Power Players

How Howard Schultz conquered self-doubt to build Starbucks into a $100 billion company

American coffee giant Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz smiles at his coffee shop in Tokyo June 26, 2002. Schultz said the Starbucks would expand rapidly in Japan, targeting 1,000 stores in six year during an interview by AFP.

Despite having a net worth of more than $4 billion and being the driving force behind Starbucks for more than three decades, Howard Schultz says he's just an average Joe, like you.

"I don't have an MBA. I did not go to an Ivy League school," Schultz tells Masterclass.com in 13-part series teaching business leadership. "I'm just a regular person just like you who had a dream to try and build a great, enduring company."

Today, Starbucks has a market cap over $100 billion.

Schultz, who grew up poor and lived in public housing in Brooklyn, New York, bought the Seattle coffee franchise in 1987 for $3.8 million after finding investors (including Bill Gates' dad) to help him out. He grew the company from 11 stores to more than 3,500 locations in over 75 countries.

Schultz, 66, who now serves as the Starbuck's chairman emeritus after retiring as executive chairman in June of 2018, says the only difference between him and most people is that he fought off self-doubt and jumped in headfirst.

He says it's okay to have self-doubt about your ability to succeed, raise money or even attract the right people at times. But under no circumstance can you ever have any self-doubt about "your commitment and conviction to do what you set out to do," which for him was building Starbucks into an international brand.

Schultz goes on to say that there will be no "magical" moment, time or formula that will help you start your venture, you just have to do it "with great discipline and thoughtfulness."

"There is no single textbook, there is no mentor, there is no primary tool to get you to jump in that pool other than your own courage and conviction of the idea and this moment in time for you and your family," he tells Masterclass.com.

Schultz credits his success with Starbucks to his fierce determination and unwavering persistence.

"I willed it to happen," Schultz writes in his memoir, "Pour Your Heart Into It." "I took my life in my hands, learned from anyone I could, grabbed what opportunity I could, and molded my success step by step."

Schultz does knowledge that entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but he still encourages people to live life to the fullest and not have any regrets.

"You've got to find your position in life. But if [entrepreneurship] is in your blood — and only you know if it is — then jump into the pool."

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Inspirational quotes from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Inspirational quotes from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz