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The 11 Best Lines From Forbes' Profile of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

A closer look at the billionaire do-gooder

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Starbucks head honcho Howard Schultz is about as close to a household name as most CEOs will ever get. He's made a name for himself as an outspoken leader who, for better or for worse, puts his money where his mouth is in regards to social issues he feels passionate about. In a new story from Forbes, writer George Anders gets up close and personal with the billionaire businessman to find out what makes him tick. Below, the best lines from Anders' 3,000 word-plus profile of Schultz:

Schultz on visiting Starbucks' very first store, which opened in Seattle in 1971 and hasn't been updated since: "I go there at 4:15 a.m. sometimes, just by myself. It’s the right place whenever I need centering."

Anders on the dichotomy of Howard Schultz: "By delivering what he calls 'performance through the lens of humanity,' Schultz has amassed a fortune of nearly $3 billion. Yet in any sustained conversation, he keeps going back to when he was a nobody."

Schultz on his own "rags-to-riches" background: "I’m still this kid from Brooklyn who wanted to fight his way out. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. I didn’t go to business school."

Anders on how Schultz is like — and unlike — Donald Trump: "On paper, this self-made tycoon compares favorably to a certain bombastic billionaire spring boarded with Daddy’s money. But Schultz wasn’t at all interested in the campaign, in part because, while the 2016 presidential contenders debase themselves during this circus-like primary, Schultz already has a bully pulpit from which to steer discourse ..."

Anders on Starbucks' well-meaning but ill-fated "Race Together" campaign: "What unfolded was a national embarrassment. Hectic morning-coffee lines, full of strangers, proved far chillier than a staff meeting with time for hugs. Baristas felt hurled into an edgy new role without any training. Patrons found the gesture bewildering."

Anders on Schultz's other do-gooder initiatives, such as free college tuition for employees: "Watching Schultz’s crusades in the wake of the race debacle is akin to seeing a sword-swallower at a carnival. Each project generates its own rush of excitement. Each is tinged by a thrilling, terrifying sense that it could all go horribly wrong in an instant."

Schultz speaking at an employee gathering: "We’re not just here to raise the stock price. What can we do to use our strength for social good?"

Anders quoting Starbucks' CFO Scott Maw on what customers are really paying for: "When you’re selling lattes instead of locomotives or loans, Maw observes, a $3.45 grande isn’t just a beverage; it’s a ticket into 'a pleasant experience and an ethically sound way of doing things.' Schultz’s crusades have become part of the product, morphing Starbucks into one of the biggest social businesses on the planet."

Anders on how Schultz serves as a role model for other CEOs: "Periodically, Schultz gets calls from younger executives who want to know how they, too, can advocate for social causes without running the risk of getting fired. ... Schultz’s blunt advice: 'You have to earn the right.' Spend years winning investors’ trust by delivering strong results. Once you’ve done that, your degrees of freedom increase greatly."

Anders on how last winter's red cup controversy was actually good for business: "A few evangelists got upset. Television stations rushed to cover the 'story,' and the amped-up attention helped Starbucks ring up record sales."

Anders on Schultz's biggest regrets: "In the mid-1980s, he recalls, he made his first business trip to Guatemala, checking up on bean suppliers. Growers whispered that only a small fraction of the money Schultz’s company was paying was ending up in growers’ pockets ... Schultz felt he was too new and puny to do anything about it; that inaction rankles him to this day."

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