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Want to know how Starbucks became a model of success? Listen in as the former president of Starbucks, Howard Behar, shares his secrets for stealing the show.

Howard Behar is a renowned business leader, author, speaker, and mentor. He retired, after 21 years, from Starbucks Coffee, where he led domestic business as the president of North America. He was also the founding president of Starbucks International.

Howard is the co-author of two books on leadership: It’s Not About The Coffee, and the newly released The Magic Cup.

In this episode we discussed:

  • The importance of being an influential leader. (2:43)
  • Building trust quickly and authentically. (4:35)
  • How to prepare for professional and personal high stake conversations. (8:40)
  • How to decide which stories to use to best illustrate your point. (12:36)
  • How to adapt to role changes in your life and career. (23:56)
  • The difference between working for results vs. working for approval. (30:36)

You can email Howard Behar and find out more about his books and upcoming events.

00:00 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. This is Michael. Today’s guest is Howard Behar, and his career in business spans over 50 years all in consumer-oriented businesses, covering several industries. He retired from Starbucks Coffee after 21 years where he led both the domestic business as president of North America, and was the founding president of Starbucks International. So he is an icon. During his tenure, he participated in the growth of the company from 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents. He served on the board of Starbucks for 12 years before retiring. Howard now serves on several boards, including iD Tech, Education Elements, and the advisory boards of Anthos Capital and Roadtrip Nation. His non-profit commitments are to the University of Washington Foundation, UW Business School mentoring program, and as a trustee for the Sheri and Les Biller family foundation. Howard is committed to the development and education of our future leaders, and has been a long-time advocate of the servant leadership model. He’s also co-authored two books on leadership titled, ‘It’s Not About The Coffee’, and the newly released, ‘The Magic Cup’, which is what we’re gonna talk about today. Hi, Howard.

01:29 Howard Behar: Hi, Michael. How are you?

01:31 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal the Show. I’m so happy to have you here.

01:33 Howard Behar: Thank you for having me.

01:35 Michael Port: Well, I’ve been a big fan of yours. I introduced your first book to my audience, but everybody knows who you are, because you were the president of Starbucks. Now, they may not know your name, but every single person that I know, and I don’t often use absolutes, but I would say every single person that I know has bought a product that you have championed.

01:57 Howard Behar: Isn’t that nice? There’s nothing better than having that happen.

02:01 Michael Port: How does that feel?

02:02 Howard Behar: It feels fantastic that we recreated an industry, and we did something that I think really serves people. And a place to go that you don’t even have to buy anything, you can just go sit.

02:15 Michael Port: It really is. I am a big fan. So thank you for all the work you’ve done there. And thank you for the work you continue to do, because you don’t have to work at this point in your life, yet you are still out there standing in the service of others continuously. It’s beautiful.

02:33 Howard Behar: I’m like you, I wanna change the world. I wanna change how we lead, and so I’m not gonna stop. I’d rather be doing this than anything else I can think of.

02:43 Michael Port: It’s fantastic. Well, ‘The Magic Cup’, your most recent book. I love it. Absolutely, fantastic. And it’s a fable, and I love business books that are fables. It’s much more than a business book, because it is really an expose on how to look at life, in a way I think it’s quite virtuous. You have, in the book, 11 virtues that you think we should live by in order to lead those around us, and, I would add, influence our audience, because as you know Steal the Show is about performance in all aspects of life, not just of course on the stage. Much of your work historically, and much of what you share in this book is about leading others, which is about influencing your audience. So as president of Starbucks, how did knowing your values help you influence your team, and then inspire them to take the actions that were needed to support the growth of the company?

03:42 Howard Behar: Well, I’ve always believed that the most important person you’ll ever have to lead is yourself, and by knowing your own values and what you stand for, and by espousing those things it becomes clear to others who you are, and they begin to know what they can depend on with you, they build trust in you, and it was a key driver, I think, at Starbucks, and certainly had been a key driver in my life. Not only in my career, but in my home life, and my spiritual life, and everything. And I just think that it’s hard to do anything well in life without understanding who you are. And that transferred perfectly over into the business world and particularly at Starbucks, because Starbucks is a values-driven company. And so people at Starbucks needed to know who their leaders were, and how those leaders behaved, and what mattered to them.

