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Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Howard Schultz , Joanne Gordon , Stephen Bowlby
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 29 2011
In 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company to become chairman. Concerned that Starbucks had lost its way, Schultz was determined to help it return to its core values and restore not only its financial health, but also its soul. In Onward, he shares the remarkable story of the company’s ongoing transformation under his leadership revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity.

A compelling, candid narrative documenting the maturing of a brand as well as a businessman, Onward represents Schultz’s central leadership philosophy: It’s not just about winning, but the right way to win.

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“Personal, suspenseful, and surprisingly open. . . . A must for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer.”
      —Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“An engaging account.”

“For anyone looking for insights . . . Onward is essential reading. . . . Schultz comes across in these pages as a genuinely, even disarmingly, nice guy . . . you find yourself cheering him on.”

“Business and audio collections alike will relish this!”
       —The Midwest Book Review

“Stephen Bowlby’s blunt, hard-driving narration is well matched to Schultz’s direct account. Bowlby portrays Schultz’s passion for the soul of Starbucks: unwavering commitment to the customer’s coffee experience. He excels at voicing Schultz’s confidence and occasional insensitivity to subordinates. This work should be inspirational for managers who seek to anchor daily decisions with guiding principles.”

About the Author

STEPHEN BOWLBY earned his BA in Speech & Theater at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, a short trip from his native North Jersey. His career quickly moved from commercial radio into television and film production as a writer, editor, and director with voice work ever present. With more than 35 years’ experience he’s expanded into audiobook performance, studying with such industry greats as Pat Fraley, Scott Brick, and Stefan Rudnicki.

JOANNE GORDON is a former Forbes writer and contributing editor who has spent more than a decade profiling companies and business leaders for numerous publications and in five previous books.

HOWARD SCHULTZ is the chairman, president, and CEO of Starbucks and the author of the New York Times bestseller Pour Your Heart Into It.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
"Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people." -- Isaiah 55:4 (NKJV)

Company founders often have a unique vision of what they are trying to accomplish that's based in a set of values that are deserving of respect. Unless such a vision is experienced, appreciated, and consistently pursued, most organizations lose their way as the power of the vision wanes . . . to be replaced by merely accomplishing various goals that are unconnected to the vision. In the case of Starbucks, Howard Schultz had a life-changing experience in an Italian espresso bar that led to his vision for the company. After Schultz was no longer CEO (called ceo at Starbucks), the vision lost focus and faded in favor of meeting various expansion goals.

When what is now being called "The Great Recession" hit, Starbucks reeled as customers started spending a lot less for the first time. Such a downward spiral is hard to overcome, and Howard Schultz learned that the hard way as he returned to the ceo job.

Onward is the story of how Starbucks revitalized and created a better way to deliver Schultz's vision.

If you have only a casual interest in Starbucks, this story will be too long and detailed for you.

If you are a company leader who is looking to turn around the fortunes of an ailing retail concept, you'll find all of the detail helpful in avoiding pitfalls. Having worked with a number of companies seeking to make such improvements, I was struck that the perspectives and experiences of Mr. Schultz rang very true.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In January 2008, chairman Howard Schultz resumed his roles as President and CEO of Starbucks eight years after he relinquished them, replacing Jim Donald, who took the posts in 2005 but was asked to step down. Schultz's immediate objective was to restore what he called the "distinctive Starbucks experience" after years of rapid expansion that had compromised it. The bulk of this book's material covers the period since then, although Schultz (in collaboration with Joanne Gordon) does include valuable perspectives on the events that preceded his joining Starbucks as director of retail operations in 1982 and his subsequent purchase of the company from its three co-founders in 1987.

Others have their own reasons for praising this book, Here two of mine. First, Schultz is a skillful raconteur and the dramatic narrative that he provides is compelling as he introduces various characters, develops a lively plot filled with crises as well as triumphs, and meanwhile examines several themes that invest the narrative with structure and direction. For example, how to accelerate but manage growth so that the company (however large it may become) retains its entrepreneurial spirit? As Starbucks expanded into new locations, states, and even countries, how to preserve the ambiance of an Italian café (i.e. coffeehouse) while take full advantage of modern technologies? This book is a great read because Schultz has a multitude of fascinating stories to share.

My other reason is that the book anchors in real-world situations, involving real people, a number of business principles that are relevant to all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be.

For example:

1. Don't 'fall in love' with loyal, devoted workers who longer measure up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good Feb. 24 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Great insights into the ins and ours of Starbucks and its evolution. It would benefit the readers greatly, however, to see what contributions were made by more people on the ground. We can see Starbucks has a very deep bench, and the authors have shown the spirit and tenacity of the many people who have help Howard effect the transformation, but more general experiences too would help. Otherwise, anyone willing will learn many lessons from the ride Howard and his team of partners have taken. Thank you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent leadership book Dec 14 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I haven't recently read a book that has a better leadership story than this book. Howard Schultz to identifies issues and address them in unconventional ways. Excellent read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By gord
This book is a great reminder that without core beliefs a business can get off track. It also clearly makes the point that courage and hard work are required to steer the ship in the chosen direction. Howard Shultz has given those of us leading businesses a well documented and inspirational case study which can apply to any business and which can be used by any leader to support his own case.
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