Howard Schultz, Chairman President and CEO, of Starbucks Speech at the 102nd NRF Conference – 2013

It all started with a cup of coffee.

Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks Coffee Company, first walked into Starbucks in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1981. Howard was drawn into conversation with these connoisseurs who took great care in not only finding and roasting the highest quality coffee, but also sharing their passion with others. Drawn to Seattle and its extraordinary coffee culture, Howard moved from his native New York and joined Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing when Starbucks had four stores.

In 1983, Howard traveled to Italy and was captivated by Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience. He had a vision to bring the Italian coffeehouse tradition back to Seattle, creating a third place between work and home. In order to pursue this dream, Howard left Starbucks to start his own coffee company called Il Giornale and returned in August 1987 to purchase Starbucks with the help of local investors. Howard went on to create two landmark programs for Starbucks partners (employees): comprehensive health coverage for part-time partners and equity in the company in the form of stock options.

From that foundation, Starbucks has grown to more than 16,000 stores in neighborhoods around the world. What remains the same from that first cup of coffee: a connection, a conversation, and a sense of community.

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