Monthly Archives: July 2015 Learning from Starbucks on Job Creation

Starbucks JobsNever accuse Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz of being afraid to take on tough issues.

His latest effort is aimed at the issue of youth unemployment, which is stuck at 12 percent for people 16 to 24 years of age. This age category includes many young people who dropped out of school and have never been regularly employed. In many cases, they do not have the skills or training required for today’s jobs, even with four million current jobs going unfilled. None of this fazed Schultz, as he organized Opportunity 100,000 to create 100,000 jobs for unemployed youth.

This time, however, he isn’t taking on such a complex issue alone. In his recent announcement, Schultz said he had commitments from 16 companies that include some of America’s largest employers: Wal-Mart, Target, Microsoft, Macy’s, CVS Health and Hilton.

Schultz is hearkening back to the days of his youth growing up in Brooklyn’s Bayview housing projects. There he witnessed many people, including his father, who were left out of the American dream. Determined to change this, Schultz put together funds to acquire the original Starbucks from its founders in 1987.

He created Starbucks “to build a company my father would be proud to work at,” adding, “My inspiration comes from seeing my father broken from the 30 terrible blue-collar jobs he had over his life, where an uneducated person just did not have a shot.” Later Schultz provided health-care coverage for all Starbuck’s employees, including part-timers. “I wanted to build the kind of company my father never had a chance to work for, where you would be valued and respected, no matter where you came from, the color of your skin, or your level of education, and a company that linked shareholder value to the cultural values we create with our people.” Today, Schultz has built a thriving enterprise that employs 191,000 people in 22,000 stores, as Starbucks has created $83 billion in value for its investors, including employees who get “bean stock.”

Schultz’s vision goes far beyond providing first-level jobs to youth. He is equally committed to helping them develop the skills needed to take on higher level, better paying positions. To this end, he has teamed with Arizona State University to establish online training programs for his employees. He and his wife are contributing $30 million toward local job training and mentorship programs. Next month Schultz is kicking off Opportunity 100,000 with a jobs fair in Chicago.

While Schultz’s initiative will impact only a fraction of the 5.6 million young people who are neither working nor studying, it is a worthy effort to attack one of America’s most persistent problems. The larger issue is the capacity of the American economy to generate sufficient jobs that pay Americans a living wage, not just the current minimum wage.

America needs to embark on a massive revamping of our training and education systems to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. Such a program should start in high school and offer students a choice of a college track or a vocational track, much like the German system. This includes apprenticeship programs, such as those created by North Carolina’s Central Piedmont Community College, which has over 20,000 students, with the support of the Germany’s Siemens. If we can train people for skilled jobs in computer graphics and programming, skilled trades like electricians and carpenters, or running complex machines, companies can and should pay them much more for their efforts. In doing so, they can fill many of the four million vacant jobs companies report having.

That’s the only viable way to attack the pervasive income inequality challenges we face. The goal must be to make the pie larger, rather than legislating what share everyone gets of a fixed pie. In turn, America will become more competitive in global markets, and all our citizens will be able to realize the American dream, just as Howard Schultz has done.

This article was originally posted 07/22/15 on

Staying True to Who You Are, and Learning From the Mistakes Of Others

Discovering your True North begins with being honest with yourself. That’s why I so strongly encourage you to review your life story and to reflect on where you excel and where you need to develop.

In addition to introspection, examining where others have faltered may also help your growth. It is possible for leaders to focus so much on the heights they intend to reach that they lose sight of their principles. Often, leaders become overconfident, like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. Here are some archetypes of leaders who fail to remain authentic. Consider as you read: do you see in yourself an inclination toward any of these tendencies?

Those who fall from the sky

Imposters misrepresent themselves to attain power. These people rise through cunning and politics, often without regard for anyone who stands in their way. They pretend to be more capable than they are.

Have you ever hidden vulnerability or avoided your true self in order to advance your career?

Rationalizers trick themselves into believing they are more successful than they really are. Rationalizers blame others for their failures. They often bend the truth, fabricating figures, facts and feelings to make themselves feel better about their performance.

Have you ever told yourself that everything was okay to make yourself feel more secure, despite evidence to the contrary?

Glory seekers want recognition, titles and acknowledgement. They are focused on the extrinsic benefits of power, like wealth and fame.

Have you ever lost sight of your True North because you were focused on receiving recognition for an accomplishment?

Loners shun help and rise to leadership without forming healthy relationships along the way. These leaders believe it is best to brave their journey alone.

Have you ever taken on a task and found yourself thinking that rejecting help and focusing on your own ideas was the most efficient route forward?

Shooting stars quickly dart across the sky toward the next objective – the next promotion, the next goal – and never settle down to appreciate the scenery below.

Have you ever reached a career goal and realized you did not spend enough time with your family, friends or colleagues along the way because you were so focused on your destination?

Perhaps you recognize some of these traits in yourself. They come in the form of unhelpful voices, promising that “success” is the only goal. Silencing these voices will keep you from losing your way, as you grow into an authentic leader. These kinds of leaders (imposters, rationalizers, glory seekers, loners, and shooting stars) fail to inspire, they miss valuable collaboration, and they focus not on the significance of leadership, but the endgame of power.

A common thread among failed leaders

A profile of Victor Lustig, who is infamous for selling the Eiffel Tower to a gullible buyer, describes the con artist as extremely confident. He approached his targets with a long, important-sounding title and professional stationery. Though he had all the outward trappings of a scrupulous, successful person, it was all a façade. The decorum of prestige was a carefully curated aspect of his scam. Ask yourself: is a con artist terribly different from a false leader who chooses the quickest path to success? When times get tough, does an overconfident leader with a grandiose plan unite people under a common banner? Or does hubris predict a dramatic decline?

