I believe the reason why Starbucks Coffee Japan (SBJ) was successful was that SBJ's partners genuinely believed in the Starbucks Mission Statement and continued to grow the business and the partners without being satisfied with the current situation. Also, I think that one of the biggest inspirations and influences I witnessed in the process of building the foundation of SBJ was the human power of Howard Behar.
I became a big fan of Howard immediately because of his big heart. Prime examples of this were he respected and accepted the culture of our country, the importance of believing in the potential of human beings, and his charming smile.
Here are some additional examples I still remember today:
At the interview when I joined SBJ, I was asked , "Which do you think is more important, your personal success or team success?”
He handed a lot of whole bean stickers to the bored kids in the store, and the table was full of stickers in the end.
While telling me to take him to as many stores as possible, he begged me to eat Haagen-Dazs ice cream because he can't move anymore.
When I was having trouble with my work, he gave me a personal consultation in Seattle.
When I left the company, he called me to encourage me while leaving for vacation from his boat in Seattle.
The appreciative letter I received from him when I sent the jigsaw puzzle of Ginza, the first SBJ store, for his rehabilitation.
When I invited him to Yuji's memorial birthday, he sent me a wonderful message saying, "I can't go, but you can read this message from me.”
All of my countless memories blended comfortably with his kindness and charm. I still vividly remember his warm and smiling face at that time.
Currently, I am a consultant for chain stores regarding mission statements, medium-term corporate plans, coaching skills, evaluation systems, and new business development. The cumulative number of contracted companies has already exceeded 150. I often talk to my clients about what I have learned from him.
I would like to continue to widely communicate why the values we modeled daily with SBJ partners (our thoughts on Partners) were so special and impactful to Japanese companies so that they know consistently modeled values have a great influence on how people treat each other. My hope is that these companies want to model good values so their employees feel they can create and contribute to a society that gives energy and vitality to people’s hearts and spirits.