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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 Howard Schultz. (P)2011 HighBridge Company

What the critics say

"This is a must-read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Onward

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Too Long and Boring

Here's what I liked about the book:
- Written by Howard Schultz (CEO) which gives an insider's perspective to a beloved brand
- Gives a really good look at the inner workings of such a well known consumer brand
- Gives a lot of insight into Howard's leadership style and some of his leadership habits such as a lot of choices they made with the brand were very fascinating (closing stores, getting back to the core competency, investing in training and development, etc).

Here's what I didn't like
- I don't think it was 100% genuine. I thought it was kind of a sales job, in that CEO sales job kind of way. I'd say it seemed less then 75% genuine.
- Telling the results of a turnaround story before time has run its course is ridiculous, as is the general timing of the "turnaround." Hello, we were in a major rebound after a recession.
- Howard comes across as annoying - sounds to me like he believes a lot of his own reerick.
- I found the book to be a couple of hours too long and not a lot of detail into why they opened all those branches and the cost of closing them.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Law
  • 2019-05-03

Was Okay

Easy to listen, but was expecting more substance from a successful company. Felt the story was watered down. Was okay overall.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting story- worth listening to

This was a very interesting story. If you are a fan of the coffee the story is worth listening to.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Inspiring Book.

Love the story and the narrative is great. This give me much more in-depth understand of how Starbuck runs it company.

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Overwhelming trope

Starbucks is now "pivoting" (insert annoying buzzword here,) to providing coffee via pick up and drive through only. No more 3rd place. Less and less interaction with the barista, friends. I very much enjoyed the first book as just as a novice effort by a musician, the passion was evident, and Howard really had something. This book is like the same thing made for contract fulfillment, under duress. Over and over the same concept driven past. Maybe 10 years ago it might have struck but not any more. Maybe it's me. I couldn't get through it.

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Excellent production but too promotional

I was expecting a better history of what happened. It was a little too self-promotional at moments. I had the impression that I was in a 9 hours Starbucks publicity.

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Love what you do

It’s very clear how do you go from chapter to chapter highs and lows that Howard Schultz absolutely loves the process that is involved in every cup of Starbucks coffee. It’s truly a great story for any business person that wants to run their business and operate themselves at the highest standard possible.

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Repetitive and Boring

For such an incredible business person and turn around agent, this book could have been amazing but it missed the mark. On and on and on about the same thing. Not enough substance. Definitely a sales pitch over a genuine desire to speak candidly.

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once you get past the sales pitch, it's an ok book

A nice view from the CEO's desk on a company overcoming change. Largely it's short on details. The book does achieve its principal goal of acting as advertising for Starbucks and self promotion for the author who constantly reminds us how much he loves his employees, while glossing over mass layoffs. Overall, it was a fairly easy read and talks about the value of branding, the dangers of expanding too fast and the pulls and challenges of being in the big seat

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Essential read

This is an awesome book that will give you lots of little nuggets of information that will serve you throughout your life. I also highly recommend Howard’s other books as well

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carla
  • 2011-06-13

Interesting, but a bit annoying

Here's what I liked about the book:
- Written by Howard Schultz (CEO) which gives a really cool inside perspective
- Gives a really cool inside look into a well known consumer brand
- Gives a lot of insight into HS's leadership style and some of his leadership habits
- A lot of choices they made with the brand were very fascinating (closing stores, getting back to the core competency, investing in training and development, etc).

Here's what I didn't like
- I don't think it was 100% genuine. I thought it was kind of a sales job, in that CEO sales job kind of way. I'd say it seemed 75% genuine.
- Telling the results of a turnaround story before time has run it's course is ridiculous, as is the general timing of the "turnaround." Hello, we were in a major rebound after a recession.
- HS comes across as annoying - sounds to me like he believes a lot of his on BS.
- I found the book to be a couple of hours too long.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • YB
  • 2011-04-01

Too slow and boring

Probably a fair book if you are passionate about knowing everything about Starbucks, but not of much use if you intend to learn anything about running a business or being an entrepreneur.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Maria
  • 2012-01-10

Listen to the story, hear more than the story

I have to admit, towards the end I was looking forward to finishing this audiobook. Sometimes the "name dropping" got long and felt purposeless although I can appreciate that Howard Schultz gives credit where credit is due.