04:35 Michael Port: One of the virtues that you share in the book is trust. How do you think we should go about building trust quickly and authentically?

04:49 Howard Behar: I think the first thing is you give trust before you get trust. You automatically have to trust the people that you’re working with, and the people that are around you until they prove that they’re not worthy of the trust, but that doesn’t happen very often. And when you give trust before you get trust, people automatically attach to you, and they wanna be part of their team. They recognize that you care about them, that you trust them, and they wanna perform, because of that fact. And trust, to me, is the core of all relationships. Without it, there are no relationships, really. And just like in a marriage, what makes a marriage go? You know what really makes it go? Is trust. And a way to build trust is great communication, and that’s exactly the same thing that happens in the business world.

05:46 Michael Port: How when you’re first considering somebody for a position or even for a personal role in your life, can you determine whether or not they will keep their commitments? Is there a way early on to discover this, even before you’ve had a long-term relationship of commitment-making and fulfilling?

06:08 Howard Behar: Well, I think that you can learn a lot about people by spending time with them and I never thought we hired anybody at Starbucks, I thought we invited them to join our family, and an invitation is much different than an offer to hire. When you’re extending an invitation you better know something about the people that are coming on board and so you have to spend a lot of time. We used to do lots of interviewing at Starbucks. You never came to Starbucks with one, two or three interviews, it was always five, six or seven. I had, particularly people that were joining my team, one of the things that I would do is I would take them on a store tour with me and we’d go out to the stores and spend time with the store manager and the baristas and I always watched what they did. If there was a piece of paper on the floor, would they bend down and pick it up or not? Who did they talk to first? Did they talk to the baristas first or did they talk to the store manager first? And what kind of questions did they ask?

07:05 Howard Behar: Over time, you get to know people fairly well and that gives you an indicator, but that’s all it really is, it is an indicator, a good indicator. Then that begins to build that trust one pebble at a time and then when they come into the organization, of course, they’re adding pebbles every day, or taking pebbles off that scale, depending on who they are and what’s going on. But it’s building, it’s that relationship that you build before you hire or before you make somebody a friend, it happens over time. The way you do it in business is in an interviewing process and just spending time with them. There’s no shortcut.

07:45 Michael Port: I remember one of the first pieces of dating advice that my mother gave me when I was young. She said, “Michael, when you go on a date with a woman, I want you to pay very close attention to how she talks to the wait staff.” And I did, right from the beginning. My parents taught me to be very perceptive, to pay attention to how people treat each other. Not just how they treat you, but how do they treat others? Are they consistent across the board? So often, we need to have difficult conversations, both personally and professionally and sometimes you’ve got to deliver a difficult message, like Steadfast had to do in the book, or engage in these very high stakes conversations. So what advice do you have on how to prepare for those kind of situations?

08:40 Howard Behar: Well, I always felt that I would prepare by basically acting out the role before I… If I was having a serious conversation with somebody that was really under-performing, then I would do role-playing with myself and I would put myself in both chairs. You’re gonna think I’m strange now, but I actually would move chairs. So if I was Howard asking a question of somebody that reported to me that was having an issue, I would ask the question and I’d go sit in the other chair and I would pretend as if I was that person and what they might say back to me.

09:19 Michael Port: I love that. I don’t think that’s weird at all. That’s exactly what I’d love to see people do, to play those different roles.

09:27 Howard Behar: First of all, it gave you empathy and understanding of what they might be thinking. By doing that, I was prepared for what might come up and was able to deal with the issues. At the end of the day, you can have any conversation with any human being as long as you care and you have love in your heart and that they know that’s how you feel. I’ve been leading teams for over 50 years and in all that 50 years, I’ve only had one person where having love in my heart didn’t work. And the conversation became a real conversation, it was a caring conversation and they knew that I cared about them. If they know that, then you can have any conversation you want. You do it with kindness and gentleness, but with directness, with being open and honest.

