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Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul [Hardcover]

Howard Schultz , Joanne Gordon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
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Book Description

13 April 2011
In 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became 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 his return and 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.

Offering readers a snapshot of a moment in history that left no company unscathed, the book zooms in to show, in riveting detail, how one company struggled and recreated itself in the midst of it all. The fastpaced narrative is driven by day-to-day tension as conflicts arise and lets readers into Schultz's psyche as he comes to terms with his limitations and evolving leadership style. Onward is 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. Ultimately, he gives readers what he strives to deliver every day--a sense of hope that, no matter how tough times get, the future can be just as or more successful than the past, whatever one defines success to be.’

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Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul + Pour Your Heart into it: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time + Grinding It Out: The Making Of McDonald's
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (13 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470977647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470977644
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘…a compelling story…gripping stuff. ’ (Management Today, May 2011). ‘…the story of how [Howard] stabilised the company and brought it back to its core values.’  (Bookbag.co.uk, May 2011). ‘…a tale of derring–do, traversing the globe and crowded with a cast of exceptional people… the book is testament to [Howard’s] drive and dedication.’  (Financial Times, May 2011). ‘ The book is useful for anyone interested in leadership, management, and building a consumer brand.’ (The Market, May 2011). ‘…an insight into the challenges faced by anyone keen to build a socially conscious business that is also highly profitable.’ (Director.co.uk, June 2011).

From the Back Cover

On February 26, 2008, customers at 7,100 Starbucks stores in the US were asked to leave. For the next three hours every barista in every Starbucks was retrained in the art of making the perfect espresso. The act was unprecedented, but proof of just how dire things were becoming at a company that could once do no wrong. For more than three decades, Starbucks had a storied history of being a great place to work, of ethically sourcing and roasting the highest–quality coffee beans, and of crafting beverages for millions of customers who went to Starbucks for coffee and for a sense of community. But by 2008, after years of focusing on rapid expansion, the traits that made Starbucks successful were in jeopardy. Sales started to slide at a distressing rate. The stock price was falling. The company′s very survival was at risk. To address the emerging problems, former chief executive officer Howard Schultz, who had stepped aside almost eight years earlier to become chairman after growing Starbucks from 11 stores to thousands, did something no one expected: He returned as CEO to oversee day–to–day operations. His goal was not just to stabilize the company, but to transform it by refocusing on core values and reigniting the innovation required to thrive in a dramatically shifting marketplace, all while fending off harsh critics and huge competitors. Schultz came back with passion and a plan, and in the course of two years–even in the face of painful revelations about internal troubles and a worsening economy–Starbucks astonishingly returned to sustainable, profitable growth. Onward is the remarkable story of that transformation. Schultz offers readers an extraordinarily intimate look at his daily decision–making process, from closed–door planning sessions in Seattle, to conversations with coffee farmers in Rwanda, to investor presentations in New York during the worst of the economic turmoil. Onward is more than just a business book. Personally inspiring and unexpectedly candid, it brings a dramatic story to life with the emotional power and narrative suspense of a novel. "Through the lens of his personal leadership journey, with all of its dizzying ups and agonizing downs, Howard Schultz has written, with aching honesty and passion, the single most important book on leadership and change for our time and for every generation of leaders. This book is not just recommended reading, it′s required." Warren Bennis , Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and author of the recently published Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership "Howard Schultz′s refreshingly candid, compelling narrative demonstrates what it takes to lead in these extraordinary times. Onward is a rare firsthand account of how one of the world′s most iconic brands overcame the challenges that confront us all." Indra Nooyi , Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo "The second toughest thing in business is building a successful enterprise–the toughest is to engineer a turnaround and still maintain the core culture and values of the organization. This is a classic example of how it can be done. Howard has proven it′s not enough to be smart or well intentioned–sustained success will not occur without true passion from the very top!" Jim Sinegal , cofounder and CEO of Costco Starred Review: "[This] sequel to the founding of Starbucks is grittier, more gripping, and dramatic, and [Schultz′s] voice is winning and authentic. This is a must–read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer." Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really excellent book 2 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I started reading the Kindle Version of this book with rather low explanations, after all the world can probably manage unite well without another how I did it book from an American Chain!

But from page 1 there is such a high degree of honesty in this book.

How Howard Schultz had a clear vision and then fought to see that vision shine through.

A lot of practical management ideas and theories are considered, there are some wonderful sections which I have had to highlight and keep coming back to.

In summary, an awesome book, well written, excellent management theories and inspiration.

However, having just visited my local Starbuck, they still have a long way to go.

But what we learn form the book is they know that.

