Politico Magazine: Derek Robertson- ‘How Howard Schultz Created a Personality Cult at Starbucks’

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Source:Politico Magazine– Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Source:The Daily Review 

I’m not interested in Howard Schultz’s so-called potential independent presidential run at least for this piece, but more interested in what he created not just with Starbucks, but the broader pop culture in America. Starbucks, really since the late 1990s or so is not just just a coffee house, but it’s a fashion statement and status update. Americans, especially yuppies and hipsters not just like Starbucks coffee, but feel the need to be seen liking that coffee and feel the need to have everyone know that they like that coffee and go to if not Starbucks on a regular basis, perhaps some other popular coffee house in their community.

Starbucks cups are not just coffee cups, but their fashion statements. Hipsters and yuppies feel the need to not just walk down the street holding their Starbucks cup or another coffee house cup, even if their cup is empty, but feel the need to be seen either on their phone or looking at their phone, even if they’re not actually speaking to anyone or don’t have any latest texts or voice mails that they haven’t seen or listen to yet, while holding their coffee house cup at the same time.

Coffee house coffee whether it’s Starbucks or any other coffee, is to America and American pop culture, what tobacco was in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s before Americans figured out how addicting and how bad tobacco was for you. Except coffee house coffee and coffee you get at your local bakery or on the street, is a helluva lot better for you than tobacco and alcohol even. So you have a lot of hipsters and yuppies in America who know it’s not only cool to drink and be seen with coffee house coffee, but it’s not nearly as bad for you as tobacco or alcohol.

Starbucks, is not just a coffee house, but like with new technology especially smart phones they’re ways of living. It’s a way of life for them and way for people to be popular. “Look at Joe and Mary, they not only have the latest smartphone that just came out an hour ago, but they’re in touch with the latest celebrity news stories and scandals, addicted to reality TV, and are addicted to Starbucks coffee and coffee houses as much as we are. Even know every single Starbucks drink by heart. They must be as awesome as we are.” Which is how Starbucks customers, hipsters, and yuppies want to be seen. And Howard Schultz, is a big reason for this coffee house culture that we’ve been living with in America for the last 20 years or so. Whether he deserves credit or blame for that, I’ll let be the judge.

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Source:60 Minutes: Scott Pelley- Howard Schultz: When He Was Starbuck’s Star– Howard Schultz, before he was a narcissistic wannabe politician
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The Daily Review: The Week in Review: 2015 Holiday Season

Port Ludlow

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review: The Week in Review: 2015 Holiday Season

My 2015 holiday season other than not seeing the sun at all until really my last day in Port Ludlow, Washington which is about an hour or so outside of Seattle in Kitsap County just off of Bainbridge Island, was by in large positive. I don’t see my family other than my parents that much to begin with. My family for the most part is now in California, while I’m in Maryland just outside of Washington. So we’re three-thousand miles apart physically, as well as miles apart personally as far as being very different people. I’m talking about my two brothers really. Who both are now married with their own families. So I don’t go out-of-my-way to stay in touch with them.

I haven’t seen my brothers and sister in-laws, their wives for three years before we saw each other last week. My choice really. I’m fine with my older brother who generally speaking is a great guy with a great and really cute and friendly wife, my older sister in-law. And they have three great kids. My nephew and two of my nieces. But he rarely speaks unless spoken to. He’s pretty aloof, at least in my experience with him. How his wife communicates with him I may never know. Perhaps they just talk about what’s for dinner and whose picking up the kids, some weather we’re having and that sort of thing. But I had a great time with them and the two days I had with them last week. Especially my nephew Nicholas, who reminds me of me as far as his interest in sports and history.

My little brother, is sort of the opposite of Alex, but we don’t get along very well. He’s got an opinion about everything and we’re almost complete opposites when it comes to personality. He can be bit a judgemental prick and that might be an off day for him. As a Liberal, I’m a live and let live person. My attitude on life is basically, “its your life pal, as long as you’re not hurting someone.” And I could care less how someone eats their spaghetti and how they comb their hair. Plus, he can be very stupid, but in an insulting way. Ask really dumb questions as if they’re legitimate, or state the obvious as if he’s being informative. Our father, is very similar, but Kit is much worst and at least Dad won’t be really sensitive when I call him out on his insulting stupidity. Kit, will act like he’s completely not at fault. He and his wife, are perfect for San Francisco and that yuppie snobby universe.

But, it’s not as if I don’t love my family, including my in-laws. It’s just that I don’t feel the need to see and talk to them on a regular basis. But it was three-years and my little brother and his wife, just had their first baby in late 2014, so I was thinking this would be a good opportunity to meet my new niece. And catch up with my other nieces and nephew, as well as my brothers and sister in-laws. Even if it meant spending a week in the Seattle area, where you have a better chance of drowning in a flood, than ever seeing the sun while you are there. Which is why I went out there to hang out with them and see if I could get along with my little brother and little sister in-law. Perhaps hear my baby niece’s first words and try to have a good time.

Another reason why I don’t go to Seattle where my parents have a second home in Port Ludlow, is because it’s basically like flying to Alaska from the East Coast. You literally spend the whole first day traveling, or waiting for your plane, ferry, or ride. I tend to leave early in the morning East Coast time and finally get to the house late at night ECT. So that tends to wear me out. But the first three days that I had with my parents, little bother, sister in-law and brand new niece, were fairly positive. We saw Goodfellas together as a family. A movie the whole family likes. One of my parents friends from that area joined us for Christmas and she’s great and we had a good time with her. We managed to not get on each others nerves. Which is a hell of an accomplishment for the Schneider Family when we’re all together. I took a couple of hikes in between rain storms up there.

The next two days were with my older brother Alex and his wife my older sister in-law Sandra. Had dinner with them their first night in town. Played basketball, hung out with them at their second home in Port Townsend. Threw the football with my nephew Nicholas and talked NFL history. Think about that for a minute. I’m talking about NFL history and the history of the San Francisco 49ers, with a nine-year old boy. Hanging out with him was not like hanging out with a kid. We played basketball together. he knocked down a couple of three-pointers, we played pool together, threw the football around and talked football history. This is a nine-year old boy, who lives in the San Francisco area, that might know more about the Washington Redskins than a lot of Redskins fans. Hanging out with Nick, was like hanging out with myself, or grown man. He’s just a lot more advanced than a lot of kids his age. This coming from his uncle, but its true.

Coming back from Seattle, is really a blog in itself. Seattle, a little more than half the size of the Washington, DC area, is a fairly large community with a lot of tourist attractions, but they only have one big city airport, which is SeaTac. Which might be the worst big city airport in America. The Washington area in contrast, has three great major airports. So getting through SeaTac, plus dealing with TSA, is not fun. And by the time I get to my gate to go to Minneapolis, my stop before Washington, I find out my flight has not only been delayed, but by two-hours. So no I know my trip home has been screwed and what do I do once I get to Minneapolis. Delta, whatever you think of them, are very customer friendly and don’t like losing customers. They put me up for one night at the Raddison in Bloomington, Minnesota. Which is near their airport.

By in large, this was a very positive trip. Still not crazy about going to Seattle especially during their rainy season, which is only twelve months a year and every time I go out there the weather is Washington tends to be warm and beautiful, which makes the experience even worst getting local weather reports back home. But I will make bigger effort in the future to see my brothers and their beautiful families more often and would like to go to San Francisco to visit them. Where they all live now and perhaps avoid Seattle instead.