10:28 Michael Port: One of the things that people who give speeches often have trouble with, and they don’t always realize it, is they can be a bit preachy when they are sharing the way they see the world. They feel so strongly about it, that they often forget that other people may not yet share the same world view. In the book, you talk about the importance of telling the truth and having an honest conversation with our audience. I would love to know how we can deliver the truth to our audience in a way that they can hear it and respond versus feeling like we are preaching to them.

11:13 Howard Behar: Well, I think the number one way is… When you come right out with something and you yadda, yadda, yadda, and it’s the truth and it becomes your truth is much different than telling a story that removes it from you or them, so to speak. It becomes a story about maybe somebody else or some life and it gets the point across. And then people what I call, ‘draw the four of clubs’ because they begin to identify and they say, “Hey, that’s something like I have been in before, I can relate to.” So stories always work well. When we say tell the truth we don’t mean say everything that comes in through our subconscious. We’re not just feeding back every minuscule thought that might come though our brain at any given time. We’re being direct, but we’re being thoughtful about that. Stories work the best for me, particularly, when I’m giving a speech. It doesn’t do any good to lecture people, because the first thing that happens is they put up their… Automatically whether they realize it or not, they being to put up their defenses.

12:19 Michael Port: So, if you are trying to source stories to use when you wanna influence others, and now, of course, you give a lot of speeches, so I’m sure you’re including a lot of stories in those speeches.

12:36 Howard Behar: Yes.

12:36 Michael Port: How do you decide which stories to use to best illustrate key points that you want your audience to hear?

12:44 Howard Behar: Well, I find the best stories are ones that I have lived. That’s the best, where I have been in it, I have lived it or I have been with people that have lived it, so I have total familiarity with the story and I have tremendous emotion behind it. I think the second best is stories that you hear from others. Maybe a story that I might read in one of your books and I use that story. I work on making it my own by finding examples that I can relate with using your story. Or sometimes a story in a newspaper that I might read. It doesn’t just have to be your own life and your own stories, but it has to be things that you can relate to, or you have knowledge of that get the point across in a way that’s non-threatening but it’s outside the specific thing that you’re trying to deal with.

13:42 Michael Port: When you transitioned to a career as an author and a speaker, you’ve, I imagine, delivered keynotes to large audiences at conferences and corporations. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the difference between influencing an audience from the stage and influencing them during more informal conversations as a leader, say in the board room, or at a table with your staff when you were working on a project.

14:16 Howard Behar: It’s high touch when you’re in a board room or you’re working with the staff on a project. There, it’s a lot of listening, not a lot of talking. If you wanna influence, shut up. And when you’re giving a speech, you’re up there to give a speech and hopefully you’re reflecting the audience back. I never give a speech without having spent time with the audience beforehand. I just gave a talk at Google to the top 200 executives. I went in a day early and I visited with eight or nine people that were leaders in that organizations and I just listened to them. I asked some questions but I let them talk. I learned a lot about the organization. So when I went to give that speech, I’m not a Google employee, but I was talking from these people’s mouths, so to speak and their ideas, and I could reflect that back in my speech. That was to a large group, a fairly large group. In a small group, when I was in a board meeting, you could make your points but primarily you’re there to listen to other people. Influencing comes from listening, not from talking.

15:38 Michael Port: It’s so interesting, because most people haven’t had the kind of experience or career that you’ve had, even when they get to the end of their life. It’s very rare to be in the kind of leadership position that you are in. And even with all of that experience, you still go in a day before to listen to them. Many people would just make this assumption, they say, “Oh, well, Mr. Behar would know exactly what to say because he’s done everything that these folks wanna do, so he can just go in there and talk to them.” I mention this because it’s such a beautiful demonstration of humility in your work, and a real curiosity for what others are going through, because a lot of folks who are professional speakers who have not had the kind of professional experience that you’ve have, may skip that step. They must think, “Well, I know what I’m talking about, I’m an expert in this particular thing, I just go and tell them what to do.” You, even with all of that experience, you still go in and listen, and one of the virtues that you outline in ‘The Magic Cup’ is curiosity.