The "story" itself is interesting and several parts felt thoroughly inspiring. I have definitely learned a great deal about Starbucks! Other than the company's navigation through its hardships though, the reader (or better yet, the listeners) can also read, between the lines, a great many lessons. From change management, to marketing, to branding and ultimately, to giving a company a soul, this audiobook covers an interesting array of challenges that a company faces. Definitely an interesting listen!

5 people found this helpful

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  • royphotog
  • 2011-11-07

A good lesson for any company

I had read Howard Schultz first book and was already a fan of Starbucks but this book made me even more of a fan. Starbucks is one of those rair companies who manages to stay true to ther roots and their small store beliefs even after they turn public and have thousands of stores. But this is the story or a turn around, of seeing the problems even before they affect the bottom line, of making hard decisions, of treating their people, and customers right. I learned a lot from this book and if your at all interested in Starbucks as a company, or if you have a company that's having trubble, then I recommend this to you. The only drawback, and it's a small one is the reading style is a little slow. I wished at times that Bowlby would speed things up a bit.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pankaew
  • 2011-08-07

Stellar Book Into the Mindset of a Top CEO

Ignore the reviews about how Shultz "seems to believe what he says too much." What the heck did you expect - A CEO that doesn't believe in his own company?

For me, this book gave amazing insight into how a top CEO selects his top executives, the challenges in turning a failing company around, how he instills the right company culture and handles Wall Street all at the same time.

First class business book, IMO.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joao
  • 2012-03-07

Interesting but longer than it needed to be

I'm a fan of Starbucks and have great respect for what they achieved.
I was aware of the troubles they went through in 2008-2010 and it's good to hear from the CEO's perspective what happened and how they turned around. Gives us good insight on how successful CEO's think and operate and we get a better understanding of what Starbucks is about.
That said, this book could be about half the lenght... at times it goes on and on and on about things that are not relevant. For example at one point Mr Schultz rambles on about what customers might be doing at a store when the point he was trying to make was something else altogether.
Still, a good story about Starbucks' history. Enjoyed it.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Vy
  • 2011-12-23

Too sales-y

The audience of this book is people who work for Starbucks. It's a way to reinforce corporate dogma. For everyone else (like me) it's hours and hours of sitting through a corporate sales meeting. Very little strategy, business planning, marketing tips, or anything else. Also the book jumps back and forth through time and it all becomes very confusing. Furthermore, the narrator reads very slowly. Definitely thankful for the 2x speed on my iPhone.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff
  • 2011-05-15

Not as good as his first but still great

Howard is a bit narcissistic in his portrayal of Starbucks 2.0, but he it an excellent story teller, incredibly articulate, and I learned a lot from reading Onward. Actually, I listened to it on 2x or 3x speed, which was just perfect for the treadmill. Enjoy.

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kristy
  • 2021-04-11

Don’t waste your time!

I love Starbucks. I love non fiction. I love reading books about iconic businesses. I figured this book would be great. It wasn’t! I can’t think of any reason to read it. The book was boring, the author was self absorbed, and it was very repetitive. I’ll sum up the 8hrs for you.... Starbucks showed signs of decline. The original CEO comes back. He creates a transformation agenda. Two years later the company is doing much better. In between they go back and forth over breakfast sandwiches, create pike place roast, and launch instant coffee. The end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • AR
  • 2018-06-09

I didn't bother to finnish this book.

I love Starbucks therefore, I was excited to listen to this book; it was such a disappointment. This book sounded like an employee manual; only because of my interest in this brand that I pushed myself to listen on until chapter six.

1 person found this helpful