Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

On March I was in Seattle to cover the 2014 Sheraton General Manager Global Brand Summit. An assignment from AmericaEconomia I gladly welcomed. I learned there that Sheraton holds alliances with Starbucks among other companies. So the organizers had Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, as a keynote speaker. I attended his session. The way I perceived it, Schultz’s word separate from other motivational speeches meant for business people.

These are some fragments.


…Let’s imagine there are two Starbucks stores, each across the street. One is owned and operated by Starbucks and the other one is an independent franchise -we don’t have that but let’s assumed- owned by somebody else. The one owned and operated by Starbucks, the management is not doing well. But once you get 20.000 stores, what’s the big deal if it doesn’t go that well that day. The problem is that it is a bog deal because that is what has been doing for quite a while.

For quite a while it has allowed mediocrity to create a level of behavior that has replaced greatness and excellence.

So, when you are kind of tired and the line is long and you see somebody walking out the door because the line is too long and the service isn’t great, what is it that you do? Most probably, you think is not that bigger deal. Starbucks served 70 million people just last week.
But let’s look at the store across the street which is owned and operated by one person. His family, his school, his livelihood is directly related not to 20 thousand stores but one store. Do you know what he does when somebody leaves the line? He runs from behind that counter and he tackles that guy. He gives him a coupon and he ensures that there’s a level of intimacy and concern and sensibility –direct emotional concern that says I apologize, please give us another chance.

The difference between the store owned and operated by Starbucks and the one that is operated by this person, it is very simple: that is what it means to take it personally, what it means not to be a bystander and the understanding that we are not in the business of 20 thousand stores or 70 million customers or 500 properties; we are in the business of one thing, one intimate moment: that is the fragile relationship between the customer, the Starbucks’ person with green apron and an extraordinary cup of coffee. When that breaks down, we have to do everything humanly possible to elevate the experience.

In front of 11 thousand people, what I have to say is: this is a time in our company when we cannot embrace mediocrity, we cannot embrace the status quo. We must push for reinvention. We must understand the value of one customer, one cup of coffee and one human experience. Whether or not you have been at the company for one month or one year, or ten years or twenty, this is the best time in the history of Starbucks to be with the company. Why?

Because we are in the position to control our own destiny. We are in the position to build a great enduring company. But our subsistence and what we have been doing for the last 20 years is not going to cut it, it has to be earned every single day by people who understand what passion is all about, what greatness is, the difference between mediocrity and excellence. And I also say something that is a little bit politically incorrect, but something I believe in: business is a team sport, but not everyone deserves to be on the team. Especially when you are working with small teams and one person can create a carcinogenic behavior.

As leaders, if we allow that behavior to take place, then we are wrong.


…We are in the people business. Not all companies are as dependent as we are on human behavior, and leadership, and management of small teams. We also have the responsibility to ask a question and answer it in the affirmative: what’s in it for our people?

People today are working for not very high choices. The burden that it puts us all is to demonstrate truth, transparency…

There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace right now about technology, and rightfully so. Starbucks has invested tens of millions of dollars in all kinds of consumer-facing engines. That puts us in the forefront of the customer experience. Social, digital, mobile… as result of that we are winning in the market.

Let me say something about that, which I think it’s important: there is shift in America in terms of consumer mediator. The Amazon effect, all e-commerce, it all means that more and more people are spending more time on their desktops and on their mobile device than physically walking the streets as pedestrians in America. Less time shopping, moving around, more time at home. That considerably affects our businesses. This week we saw two companies, Staples and Radioshack, having to significantly cut down operations. What technology can’t replace, and kind of the death of distance because of the web, is the ability to look at someone’s face, that deep sense of humanity. When you walked into one of your hotels, or into one Starbucks stores, and you find people generally interested on who you are, as a human being not because you have money on your wallet, they will have an effect on you. It will enhance your day. We are longing as people for a deeper sense of humanity, we are longing for human connection.

The Starbucks brand has not been one to rely heavily on marketing. People asks us how much money we spend on marketing and we answer that we are not a marketing company. The equity of the brand has been created out of elevating the human experience. Our people have created in our stores an experience that brings the people back.

When we did that right, we created separation in the marketplace.


