Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Howard Schultz - I'll Buy The First Cup

A little over two years ago I approached Starbucks with an idea. It was an idea that if executed correctly could enhance the customer experience, build even stronger community and yes even help build their bottom line. It was a little idea I admit but with a real spark of potential. So I did what you are supposed to do when you have a spark...I tried to coax a fire to start.

I tried and tried to get the attention of Howard Schultz but with no luck. I received a not so nice response from their Director of Marketing who somehow failed to realize that I was a Starbucks fan and more importantly a customer first and an entrepreneur second. I was not deterred and just kept trying. Finally in the fall of of 2006 progress - a response from Jim Donald the CEO of Starbucks himself (or his assistant - hard to tell). It was a response requesting that I send some information to him and he promised to review it.

I excitedly kitted up my presentation and sent it on to Mr. Donald and waited. And waited. And waited some more. I followed up. No response. I followed up again. No response. Getting desperate, I cut a creative Podcast to both Howard Schultz and Jim Donald and sent little cds up to their offices. Finally a response - from the woman I had been in contact before. She was even less enthusiastic and more direct this time around. Buzz off (no caffeine implied humor here) little Ripple Man - buzz off!

Discouraged and smarting from the frustrating circus of trying to persuade my hero Howard Schultz to allow me to buy him a cup of coffee and discuss an idea, I did what I tell my clients never to do (shhh don't tell them okay), I gave up. I put the ginormous file I had created away and haven't looked at it since.

Sure my Ripple friends that knew about the idea still peppered me with articles about Starbucks this and Starbucks that. I still got lots and lots of people telling me how badly Starbucks needed my Ripple idea. I myself go to countless Starbucks locations along my journey and grow even more discouraged at the level of disconnectiveness (my word - my spelling) their store employees are from the mission Howard Schultz onces so proudly proclaimed.

Yesterday a number of stories broke about Starbucks actually trimming back their expansion plans and even laying off 12,000 workers and closing up to 600 stores. Jim Donald left the company this past January and Howard Schultz assumed the reins of CEO yet again. The emails started flying yesterday - "Steve they need you." "Steve, maybe now's the time to hit them again." "Steve they need the idea now more than ever!" You gotta love people who support you. I know I sure do!

I admit I thought about pulling out the file last night and taking a stroll down memory lane. All the hours of research and the brainstorming sessions that went into a simple little idea that I believe still could make a huge impact on so many levels. But am I glutten for another round of punishment? That's the real question. This morning as I sip my dark roast I contemplate whether it would be worth another go at the behemouth task of getting Mr. Schultz's attention.

So Mr. Schultz in the off chance you are listening, the offer still stands.....I'll buy the first cup.


Anonymous said...

you go, boy! I knew you wouldn't/couldn't give up so easily!

love ya!


Anonymous said...

Your concept of connecting and leveraging Starbucks is an idea they should and need to explore. Our local Starbucks drive people from their stores rather than encourage people to stay and connect. Maybe Howard will finally listen to the Ripple Man!

You Go!


Steve Harper said...

Thanks Kathy - though I am still on the fence. He has my number though....I hope.

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper said...

Thanks Rick!!!

I couldn't agree more.

Ripple On!!!

Karen Sopko said...

Someone has certainly gotten a memo saying "fix this problem or else" the trick is to find out who is standing in a very lonely pair of shoes holding that memo. My guess would be the Ad agency picked for the new campaign - check the marketing news and go find those shoes.

Sue said...

Deep down you know you haven't given up, but set it aside until you feel you have a better foothold. If you had given up completely, this blog post wouldn't have been a flicker of thought and the file would be gone, gone, gone.

I'm surprised that you didn't link directly to Starbucks in your entry, too, because that might have drawn attention to your idea some more. You linked to the articles and wikipedia, though. And did you try My Starbucks Idea?

Sue said...

By the way, I hope you don't mind I added this entry to Stumble Upon and Digg. *shrugs* Something tells me you're still interested in sharing this, and, well, I started a small ripple for ya.

Steve Harper said...


Great suggestions and no I don't mind you submitting the post to Stumble Upon and Digg. You sooo rock.

You are right....there was a reason I started thinking about the idea again. It was great then and even more relevant now!

Ripple On My Friend!

Steve Harper said...


My friend! Where oh where have you been? I have missed you and Stephen a great deal.

Thanks for the comment. I agree I need to find that person. Any suggestions?

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper said...


Smart suggestion too. I completely forgot to link which I just now fixed.


Find professional movers said...

just go on with it,man....