Lonely at the top

While the con artist works alone for obvious reasons, many failed leaders seek isolation on purpose. The imposter is wary of being found out; the rationalizer, similarly, builds a ruse; the glory seeker wants his or her name alone on the marquee; the loner believes in a solitary path; and the shooting star never cultivates meaningful relationships. Failed leaders often nurture isolation far beyond the reasonable bounds of privacy and confidentiality.

John Cacioppo, Ph.D., points out that it is in our nature to be social, to be a part of a larger cause. He cites research that shows collaboration triggers the “reward” areas of our brain in the same way food satisfies our hunger. Leaders who avoid advice and feedback in their pursuit of success take on unnecessary stress or become depressed as they deprive their bodies of the nourishing connection they need.

The way forward is together

In Discover Your True North, you will learn why some leaders struggle to develop beneficial relationships and how the successful cope with the loneliness that accompanies leadership. You will see why the pursuit of True North is a road best marched with company. For now, we can agree, some leaders who fail suffer a similar fate to Icarus, who wanted nothing more than to fly high enough to touch the sun.

Learn more about this topic in Chapter 2: Losing Your Way

Huffington Post: The Phoniness Of Donald Trump

The Phoniness of Donald TrumpDonald Trump wants to become president. He’s running a campaign based on vanity and ego, not authentic leadership, with some prejudice tossed in. You will have to look far and wide to find a public figure who is less authentic than Trump. Last Saturday he reached a new low when he attacked Senator John McCain’s war record, saying, “He’s not a war hero because he was captured.” While McCain was held captive in the “Hanoi Hilton,” Trump avoided the war through deferments.

Trump is the perfect illustration of why “you can’t fake it to make it” to become a leader. Running for the nation’s highest office without ever holding an elected position, he is trying to act like a leader without developing himself as an authentic human being. People immediately sense who is authentic and who is not, and Trump doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Nevertheless, according to Fox News, Trump leads the Republican primary polls. This may say more about dissatisfaction of the electorate than Trump’s qualifications to be president. Without question, a Trump presidency would severely damage our nation. “The Donald” has driven organizations into bankruptcy, made racist slurs, and denied climate change. As a result, a dozen companies recently severed ties with him.

As a wannabe leader, Trump tries to comb over more than his hair. In the past, he has advocated government health care, an assault weapons ban, and 14.25 percent flat tax on all wealthy Americans. Now he opposes all three. Does he stand for anything, other than promoting Donald Trump?

In 2012 Trump told Newsmax the GOP wouldn’t win election if it was perceived as “mean-spirited to Latinos.” Contrast that with his recent presidential announcement, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.” With that, he stirs up racial prejudice and divides our country.

Trump’s phoniness stands in sharp contrast to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. This past Monday, Schultz announced that Starbucks, in partnership with 16 other companies, will hire 100,000 minority youth workers by 2018. In addition, Schultz is putting his money where his mouth is. He and his wife Sheri donated $30 million from their family foundation to fund local job training. Through these initiatives, Schultz is hearkening back to the challenges of his youth by making a commitment to help young people get started. As Schultz said “It’s very personal for me, having grown up in public housing and understanding what it was like to be that poor kid.”

At Harvard Business School, we have spent the past 10 years in helping develop authentic leaders among MBAs and executive participants. As I describe in my forthcoming book, Discover Your True North, the mark of an authentic leader is being a servant leader who focuses on others. To become authentic leaders, all of us have to make the transition from “I to We” — recognizing that leadership is not about us, but empowering the people we serve.

Howard Schultz made that transition, which Trump never did. At Starbucks, he’s focused on improving the lives of employees, becoming the first retail chain to offer health care to all employees, including part-timers. Over the past five years, Starbucks has committed to hiring 10,000 veterans, providing in-job training, and paying for employees’ online college education through Arizona State University. Schultz has also been an advocate for same sex marriage, gun control, and improved federal health care. In the absence of federal government action, he believes the business community must take the lead in addressing the jobs crisis.

Schultz isn’t perfect, but he acknowledges his mistakes and moves on. For example, his “Race Together” campaign this past spring received an avalanche of criticism. In this case he moved too far, too fast to address a highly charged subject, but does anyone doubt that we need to have honest discussions about racial issues?

On the other hand, Trump has only moved from “I” to “I am running for president.” Where Schultz has focused Starbucks on serving others, Trump has focused his companies on promoting himself. Over the past 30 years, Trump developed multiple products with his name: Trump Towers, Trump Vodka, and my favorite, Donald Trump The Fragrance. In his television show, “The Apprentice,” Trump’s favorite phrase was “You’re Fired,” spoken with all the compassion of a cruel despot.

In the past, Trump’s self-serving style of leadership was all-too-common. In that era many leaders focused on extrinsic metrics of success: money, power, and fame. Today’s authentic leaders recognize that to be effective leaders they must serve others. They know that empowering others to lead, rather than exerting power over them, is the only way their organizations can be successful.

Donald Trump’s rise in the polls legitimizes a broken style of leadership. For young leaders, Trump provides the wrong type of model – a self-focused egomaniac. For authentic leaders, Trump insults the humble service they give to their organizations. For the rest of us, Trump represents a well-crafted persona who cannot be trusted.

As our increasingly diverse nation honors the enormous contributions of newly immigrated Americans, it is a sad commentary that Trump’s racist statements about Mexicans have taken him to the top of the Republican polls.

Does something smell rotten this in presidential election? It must be Donald Trump The Fragrance.

This article was originally posted 7/20/15 on the Huffington Post as part of a series on True North Leadership.