We also have to understand that what we have done up to today, as good as it is, as successful as it is, it’s not going to be good enough for the future. It’s not because of technology, it’s because we have to constantly push ourselves to reinvention.


A few years back I had the chance to meet this extraordinary and very wise that happened to be this very religious rabbi. I’m Jewish, but I’m not a religious person. But I met this rabbi and it happened that we were together with a meeting group of businessmen.

The rabbi said: “tell me the meaning of Holocaust”… Of course, nobody wanted to make mistakes so everybody kind of look away. Then he asked again: “tell me the meaning of Holocaust”…

The rabbi told us a story -and this is not a story about Jews but about Humanity- “during the Holocaust as we all know, men and women were transported in the worst possible conditions, during the winter months, in journeys that took 12, 24 hours, sometimes 3 days. When they finally reached destination, men were separated from women, women then were separated from the children. As they walked into the camps, the death camps, only one person in six was given a blanket. What is that person going to do?”

He said: “Not everyone, but most people, shared their blankets. So, that’s the meaning, what you learn is that you have to share your blanket”.

I use that as metaphor for what I believe we need to do as businessmen: it’s not enough to make money, it’s not the only reason we are here. The reason we are here is to improve the lives of the people in the communities you serve. Sharing our blankets.

We live in a country today where we all can probably say that there are things that aren’t going quite right. Whether you are a republican or a democrat, it’s something in the air that doesn’t smell alright. I’ve spoken out a great deal for the 15 months ago with people in Washington and I’m concerned.

I realize more than ever that we have a stake in this. We have to make a difference. We can’t wait for Washington.

What I say to you, as you’ll go back to your respective area, please understand the relationship that we are building with our people, with the communities we serve and the difference we can make. Understand the power of love. Understand that this is a team game. Understand that success is not an entitlement, it’s something we have to earn everyday.

Language is important. Language has a meaning. It’s not enough to say the word greatness or excellence. It corresponds to a behavior that has to be modeled, a behavior that has to be celebrated.


For the last 10 years, we have been fighting a war in Irak and Afghanistan. Two and a half million people have served. If I ask you, how many people in this room have been affected by the war? Probably it’s about 10%. Over a million people are coming home. They need our help. This can’t be Vietnam. They have to be celebrated.

And they have extraordinary skills and are extraordinary people. Hire them. Support them. It’s not enough to go to the airport and shake their hands while saying thank you. We have to help them.

I confess, I fell for Seattle. It would be the perfect place to start over if the threat of a big earthquake didn’t hang over the city’s neck.

Anyway, Seattle has many great things to offer: the Needle, access to Murano glass blowing classes, mountains, ocean, lakes and a border with Canada… The Pike Place market is for sure among my favorite places.

seattle pics (1)

(c) jennroig, Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington State, March 2014

(c) jennroig, March 2014

Diane LaVonne, March 2014

This may have a lot to do with the fact that I got introduced to Pike Place Market by Cheff Diane LaVonne. She’s the proud owner and founder of Diane’s Market Kitchen, where I had the chance to taste a delicious salmon with vegetables for lunch.

Diane argues that in addition to cooking and creating recipes upon request, she has the mission of teaching people and raising awareness about how to cook in a better, healthier way that it’s also easy and quick.

Check the salmon skin

Diane showing the salmon skin and explaining differences between a farm and a wild fish

Diane knows how to compel her audience because her arguments are meant to the senses, not the rational part of the brain. Her dishes are nutritive and healthy, but they are also colorful and tasty, bringing a heavenly aroma. She makes a point I will remember forever: “if the food tastes well when it’s raw, it will taste good when cooked”. We were talking about salmon and vegetables such as carrots and beets, I’m not sure she would say the same about red meat or chicken.

I would risk saying that few people in Seattle would know the Pike Place Market as good as Diane. In fact, by the way she describes the operation of the market, the kiosks, her favorite products, and walks around with the familiarity of someone that it’s a long time member of the community, you can feel her passion, involvement and commitment.

pike diane

Where you should go to get your spices in Seattle

She took us first to the most amazing spices store. Different kinds of curry, tea, cayenne, cardamom, sugar, cinnamon, saffron, paprika, chili, and every other spice will be for sale there. The special thing is they will tag the origin of the spice, they will make sure it is naturally grown and all of this for a price that you wouldn’t dream to get at any supermarket.