16:47 Howard Behar: Absolutely.

16:48 Michael Port: So, are you a naturally curious person and…

16:52 Howard Behar: I’m both naturally and unnaturally. So I always am interested in things, but we all kind of shove things away and get a little lazy sometimes, so I’m always pushing myself. Even when I’m tired, if I’m gonna give a speech or I’m gonna be working on something, I wanna know about the people before I get there. I wanna know about the organization, I wanna know what’s in the news about this organization, I wanna hear from the individuals what’s happening in the organization. I’m not in the speech-giving business. I’m like you. The two of us, we wanna change the world in which we live. We do it in different ways. You’re a great author. I don’t consider myself a great author. I write what I wanna do, you deliver lots of good material and information to people. By what you do and the speeches you give, you change how leaders lead, you change how people live their lives. I basically want to do exactly the same thing. The only way that I think you can be effective at doing that is being curious about those people. You have to… There’s this quote that I love, it’s called, it’s a two-word quote. It goes like this, ‘Compassionate emptiness’, and what it means to me is I wanna be compassionate about how those people are feeling, what they’re thinking, what they’re doing in their lives, but empty of opinions, and the way that I get that way is by going and listening to them.

18:29 Michael Port: One of the virtues that you detail and explore in the book is hope. And we’re coming off, obviously, a great tragedy in Orlando and there are lots of things in our world right now which are so challenging that it may be easy to lose hope. And so there are bigger world issues that we face, that we need to maintain hope in order to solve. There are smaller issues in our life that, even though they’re smaller, they are almost, or even more so sometimes impactful, because they’re so close to us and immediate, and they may too get in the way of our belief in the future or the hope that we may have, so what I’m trying to say is, how do we maintain hope when forces are conspiring to deflate your hope or your ability to see the future in a better way?

19:41 Howard Behar: You know, hope is an attitude, and you can choose to be pessimistic, you can choose to be woe is me, you can choose to believe that the world is a terrible place, or you can choose the opposite. And it’s not easy, because all of us have days when we’re lacking in hope, or times when we’re lacking in hope, but we have to catch ourselves. I have worked hard at that because I’ve had, there have been times in my life when I haven’t had hope. When I retired from Starbucks, I used to preach to everybody, “You’re not Starbucks and Starbucks is not you.” And I always believe that we should always separate ourselves from our roles, in some sense, that we’re more than the roles that we play or the jobs that we hold. So when I retired from Starbucks, all of a sudden, from my 21 years of moving at warp-speed in an organization that I loved, in a business that I loved and with wonderful people that I loved to work with. I got depressed, severely depressed, to the point that I really thought my life wasn’t worth living, and because I just lost sight of Howard, and yet, I had done work my whole life.

21:15 Howard Behar: I wasn’t new to any of it, any of the self-help work, anything, I’d been doing it since I was in my early 20s and yet, all of a sudden, I find myself without hope. And I was laying on the sofa one day and I was at my home in Palm Springs and I was reading a book and I was ‘woe-ing is me’, and all of a sudden, into my head came these words, “Howard, your life’s work is still your life’s work, Howard, your life’s work is still your life’s work,” and I kept repeating that to myself and, all of a sudden, hope came back, but it took a while. And I had to live with the pain that I had to come out of it, and it taught me a valuable lesson, because I forgot and even though I thought I knew what my life’s work was, but I had forgotten. I had had a mission statement since I was in my 20s and I had a value statement and I had goals, and it’s amazing how fragile we are when I went through that separation anxiety of leaving Starbucks and I had to find myself again and hope came back. And it is always there and you just have to believe that it will come to you. So a little story about a struggle and finding hope again.

