Today, I finished Howard Schultz’s Onward, which chronicles the couple of years after he returned as the CEO of Starbucks.

I enjoyed the book, and I was very interested to hear about the challenges the company faced, but I am beginning to fear my cynicism muscle is overdeveloped. I think Schultz was completely sincere,1 and not just feigning his passion for his company, but there was just so much passion.

I really do think it is me though. It may be the nearly 23 years I’ve spend in uniform, or being a fighter pilot in a world where the movie Top Gun2 exists, but I have trouble listening to anyone who takes themselves too seriously.3 I may just be allergic to corny.

Nevertheless, the book is well written and has many good business lessons in it. I’m a sucker for turnaround stories,4 and the recovery Starbucks made is truly remarkable. That Schultz succeeded twice as CEO says a lot about his leadership ability, and his passion is likely a big part of the story.

Part of what I will take away from this book is that my cynicism might inhibit my ability to inspire and lead the less jaded of the world. I’ll have to be careful not to destroy enthusiasm with sarcasm.

  1. I’ve heard him interviewed, and there doesn’t seem to be a false bone in his body. ↩︎

  2. The real Navy Fighter Weapons School is really written as TOPGUN. ↩︎

  3. Which makes me wonder how I can read so many business books. ↩︎

  4. Although…now that I think about it, I also rolled my eyes a lot while reading Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance. Maybe I don’t like turnaround stories. Maybe the genre relies on corniness. Are corny people ideal CEOs? ↩︎