The thing is the Pike Place Market receives public funding that helps to subsidize small businesses owners such as farmers, bakers, traders or producers of other handicrafts.

Chukar Cherries at Pike Market

Chukar Cherries at Pike Market

Diane showed us her place-to-go for the best chocolates. Chukar Cherries offers a very special recipe that manage to keep the nuts crunchy inside the chocolate even though it had to be melted by force. Diane says she rather thinks it’s magic. The owners once asked Diane to create a recipe for her shop, which she did after having researched the business and being sure about the nature of the woman owner.

Uli’s Famous sausages were also part of the tour. Uli’s story is peculiar. He went to Germany to get trained on how to professionally cook sausages. He returned to Seattle to open his shop where he offers a range of different sausages claimed to taste exactly as the original ones. According tourists and travelers, the way Uli cooks a Chorizo Picante, a Hot Italian, a Merguez or any other is dead on.

Diane walked us to other of her usual suppliers’ kiosks. A place where I tasted black garlic for the first time, and learned about cheese making and why the paving stones are engraved with thousands of names -a memory of a time where Seattle citizens bought the chance to have their names on those stones as a way to donate to the market.

The Pike Place Market is unmissable.

For those who still haven’t heard, Jacksonville is a city in North Florida. I was there for a couple of days, invited for a job interview, and timing was great because One Spark Festival was taking over the city.

One Spark at Jacksonville, April 2014

One Spark at Jacksonville, April 2014

So One Festival is an initiative originated in Jacksonville, a city that is determined to recover the glory of past days, when Miami hadn’t yet become a big deal. To sum it up, it gathers visionary creators. Whether their ideas may belong to the realm of arts, technology, business, it doesn’t matter. If innovative, they are all a fit for the Festival. Then, next to a business entrepreneur trying to sell his new skateboarding prototype, you go and hear out the team that wants to have your vote to restore a building and start using it as cultural center or community theater.

jacksonville one spark (4)Ideas could range from dreaming with building a wellness center in the middle of downtown to sell politicians a technological platform/tool that kind of resembles tools used by business analysts but with the twist that it would allow room to express and consider what minorities’ minorities think. As if politicians would care for anything other than votes… jacksonville one spark (3)

Moreover, next to still another app for sharing pictures you would find an app like MamaBear, that aims to become a parenting tool available for parents around the globe. You could find some crazy project about reinvigorating the denim industry or an app to prevent getting lost in a crowd.

It is the second time that One Spark takes over the streets of Downtown Jacksonville. Locals argue that the overall quality of the project increased. The founders of the Festival declared their plans to take a One Spark to the streets of Berlin, Germany. I would be curious to see how Germans transform the original idea and create their own version of the festival.

In fact, what it actually impressed me the most was to find out that every speaker was so well prepared when pitching their ideas. One would think public speaking is a granted skill shared among every other guy and gal in USA. I also think it’s a great idea to have a platform where entrepreneurs and creators of all kinds can have access to voice their projects and convince regular folks to contribute with funding. Of course, that’s nothing new -crowdfunding is all about it. But it was cute to see senior citizens listening to young college students about apps and social media platforms, while having to sort out how to cast a vote or donate through their phones or digital devices. Cash contributions were allowed, by the way.

(c)jennroig, April 2014

(c)jennroig, April 2014

The Festival is about to finish while I write this post. Creators, investors, visitor will know who the winners are. For the lucky ones, the challenge will just begin.

Collection of racist slurs

Posted: April 9, 2014 by jennroig in Chronicles, English
Tags: , , ,

I won’t disclose the source, but my ears are right now BLEEDING from having to listen to every possible racial stereotype and beyond.

The following is a list of traits that would characterize some minorities living in Florida. Probably a reason why everybody else think so awfully about Florida, it’s because there are people here thinking and saying stuff like these.

This is a sample -just as evidence that racism is still alive and kicking:

- We all pay taxes for black women who have many children and their husbands are in prison.

