The People Business

I was listening to an interview with the founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, and I was fascinated by something he said.


“Coffee is what we sell as a product, but it’s not the business we’re in. We’re in the people business.”


Imagine saying, “We’re not in the maintenance business, we are in the people business.” Or, “We’re not in the software business, we are in the people business.” This is not a common way to approach our work.


Everything we do, everything we make, involves people. Dave Ramsey once made a comment that has stuck with me on this same topic, “Business would be simple if people weren’t involved.” How true it is!


Guess what, people are involved and everything we do has a human connection. The good news is when you are surrounded by people with the same passion and commitment, anything is possible.


In the interview I heard, Howard goes on to talk about leadership and the five significant lessons he’s learned over the years:

  • Inspiring leaders should not be as passionate about the product their companies make as they are about how the products or services improve the lives of their employees and customers.

  • Inspiring leaders never grow tired of sharing stories that shaped their character and show who they really are.

  • Inspiring leaders treat employees benevolently.

  • Inspiring leaders obsess over every aspect of the customer experience.

  • Inspiring leaders remind themselves and their employees of what business they’re really in.

Yes, we all work with products or services and that is what we do. But you need to push your thinking beyond that. Yes, we are in the X business, but we are really in the people business. Thinking like this will take your organization to greater heights than you thought possible.


Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.



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