How Howard Schultz Won A Starbucks Fan For Life

Starbucks and I have had an on again/off again relationship over the years.  I like Starbucks for their consistency- I know that whether I’m in Seattle or Atlanta my caramel macchiato is going to taste like a caramel macchiato- but I’m not a huge fan of the taste of their coffee.  I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a coffee snob having grown up in the Northwest, but the older I get, the more I just want to drink coffee.  Nothing fancy, just a cup of joe, and more often than not these days, just black. When it comes to a pure cup of coffee without the added sugars and other fancy stuff, Starbucks just doesn’t really cut it.  Also, there is the whole big business thing, and I wanted to support more local venues.  And so for the past few years Starbucks has usually had me as a customer purely for the sake of convenience- if you need a little something to get you through, you can more than likely find a Starbucks nearby without much effort.  This is all about to change.


Over the weekend I read a short article from Forbes that a friend had posted on Facebook about comments made by a shareholder at Starbucks annual meeting last week. What transpired in that meeting has insured that I will happily patronize Starbucks forevermore.

Last November, Washington state (where I happily reside) decided to pass a referendum legalizing gay marriage.  Leading up to the election, the company being based in the state, Starbucks put forth a statement explaining their support in passing the referendum.  After this announcement, many customers who did not agree with this stance took up a protest against the company.

At the meeting last week, a shareholder asked Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz about the support for gay marriage as the boycott hurt the company’s bottom line that quarter.  Schultz’s response was amazing.  The Forbes article quotes him as stating:

“Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds.”

The article links to a video of this exchange, and at this point, the audience literally explodes in applause ( I encourage you to read the article and watch the video- it’s only a minute long and totally worth it).  Schultz then goes on to tell the shareholder that it is a free country, and he can sell his shares if he so wishes.

Many of the responses to this exchange that I have read in the past two days seem to express how novel it is that a business man is looking past the bottom line- and while I feel this is the correct theme and message to take away, many of them are focusing on the wrong part of Schultz’s response.  Most news outlets seem fixated on the quote telling the shareholder to sell his shares, but I think the most important part of the statement is when he says that it is not an economic decision.  

This was so completely refreshing to hear, and to see the idea in action.  I am glad that he defended Starbucks stance because the issue of marriage equality is one that is important to me, but that is not why his statement had such an impact on me; it had larger implications.  It said that some things are more important than the bottom line.  I know that there are many business today that are trying to be aware of their environmental impact, and are trying to make real change and contributions in their communities.  However, it seems that big business struggles with maintaining their moral commitments when it affects quarterly returns.  Schultz proved last week that Starbucks cares about more than just continuing to make money- they recognize the social responsibility they have as a global employer, and they are trying to take care of people- that is what is most important.

I hope that other large companies take notice of this event and see and hear how excited people were when Schultz defended the company’s stance on equal rights.  I believe that people want to see big business take action and desire to hear them say that some things are more important than the bottom line.  In telling the shareholder to sell his stock, I don’t think Schultz hurt his company- I bet he just made more people want to invest.  I know that I want to invest in companies that I believe are making a difference and stand for something, and I am pretty sure that many others feel this way also.  I have hope that just maybe this can be a wake up call for other big businesses.

So bravo Mr. Schultz- while I still want to support local coffee shops, I will no longer hesitate to step into one of your stores.  In fact I will celebrate it.  I’ll just make sure to order an Americano instead of regular coffee- I am still a coffee snob after all.


6 Reasons I Love Mindy Kaling

A few posts ago when I wrote about my love for Romantic Comedies, I mentioned how much I enjoy Mindy Kaling.  There are so many incredible women comedians today, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two that I admire greatly, but Mindy is my current favorite.  There is something about Mindy and her style of humor that resonates with me.  Maybe it’s because we are close to the same age and are both single women; maybe it’s the ways she is an unabashed romantic.

I’ll admit that I got on the Mindy bandwagon only recently.  I haven’t watched The Office in quite a few years, but I found her character on the show to be highly irritating.  It was not until many years after I stopped watching that I heard she was one of the writers on the show and began to wonder about who she was (side note/rant: how come I knew that B.J. Novak wrote for the show as well as starred in it- people talked about that, why not talk about the woman doing the same thing?  Women in comedy get no respect.).  This fall, I was intrigued by the premise for her new show The Mindy Project, and I am now an avid fan.  Then a few months ago, I discovered her hilarious and honest book; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  

Mindy Book

I am now convinced that this woman is a comedic genius, but more than that, I completely respect her as a woman.  Here are six reasons why I have fallen in love with Mindy.