22:36 Michael Port: Thank you so much for sharing that. I too have had different periods of my life where I’ve struggled with depression. And it’s something that is not talked about quite as much as other challenges that people face, certainly other types of physical illnesses. People talk about as if they’re normal. We don’t judge people for having a physical illness, but to hear from someone like you when retiring from the kind of extraordinary career that you have would go through a difficult time like that, I think is inspiring to people that they realize, “Oh, wow. Maybe I’m not that different from folks who have done extraordinary things.” And you also mentioned that you suggest people separate from their roles and that we are more than the roles that we play. In Steal the Show, I wrote a lot about playing different roles, because if we only play one role in our life, then maybe we develop a rigid or very fixed idea of who we are and what we’re capable of. And sometimes people, when they first initially think they hear me talking about playing roles, they get a little uncomfortable thinking that, “Well, maybe that’s inauthentic, you’re pretending to be different people.”

23:56 Michael Port: But, in fact, I would suggest that we play different roles all the time and might not even realize it, but we can do it in an even more connected way with lots of different people in lots of different situations. So, I’d love you to speak to that, and also speak to the fact that you can play different roles over the years, that you’re not stuck in a role that you once played and you are a great example of reconfiguring and recreating and playing new roles after you left Starbucks.

24:30 Howard Behar: Yeah, well, I think that when you live a fulfilling life, then you are playing lots of different roles, because it’s the roles of being a parent. When you have children, that’s a whole new role in your life. When you get married or you have a significant other in your life, that’s a whole new role. When you develop friendships, those are roles that we play. When you’re teaching others, that’s a role that we play. The one thing I would say is there needs to be a thread, and I call it wearing your hat throughout your life. And those are the values that you live by. I believe that the values have to connect all the roles that you play. So, in essence, I’m always amazed when I… I would say sometimes to somebody’s spouse, “Gee, they’re such a wonderful person,” and the spouse looks at me like I’m weird.


25:26 Howard Behar: Right? “Are you talking about my husband or my wife?” Because they go home, and they think they wear a different hat or the opposite at work, where they really wanna be the ‘big boss’ at work, yellers, screamers. But at home, they would never do that. And I think it’s where they’ve lost connections with their values and who they are as a person. But the roles are different. Being a husband is a different role than being a parent, it’s a different role than being a coach at work, it’s a different role than being a mentor to a young person, or even the role that we play with ourselves. I have this little board of directors that sits on my shoulders, and they’re yapping at me all the time. And one of the things I’ve had to do in life is learn how to manage that board of directors, because some of them aren’t so nice, and some are. And I’ve had to learn how to manage those, and that’s a role that I play with myself, of manager of that board or leader of that board of directors. But I try and to do it in the context of what are my values, my core values, and that helps me keep an equilibrium in life.

26:50 Michael Port: Those voices of judgement sitting on the board, when they are very loud, do you find that the voices of judgment or the critics out in the cheap seats, the people that you don’t know, that might get some pleasure out of knocking others down, do you feel that those voices are louder when your own internal voices of judgment are loud, but if you quiet them down, the internal voices, maybe those voices out in the cheap seats are not so loud. Have you had that experience?

27:26 Howard Behar: Absolutely, I’ve had that experience. What I have learned is that those voices of judgement inside of me, if I reject them out of hand, if I say, “Get out of here,” what happens is they come back with a vengeance. And what I’ve learned is to say to them, “Look, I just don’t have time for you right now. I hear you, but I don’t have time for you right now. So, let me get back to you.” And if I allow the voices of support and caring inside myself to come up without pushing… It’s like when you get angry, when you’re angry at another person, what happens? It’s like there’s a push back. It’s the difference between boxing and tai chi. Tai chi is about taking the blows and absorbing it, where boxing is about giving a blow. And I believe in the tai chi version inside myself. Not just taking that blow, but saying, “I just don’t have time.” And then they just go away, it’s amazing. But when I push back hard, then they really come on strong. It’s the most interesting thing, I don’t even understand it myself, but I’ve learned it through trial and error.

28:40 Michael Port: But you know what really resonated with me about what you just said is, “I’ve got better things to do.” I’ve got better things to do right now that are more important than your criticism. So, I’m going to get on with those better things. I found that really, really inspiring.