- While Latino immigrants work for their families, Afro Americans are sitting down, waiting for the government to pay entitlements to them.

- All Jews are clever, they all rip money from themselves and the rest of Humanity, and every Jew in America has started his/(her?) own business by age 16 and the Jewish community supports them.

- The USA government has the missing Malaysian flight in its power, and it’s keeping it for some conspiracy plot against the Chinese.

- All Cubans are smart -That’s a new one! I guess the guy is saying it because his audience is actually old Cuban ladies.

- In every Chinese family, there’s a member of the family that owns a Mercedes-Benz.

- England is the mother of all brilliant brains.

- People from Puerto Rico are all rude, dirty, uneducated… As a country, Puerto Rico has no good roots, the island was populated by buccaneers, pirates…

And I wonder, how does this kind of highly offensive worldview get to spread around?

Winter is coming… sure, for anyone living anywhere out Florida…

thrones-castAnyway, the other day someone asked me what I felt most passionate about -one of those scripted questions hiring managers tend to ask you- and I felt more annoyed than usual. I don’t have a straight answer for that, sometimes I feel passion for so many things, sometimes I’m as dry as a freaking desert. Still, I should have remember that particular thing I always feel passionate about, which is Game of Thrones… New I would really want to see the reaction of whoever gets that answer in the middle of a “serious” conversation: “-What do you feel most passionate about? -Me? Oh, that would be Game of Thrones, the HBO series by the way, not the book”…

That being said, let’s go through why I do believe this series is the greatest television show running these days.

1. It has a wide segment of global audience totally hooked: whatever the announced numbers, it’s bigger. After piracy and online screenings the actual audience is huge, massive, monumental. This is remarkable: the series is a fantasy-epic story, it has dragons, demons and ice zombies, and still it manages to attract people like me, who don’t enjoy stories about dragons, demons and specially any kind of zombies.  The books are maybe nerd territory, but the audience of the show is eclectic, cosmopolitan, global and it gathers representative of many generations.

game-of-thrones-season-42. It’s TV, though it is breaking every pattern of what TV should do to succeed. Traditionally, audiences sit in front of their TVs to feel comfortable, to get some sense of certainty, the range of comfortable emotions that allows to feel sad or scared, knowing that at the end love will prevail and the bad guy will be punished and the right values will find a way to triumph, the safe thrill. Life is uncertain enough, some would argue. So far, cinema was the usual provider of surprising emotions, the enabler of unexpected endings which kind of resembled the not so perfect, in fact messed up and even meaningless, life. And not all movies, not Hollywood for sure, but that kind of arty cinema, that kind of cinema d’autore. However, Games of Thrones killed Sean Bean/Lord Ned Stark of Winterfell in the first season, who was cut out to be the perfect TV character. He was the caring husband, but not so perfect he didn’t slipped and brought a bastard home; a great father, but a father with doubts about what was best for his children; an awesome warrior, but also an executioner; a guy that was willing to stand up for honesty, friendship and justice. He was the perfect main character of the first season. But such character lost his head, literally. After that no one was safe. With Lord Stark’s head was rolling everything that we understand a TV show not only should, but must deliver to us.

Before GOT, maybe Sopranos was able to shake audiences and push the limits. But not even those guys dare to kill Tony Soprano in the first season.

BOOM-1024x564I’m not even going to refer to the production standards, the great budget, the visual quality of the series that even surpasses the excellent quality of other HBO series. dany

3. It takes smart and open minded people to get the plot, the content, and the between the lines ideas of GOT. By the way, I’m not implying that just smart people are watching the series or that a bunch of clever folks aren’t interested at all. But those who are actually able to look beyond the sexual and the gore content, who can understand a bigger picture, they can see the impressive collection of human personalities and traits, emotions, ambitions. They can get how a human being can be powerful and weak, how someone can be despicable at some point and then redeem him or herself, how pain and suffering can make you a better person or turn a person into a monster. These people are the ones who understand that there are no rules in the game because it is as random as life itself, which by no means it is to say that mistakes won’t be paid, that the slightest neglect or deviance will take a toll.