1.  She is a strong woman who is not afraid to share her flaws, and she writes the same type of woman in a realistic and relatable way.

A few days ago, because I really am this big of a geek, I watched a Hulu video of the panel for The Mindy Project at the Paley Festival.  If I did not already love Mindy, I did after watching this.  She talked abut how she wrote Mindy Lahiri to be a doctor, one because her mother had been an OB/GYN, and two because she wanted her to be a strong character.  However, Mindy L.  is also terribly flawed; a real hot mess in every sense.  Even strong women do not always have it all together, and Mindy is showing that that’s OK.


2.  She is living her dream, and worked hard to get here.

In her book, Mindy talks about how after college, she and her friend were not getting the work they wanted, so they made it happen for themselves.  Mindy and her best friend wrote a short play called Matt and Ben about what they thought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were like, and what they might do and talk about.  It was small, but it got noticed, and it led to her landing a writing gig for The Office.  Now, she is writing, starring in, and creatively directing her own show.  She gets to share her own creative vision with the world.  She wears a lot of hats, and in the Paley Fest panel she talked about how it can be hard to do every aspect well, but she has pulled together a team that can pick up the slack and she is adjusting to being the boss.  She said she never sleeps, but when you are living your dream, you don’t want to sleep.  An audience member asked her for advice on how to get where Mindy is now, and she half jokingly said that in college she never partied and she didn’t date.  She was focused, and now at 33, she has everything she ever wanted.


3.  She takes the fact that she is a role model and breaking new ground as an Indian American woman comedic lead seriously, but she does not let it overwhelm her.

During Paley Fest, one of the audience questions was about how she uses her background as an East Asian woman in her work.  She talked about how it is an influence because it is a part of her and she cannot ignore that it is, but she is not going to let it define the show.  She is just going to be real and let it happen organically.  She related a quote about ethnicity saying that she is neither going to rely on it or deny it; I think she is doing a great job finding a balance.  But she did address how hard it can be to always think about how what she does reflects on her community, and that it’s frustrating to be a pioneer sometimes.  She made a great point when she said that no one ever asks what Steve Carrel is trying to say about white men in his portrayal of Michael Scott, but people do ask that about her.  Mindy is refreshingly honest in the way that she discusses being a role model, and has what I think to be a very healthy attitude about it.

4.  She has some curves, but refuses to feel bad about them and dresses to flaunt them.

At Paley Fest, Mindy joked about how she is living her dream by being the star of her own show and chubby.  Her shape is something she has tackled in her show, but she doesn’t really make it an issue.  Mindy is a real woman, and I think she is beautiful.  I love how Mindy Lahiri dresses in the show, she is always tasteful, but she wears clothes that show her curves.  She’s not scared of a form fitting pencil skirt or dress, and she looks amazing.


5.  She is refreshingly real in the way she discusses relationships.

Relationships can be awkward, and Mindy portrays that in her show.  She uses her personal experiences to make Mindy L. seem relatable.  Mindy is very candid about the fact that she has not dated a lot in her own life because she has been so focused on her work, so her lack of experience can lead to lots of questions about how relationships work.  One of my favorite parts of her book was when she discussed how she has never had a one night stand and thinks the idea is terrifying, as one, it requires vulnerability with a stranger, and two, you might be murdered because you went home with a stranger.  I loved that she turned this idea into an episode of her show.  It was a hilarious episode titled Hooking Up is Hard.  In the episode, Mindy decides she wants to try to have a casual “hooking up” relationship, but she has no idea how to go about it; hilarity ensues.  I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have someone on TV or in a movie not know how to have a one night stand.  After all the years of Sex In The City, you would think everyone is constantly hooking up and that it is no big deal.  Well, in the world I live in, for my friends and I, this is something rather foreign to us, and I love that Mindy showed that not everyone lives like this, and it can be awkward.

6.  She is an unabashedly huge romantic and loves romantic comedies.

Mindy created a show about a young woman who loves romantic comedies and wants her life to be like one- what is not to like about that?  In her show she has referenced many of my personal favorite movies, and it makes the show that much more relatable and funny.  I’ve talked before about how it can be rather embarrassing to admit how much one loves romantic comedies these days- but Mindy makes me feel better about it.  She writes about romantic comedies, “I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world. Then I just lap it up.”  This is how I feel about her show- I’ll never live in her world, but I can relate, and I love every minute of it.

Bonus Reason- She handpicked Chris Messina to be her love interest in The Mindy Project.