28:57 Howard Behar: Yep, that’s it, and that’s the truth. And that’s what happened to me when I finally was able to quiet those voices down. Laying on the sofa, then the voices I needed came through.

29:10 Michael Port: Yeah.

29:11 Howard Behar: “Howard, your life’s work is your still your life’s work.” It was the most true statement that had ever come out of… I don’t know where it came from, but it came.

29:18 Michael Port: And, it’s really remarkable, because it seems to me that many folks don’t even aspire to do the work that they’re capable of because of the fear of the criticism that they may get. And I get criticism because I do work out in the public eye, but the work that I do in the public eye is nowhere close to the work that you did when you at Starbucks in the public eye. I mean, you have the investment bankers and the shareholders and the news media and I mean, just on and on and on questioning what you’re doing on a daily basis.

29:56 Howard Behar: It was relentless.

29:57 Michael Port: Relentless. So, how over time did… How’d you deal with that?

30:02 Howard Behar: In the early days I used to take it. Some of it killed me, particularly when we’d get sued. And finally over time, I came to accept it’s part of what we do. It’s not good people, bad people, it’s not us versus them. It is what it is and again, the tai chi example of just absorbing it and it goes away.

30:27 Michael Port: That’s amazing, it’s really beautiful. One of the things that sometimes happens to folks is that they work for approval rather than results.

30:38 Howard Behar: Yes.

30:39 Michael Port: Could you speak to that? A, could you speak to it from the perspective of a leader in terms of what you’ve seen over the years around that concept and how people who’ve worked for approval have had trouble, people who’ve worked for results have had better results, or maybe not, maybe they’ve gotten into trouble too. And then yourself, was there a point in your life when you were working for approval and then moved away from that and were working towards results instead?

31:09 Howard Behar: Yeah. I’ll start with myself first. For some reason, I think it probably was because I was the third born, I was the baby of the family, I could almost do no wrong and so I don’t ever remember working for approval. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and they were driven by results, but results with caring and love, not results by abusing people or by cheating people, not that kind of results. And oftentimes, particularly in the business world, business leaders think it’s results at any cost, and it isn’t. It’s the difference between maximizing profits and optimizing profits. Maximizing profits means you will do anything you need to do to get those results no matter what happens, and we see it all the time, people breaking the law, breaking… They’re not even breaking the law, just breaking ethics codes, doing little white lies, just to get what they want out of their lives and get the performance in. Of course, that destroys organizations over time.

32:25 Howard Behar: Now on the other side of that, is the approval side is where people get frozen, they can’t get things done because they don’t wanna make a mistake because they always want to be approved of, and so they don’t do anything. They just go with the flow, they’re the ones that would come into my office and always agree with me. It didn’t make any difference what I said, they would tell me, “That’s right, Howard. You’re right, Howard.” Or in a meeting they would never really state their opinion because they were so afraid of being rejected, and that’s what happens in life. You want a great example? I think a fantastic example is, I don’t care what your politics are or anybody’s politics are of the debates that took place, the Republican debates that took place. Here was a guy that was standing up on the stage, basically insulting everybody else on that stage, and not one person had the guts to say, “You know, Mr. Trump, I am not gonna listen to that and if you keep up with that I’m walking off the stage and we’re not ever gonna have another conversation, because you’re treating not only me but other people without respect and dignity.”

33:42 Howard Behar: And you know what was going on there? They were so fearful of being rejected by the voters, by the people that were watching, they would not take it on, and these were powerful people. Not one of ’em wasn’t a powerful politician at some level. And yet, their fear took over and their fear of being rejected, when what they should’ve done was stood up. They didn’t have to attack, they just said, “I am not gonna listen to this.” And yet that’s the fear and that happens everywhere. It blew me away.