Recommended - no make that, Highly Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Schultz on Starbucks. 10 May 2011
This is Howard Schultz's second book about Starbucks, where he is chairman, president, and CEO.
The book covers the period from 2008, when Starbucks was in crisis, its sales slumping and stock tumbling. Schultz tells us how through re-focusing on core values and continuing innovation the company was brought back to sustainable growth and profit.
Schultz joined the company in 1982, when Starbucks only had four stores, in the 29 years since, Starbucks has grown to be global brand with 17,000 stores in 50 countries.
Clearly Schultz is a driven individual, committed to his business, and open to new ideas. The company's shift to Fair Trade coffee is admirable, as are it's charitable donations. I would have like to have read what Schultz has to say about criticisms aimed at Starbucks, but that's not something tackled by this book.
The book is useful for anyone interested in leadership, management, and building a consumer brand.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting read 17 Sep 2011
I was doing a report on Starbucks for my master's degree so I purchased this book. Compared to the other books on Starbucks I enjoyed this one the most. Schultz has unique opinions and it was very interesting to see how his policies and ideas for Starbucks changed over the years. It also opened my eyes up to the way their channel management works, and how they work to maintain high-quality coffee. It's a good read for anyone interested in Starbucks or business in general.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Propoganda 6 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To be honest not sure what I expected from a book written by a man closely associated with a public company about which he is writing but still - in my humble opinion book lacks sincerity and on every turn author tries to glorify the company instead of telling it like it is.

As a contrast to this story I liked much more Sam Walton's take on Walmart which felt more sincere.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 5 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
fabulous book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 12 Jun 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A few weeks ago I was introduced to a fantastic book by a good friend. In his book ‘Onward’, Howard Schultz gave his account of how he steered Starbucks through a challenging era of the company which also coincided with the global recession brought about by the credit crunch.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Marketing diatribe 9 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
On the whole this is a disappointing book.

Written like a marketing diatribe, it is insipid, doesn't inspire, lacks heart, and is boring. I also didn't learn very much about coffee or business - other than "passion" is somehow important to Starbucks. Even the parts of the book that were meant to be inspiring, such as when part of the mission statement is read out by various adoring managers and "partners" at a convention had me putting my fingers down the back of my throat. I found myself far more interested in those family vacations to Hawaii, which always seemed to coincide with those taken by other CEOs such as Michael Dell - they say birds of a feather flock together, but I can't imagine anything worse than taking a holiday where all you seem to do is talk shop with other Alpha Males, go for 30 mile bike rides, and fiddle with your Blackberry.

All in all this book on Howard Schultz's attempt to reclaim Starbucks, and guide it towards a glorious future, left me as cold as a cup of brewed coffee. And here's why. The Starbucks described in this book is the polar opposite of the one I know from my own experience. For example, I had to stop visiting my local Starbucks because they kept getting it wrong. On nearly every visit I either got the wrong size, the wrong drink, or someone else took my drink order by mistake. The place was a shambles. I gave up and went to Costa or Cafe Nero instead. It's a shame because I generally like the shop design and you can get a half-decent Americano there.

Against my better judgement I recently revisited Starbucks when a new Drive Thru was opened on the route of my commute. I guess my mindset was "how bad can it be?". The answer: pretty bad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars masterfully written
Gripping, entertaining and suspenseful. There's so much in this book to learn from. Couldn't put it down - Packed full of wisdom! Enjoy :-)
Published 1 month ago by Taimur
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Books
Great book great read recommend this to anyone looking for an insight into starbucks and Howard Schultzs strategy around Starbucks
Published 11 months ago by jw
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a really good insight into the thinking of a CEO and his company's vision . An excellent read it highlights how so many companies so easily go off track and lose their... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Martyn G Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book. So easy to download on my kindle. If you haven't got one yet where have you been living under a rock? Read more
Published on 8 Aug 2012 by wizzer64
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read. A good balance between man and business.
This book is a really enjoyable read. I am not someone who loves to read a lot, but I could not stop reading this book. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2012 by N. Massey
5.0 out of 5 stars Onward
Fantastic book. Easy to read and not really in the style of a serious business book. A very compelling story from start to finish. Read more
Published on 30 July 2012 by P. Smart
5.0 out of 5 stars How to manage major change and succeed!
This book is probably the best book on managing major change and leadership I have read and should be required reading for every management course. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting even for tea drinkers!
fantastic book ,great clarity on how to change a way of working without losing the soul of the company.told with disarming honesty.
Published on 10 May 2012 by A Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Great read, Howard is a fantastic business man. If you like Starbucks you will love this book! Really interesting read.
Published on 6 May 2012 by Wendy
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