Game of Thrones bring references to history and current affairs. It offers an window to different kind of families, groups, associations, alliances, political systems. It speaks of leadership styles, management styles, warfare styles.

There’s no way a conversation between two fans of GOT won’t be interesting. So, the series is actually a great conversation starter.

gameofthrones14. Emotions. I’m a skeptic most of the times. I tend to come across with certain cynicism, especially when it comes to personal issues. That means I try my best to run away from emotional situations. Well, GOT have given me the kind of extreme emotions that I don’t get in life -The Red Wedding comes to mind- and I still up for more, eager for this fourth season to start.

But there are other, very dark emotions that the script manage to make us feel. Let’s say, forgiving Jamie Lannister after we saw him throwing Bran Stark off the window and knowing he’s really in love with his sister. Or rooting for a painful death that may come to Joffrey, who’s basically a spoiled teenager.

Daenerys_S35. One word: Daenerys. As a woman, it is very hard not to admire the character’s progression and storyline of Daenerys Targaryen. She has evolved from object of desire to subject of decisions. There is no other character which such a low start that has gone so far. She was a sister-slave under the rule of an abusive, creepy and incestuous brother. And she was all of that while others were calling her princess. In reality, she was taking more abuse probably than her the female slaves who were serving her, because those girls weren’t supposed to expect anymore from life. She was sold to a foreign savage that raped her, she had to obey him without even understanding his commands. But she learned his language, she mastered her first tool that is her own body. She knew love and survived it. She lost a world and was able to rise again with even greater ambitions. She’s sly and she’s strong, she’s generous but she gets traitors must get no mercy. She’s patient but doesn’t shake when the time comes to burn a city down. And she’s the one who said: dracarys

6. The need to set things straight. That’s sort of a reason to keep watching every new season. That very human need to make it even. There’s no way to stop watching and miss the moment when Joffrey finally will get what’s coming. Or those Bolton and Frey. The need to find out whether Daenerys will actually manage to reach Westeros or whether Arya will reunite with some member of her family ever again.

So, April 6… those who need to catch up, check the honest trailer here.

47 Things Only Introverts Understand

Posted: April 1, 2014 by jennroig in Miscellaneous


I felt so identified with all these traits, that can´t help sharing it…

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:


1. Not understanding the concept of boredom because you are so content with your own company.

2. “Get in and get out” is your mantra.

3. Immature hatred towards people who interrupt you when you’re speaking.

4. Feeling like your ears are being raped by loud talkers – which is most people speaking most of the time.

5. Weekends filled with social obligations feeling like work.

6. The awkwardness of having to make conversation with an old acquaintance who’s name escapes you.

7. Being exhausted by days with zero alone time.

8. Aggravation when big plans change.

9. Feelings of irrational contempt for your phone when it rings during your downtime.

10. Sussing people out before opening up.

11. Feeling guilty for requesting a premature home time from your partner at a social event.

12. Sending out telepathic death-rays to pushy sales assistants who try to involve themselves in your…

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Update 3:

There were casualties, after all. At least six were reported during the night. The tsunami of almost 2 meters wasn’t nearly as big or damaging as the wave that caused all the damage in 2010.

The Atlantic provided a very complete report including an animation.


Update 2:

There may have been casualties after all. Emol reports that the Mayor of Alto Hospicio about two fatalities after earthquake.


Update 1:

It’s Chile, it’s Latin America, it’s the land where “Magic Realism” was born. The news breaks just now about 300 female inmates had escaped from prison in Iquique, during the earthquake or in the aftermath. So there’s now a manhunt to report. Crazy night for journalists.


According RT, there’s no casualty to regret after the tsunami hit Chilean coasts. According the Chilean Emol, where information is released way more carefully and not as definitive, it is said that there’s no death to mourn so far.

The earthquake on February 2010 was so horrific and the memory is still so alive that Chilean authorities announced a total evacuation from any place near the coast line throughout Chile. Kilometers and kilometers of sea shore. The effects of the 2010 tsunami were so painful, and the action to prevent such damage were so poor, so disconnected, that this time everything seems to have worked out just like a clock.

Meanwhile, the Internet is already noticing the fact that Bachelet was at the final stage of her presidency when the earthquake in 2010. She recently was elected again…