 221
15. “Although I never stopped believing that Starbucks would emerge from the darkness, I was nonetheless experiencing an emotional roller coaster daily.” p. 222
16. “And while I would not want to constantly battle against the odds, the raw feeling of accomplishing something that others did not think possible, or leading people beyond where they thought they could go, is extremely gratifying.” 302
17. “Never expect a silver bullet…Stick to your values…Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes…Believe.” p. 309
As you read the book you realize that Howard Schultz put himself through a lot. In other words, he had enough money. He did not have to go back to Starbucks. So why did he do it?
“Quite simply, I love this company and the responsibility that goes with it. Onward…” p. 311
Onward is a candid and compelling story of a remarkable comeback. This book is required reading.
Onward was one of my favorite books not long ago. I purchased it as soon as it came out and devoured it within the week. It’s the story of how Starbucks almost went away with a worsening economy and internal troubles.
However, the former CEO, Howard Schultz, came back as CEO and began to once again oversee the day to day operations.
Today Starbucks’ stock price has increased almost ten-fold from its low. It has once again returned to profitability. Since I go there regularly, their story has always intrigued me.
The book is a great read as it covers the decision making, the store closings, and also the elimination of some of its people. On the one hand I’m sure many felt that Schultz went about it the wrong way. For some it could appear that he was unnecessarily ruthless at times. But Starbucks had lost its way, and someone had to right the ship. Howard Schultz was the man to do it.
I have included twenty quotes that sort of summarize the decisions, the emotional turmoil, and the process that brought Starbucks back. Rather than include all twenty in one post, I will break it into two posts with several highlights in each post. These are all the words of Howard Schultz.
1. “There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust.” p. 7
2. “What upset me, what felt like a blow to the gut, was the leak. I could not imagine who would do such a thing. It was nothing less than betrayal. In my life I place enormous value on loyalty and trust.” p. 27
3. “Saying good-bye to people when they leave Starbucks never gets easier, even when I think it is the right choice for the company, and especially when I truly respect the individual.” p. 60
4. “Did we have the right people with the right skills in place for everything that needed attention.” p.77
5. “Our coffee and marketing departments went out and conducted their own taste tests to gain a definitive understanding of what many consumers really wanted in lieu of a bold brew–not what we assumed they wanted, which was a weak, inferior coffee. What we heard, what many people told us, was that they wanted Starbucks to sell a more consistent, balanced brewed coffee.” p. 85
6. “Closing so many stores felt like a defeat, even if it was the right thing to ensure the company’s health.” p. 152
7. “Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once motivated me–40,000 stores!–are not what matter. The only number that matters is ‘one.’ One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time.” p. 156
8. “I know people are angry and grieving and I know people are mad. But I had to make the difficult choice (and consider) the long-term sustainability of the company.” p. 172
Obviously being at the top can be emotionally draining and incredibly challenging.
In my next post I will add some more quotes and lessons from a great comeback.
One of the sad realities of many marriages is that the honeymoon not only ends, but often the marriage fails. To be fair there is no way that couples can adequately foresee the troubles that are just over the horizon.
Les and Leslie Parrot address four huge things that can destroy a marriage. Who expects infertility when they get married? Depression is widespread and can wreak havoc on a good marriage. What about a rebellious child? What about a disabled child? One of my mentors said that the divorce rate among couples with a disabled child is eighty percent!
The truth is every marriage is susceptible to being overcome by a number of things. It could start unraveling right after the wedding as couples learn to adjust to schedules and idiosyncrasies. When there are jokes going around about sharing the same toothpaste and how to unroll toilet paper, you know it doesn’t take much for problems to arise.
Marriage is like a vacation. They all start out well, but often there are flat tires, kids fighting in the back seat, and tempers out of control. Growing up my mother would pile all five of us kids in the car and we would set out for Arizona to visit my grandparents. When we left, mom’s purse was full of money. When we got home, we were eating crackers and drinking water and riding on fumes. We barely made it.
Sounds like a lot of marriages. The ones that do make it, barely do so. It doesn’t have to be that way. In this book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages, the Parrots offer advice on getting back to good, overcoming the bad, and how to have a successful marriage.
Pick this one up. It is required reading for all married couples and couples about to be married.
The sad part is, many are clueless. They have overlooked some things assuming that romantic love would somehow continue throughout their lives.
Another reality is this. If we are not meeting the emotional needs of our spouse, someone else may. Unmet needs are typically at the bottom of an affair.
It doesn’t have to be that way. This book may open your eyes to what’s behind your marital dissatisfaction.
The truth is we all have needs that our spouse must meet, or we become emotionally bankrupt. And when our emotional bank account is empty the marriage is in trouble.
However, marriages can be rebuilt, restored, and rejuvenated. All you have to do is start making deposits. And those are made by meeting the needs of our spouse.
Willard Harley, in his incredibly helpful book, His Needs, Her Needs, addresses the top five emotional needs of a husband and a wife. While we are not all made the same, no marriage can afford to miss this book.
This book is one of my favorites and may just be the key to renewing your marriage.
Growing up my dad was a strong proponent of hard work. Physical labor was always admired and held in high esteem in our house.
Now while I was more than ready to work, I also had a fondness for reading. Even as a kid I would sometimes sit and read in an encyclopedia. In fact, back then our family would purchase the yearly update to the World Book Encyclopedia. I would always find time to read part of that yearly volume.
Now that I am in the ministry I continue to read, about 500 pages per week. I am always reading, researching, and writing.
One of the hardest mental concepts I have had to overcome is that I am really working even when physical labor is not involved. Ministry includes things like reading, writing messages, meeting with people, and praying. And while the apostle Paul said that he labored in praying, most people cannot identify prayer alongside hard labor.
Abraham Lincoln grew up in an agrarian society in which physical labor was highly valued. Yet Lincoln found himself reading.
Of course, in his day, reading was somewhat frowned upon. His own cousin considered him lazy, actually very lazy. To the cousin all Lincoln wanted to do was read and write poetry.
However, it was his reading that eventually paved the way for him to seek the presidency of the United States. Somewhere along the way he became comfortable challenging the old concept that placed a high value on physical labor and a low value on reading and writing.
Somewhere in the recesses of your mind you are holding on to a concept that may be holding you back from being who you were meant to be. Whatever your vision, it may not be encouraged by your peers.