34:14 Michael Port: I’m with you 100%. It’s very dangerous when we let our fears of being rejected influence our decisions so strongly and sometimes it’s small things, sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing it until it’s almost too late and we look back at the path that we’ve taken and we see, “My God, I’m living somebody else’s life, is that I’m doing what I think other people want me to do,” or, “I’m not following my heart or staying true to my values because I want these people to say yes to me and tell me that I’m good or I’m okay.”

34:50 Howard Behar: Right.

34:51 Michael Port: And we see this… Yeah, this is something that we’re seeing quite profoundly right now in our world and in our politics, for sure.

35:00 Howard Behar: Absolutely.

35:01 Michael Port: Howard, what’s something that you’ve learned that really changed the way that you behaved, operated, saw the world from somebody that might have been in an entry-level position at Starbucks, or maybe somebody that was in a custodial position? Somebody that isn’t typically there to influence the executive team, but because of the way they saw the world, they actually did?

35:30 Howard Behar: Oh, God. One of the most important lessons I ever learned in my life was from a junior level manager who actually didn’t report directly to me. But one day, she came in and it was about 4:00 in the afternoon and she came to my office and asked if she could talk to me, and she sat down in a chair in front of me and she just started bawling, just crying. And this was early on in my career, and uncontrollably. And I closed the door and I had a box of Kleenex and I got up from my chair and I went around and I put my arm around her shoulders and say, “It’s okay. It will be alright.” Honest to God, I was so shocked at what happened. I thought she was going to tear my head off. She turned from tears to anger and it was my first time to understand how people express their anger in different ways. She wasn’t crying out of sadness, she was crying out of anger.

36:35 Howard Behar: And here what I did, I came around that chair, basically, like this father figure, “I’m going to save you, dear.” And she got so mad at me and it was a great learning experience for me, particularly as it related to… It’s not just women and men, but sometimes women express their anger in different ways, men do too. But I had never experienced that before and that lesson stayed with me my whole life. I never judged… When they came into my office, whether they were yelling or screaming, whether they were crying tears or whatever it was, I never made an assumption again about what that person was thinking or feeling.

37:18 Howard Behar: And that came from a low level executive or a manager, and she taught me, she didn’t know she was going to teach me that lesson, I didn’t know she was going to teach me that lesson, but that lesson has served me the rest of my life, and it’s taught me to ask questions first and to listen before making a judgement and taking an action.

37:38 Michael Port: Did you ever have an opportunity to tell her that she influenced you so strongly?

37:43 Howard Behar: Absolutely. Years later, 20 years later.

37:47 Michael Port: Wow.

37:47 Howard Behar: We ran into each other and I related that story and she just started laughing. She was laughing about who she was as that young person and who she was today and we both laughed but I said… Because later on at Starbucks, I was dealing with that all the time. People with tears of sorrow, people with tears of joy, people being angry and having learned that lesson so early on, it really served me well.

38:17 Michael Port: What a beautiful story, and what a great lesson for all of us. Howard, you are somebody who continues to inspire me. I see you as a role model in absentia. We don’t spend time together, but I follow you and I just have so much to learn from you and so do so many others. I want everybody listening to read ‘The Magic Cup’. It’s a beautiful book, it’s a beautiful parable. And, where can they reach you? Of course, they can buy the book anywhere books are sold, of course.

38:46 Howard Behar: They can reach me at It’s my initials, HB, Or they can go onto my website at

39:00 Michael Port: So, you realize, guys, the former president of Starbucks just shared his email with you and these days, even somebody who has a tiny little business with one or two people, they won’t even put their email address in public. They don’t want anybody contacting them, so that tells us a lot.

39:15 Howard Behar: I respond to anybody, everybody. I have a rule in my life. If somebody calls me, if somebody sends me an email, they’re going to get a response, period.

39:23 Michael Port: Well, thank you so much for being here. I truly appreciate it.

39:25 Howard Behar: Alright, Michael, thank you very much for having me.

39:27 Michael Port: You’re very welcome. And everybody, keep thinking big about who you are and about what you offer the world. I’m very inspired right now by Howard’s interview, I know you are, too. So, go out, stand in the service of others as you stand in the service of your destiny. Bye for now.