A woman who is able to choose her own male lead and goes for Chris Messina?  This is a woman I could clearly be great friends with.  I’m not going to lie, half the reason I decided to try her show was because I saw he was going to be in it (this was before I discovered her genius).  Mindy has talked about how she begged him to take the lead, and I love her for it every week when I see this beautiful face on my TV:


In all seriousness, it makes me happy to know that we have strong, funny, real women like Mindy Kaling who are currently in the spotlight and are able to be positive role models for our young women.  Keep doing what you are doing Mindy- we need more women like you!

3/25/13 Update- I just discovered this Interview/Article about Mindy from the September 17 Issue of New York Magazine.  It touches on many of the points that I have brought up in this post, but expresses them much more eloquently!  Check it out if you are as intrigued by Ms. Kaling as I am:  The New New Girl: Mindy Kaling Promotes Herself Out of The Office and into The Mindy Project

Living in a Fantasy….

Over the summer I read a hilarious book by Caitlin Moran titled How To Be a Woman.  I don’t know if I have ever laughed so hard with a book- it was one of the most candidly real tackling of the things we have to deal with as a woman I had ever read.  The chapter where she discusses current waxing trends just about had me rolling on the floor.  Seriously, it’s a great read and I highly recommend it, but be ye warned -it is not for the faint of heart.  She is incredibly blunt and at times pretty crass, but if that does not bother you- go find this book.  I promise you won’t regret it.  OK- disclaimer done, moving on.

HowToBeWoman pb cThe part of the book that I connected with the most however had to do with Moran’s recounting of a relationship she once lived that existed only in her head.  When talking about how active and alive her imagination was as a teenager she writes, “My love life was busy, exciting, and totally imaginary.”  She then goes on to discuss one particularly vivid fantasy.

“My first serious relationship was conducted with a famous comedian of the time and took place wholly in my head.  I’d never met him, spoken to him, or even been in the same room as him- and yet, during one train ride from Wolverhampton to London Euston, I had one of the most intense relationship experiences of my life: all daydreamed.”

Sadly, I completely understand this experience.  For as long as I can rememeber I have loved stories; it started with books and later included movies and TV.  Growing up I was a complete bookworm and would devour volumes as quickly as possible.  While I was reading I would simultaneously imagine myself into the story, and while my imaginings did not always go down the path of romance, this was the case more often than not.

I have lived as a fifth March sister between Jo and Beth who was the lucky one to win Laurie in the end rather than stupid old Amy.  I’ve been a part of the Old West and both Regency and Victorian England.  I’m pretty sure that my first real crush was Gilbert Blythe.  My active imagination actually became a sort of test of how well written and plotted a novel was; if I could not imagine a better story with myself added into it or improve upon the original outcome by recreating separate events, I knew it was a good book.  As much as I longed for Mr. Darcy to fall in love with me just once, I simply could not imagine it into being- it was so clear that he and Elizabeth were meant to be together.

I won’t lie to you and and say that I don’t still create imaginary relationships and stories in my head today, but I like to think I’m at least a bit more realistic about it.  It’s rather embarrassing to admit, but I don’t think I’m alone in this pursuit.  What woman hasn’t spent at least a moment dreaming of what life would feel like on the arm of George Clooney?  However, I do wonder how healthy all of this fantasizing really is.  In fantasy, everything is pretty much perfect, but this is not the world we live in.  Real relationships take work and are not going to go completely smoothly.  Most partners we meet are not going to be near as dashingly hansom as either George Clooney or Colin Firth.

But I’m OK with that.  What reality has that fantasy doesn’t it that it is real.  In the movie You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan has a fantastic line where she says that so many things remind her of something that she once read in a book, but shouldn’t it be the other way around?  As much fun as I’ve had living my imaginary lives and loves, I don’t reminisce fondly over them the same way I do my actual memories.  I know that my friends and family and the times that we have shared together is my real story, and it can’t be improved upon or written any better.  The fantasy is fun, and does serve it’s purpose, but in the end it’s abandoned because it’s never as much fun as the real thing.

In How To Be a Woman, Ms. Moran continues recounting more of her “relationship” with the comedian, and then humorously recalls when she actually met him years later and was overcome with feeling all the emotions of their imagined time together.  But she ends it with a statement that I scarily can relate to.  “On the days where I have to rationalize this insanity to myself, I postulate that these intense crushes are necessary evolutionary byproducts of being a woman.  As our fertility window is so short- allowing maybe a handful of serious, reproductively potential relationships before menopause- these serious fantasies are by way of “test runs”, allowing women to run through entire possible relationships in their heads, to see if they’d ultimately work out or not.  Like a computer running through algorithms.”  Test runs aren’t such a bad thing after all, I just hope some of them can be real some day soon.