Career and Business lessons

How the founder of Starbucks made it a success, without even a passion for coffee

I’ve been thinking about this title a lot, lately. It sounds so counter intuitive to be the founder of such a big coffee concern in almost half of the world, while at the same time coffee isn’t his biggest passion. I have to say that I came to conclude that it is not counter intuitive by any means, and according to Howard Schultz the man himself he really turned his passion into reality. But what is his passion if it’s not coffee? Let me explain you what’s happening.

Something new

Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks announced in november 2016 that he would step down as Starbucks chief. By that time he would hand over 25,000 stores in 75 countries. That’s massive when you realize that we only have 195 countries in the world. It means that Starbucks by that time was present in almost 39% of all the countries around the globe!

Needless to say, Schultz has reinvented the coffee culture in the U.S. by introducing Italian-style cappuccinos and lattes to that market. His mark is clear and loud. But lately I came to hear something about him that I didn’t know yet.

Hidden passion

I haven’t introduced you yet to writer and public speaker Carmine Gallo. He advices businesses and leaders all around the globe on how to tell engaging stories and grow businesses. He really is an expert on that and that’s why I like to read his blog every once in a while.

For his own blog he interviewed Howard Schultz and the one thing that surprised Gallo a lot was that Schultz rarely mentioned the word coffee during the conversation and that he had to bring that up himself. On Gallo’s blog you can read Schultz say:

“We’re not in the coffee business. It is what we sell as a product, but it’s not what we stand for”
Howard Schultz on Carmine Gallo’s Blog.

What Schultz says over there is something that is very important to understand. Gallo explains:

“Starbucks is NOT in the coffee business, which is why it’s successful. You see, Schultz loves coffee, but he’s passionate about the people, the baristas who make the Starbucks experience what it is. Schultz’s vision was much bigger than to make a better cup of coffee. His moonshot was to create an experience; a third place between work and home. He wanted to build a company that treats people with dignity and respect. Those happy employees would, in turn, provide a level of customer service that would be seen as a gold standard in the industry.”
Carmine Gallo on his blog.

The lesson from that

So how Starbucks is going to serve people in their day to day lives is what has been Schultz’ real passion. Bringing better coffee to peoples life can be one mission statement. But creating a unique “Starbucks-experience” where customer service, dignity and respect is central, can be another one. Starbucks has enriched many lives by making the journey from home to work a little bit more enjoyable.

You know, it all starts with that mission statement and a vision of how that company is going to achieve that. It’s reflected in its culture and helps define of what it can become. Because of that Starbucks-experience, you’ll see a certain customer contact, they introduced as one of the first the take-away service and gave customers access to WiFi. With that the company is setting its own culture, that is in line with its core mission and vision. With that, they changed the mindset of coffee customers worldwide: from a coffee shop being a place to buy a cup of coffee to a place to experience a good cup of coffee.

So the biggest mistake that some starting business owners make is that they focus too much on the product itself. If you ask them what they sell or why I should buy the product, they come with an extended list of descriptions instead of coming up with the benefits that are going to enrich certain aspects of someones life. If that something is a minute out of the day where people can flee out of their busy work life and feel respected and comfortable, there you go Starbucks! If that something is that people want to drink better coffee than they used to, then you can start to build a brand experience where it’s all about the quality of the coffee.


So it all depends on what you want to bring to the world. If you’re passionate about coffee and you have a vision on how you want people to meet better coffee, you can start with building that brand culture. But you’re mission statement can also be similar to that of Howard Schultz. He saw a need of people that had to be met. A need for a place where you can experience a good cup of coffee, while you’re on your way to work. Even that can make a big difference.

So leaders like Howard Schultz are not afraid to share their passion. Passion is everything. A leader, manager or entrepreneur cannot inspire without it. Dig deep to identify your core value, the area where you want to make a ‘dent in the universe,’ as Steve Jobs once said. And ask yourself a question that Howard Schultz says is the key to success: What business am I really in? 

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Career and Business lessons

360 degree video: the future of online content

The days when we only used words to fill our blog posts are definitely over. If you’re an artist or an entrepreneur who likes to experiment with different forms of visual storytelling, you might like this post on 360 degree video.

Finding new ways to engage your audience

I like to experiment with new ways to bring my stories to life. From adding videos, to written articles and audio. But there are many more options of bringing online content alive than you might think. For example, there are many passionate geeks who are spending their time to come up with new and unconventional ideas to engage audiences. Their ideas are brought in to adapt to the changing dynamics in the world of online content.

Nowadays, for example, you see some challenges in the way social media uses her feeds. Instagram and Facebook auto-play on users’ feeds. This means more and more videos are being viewed without sound, which makes it much harder for entrepreneurs or artists to get their own message across.

We as storytellers have to overcome that boundary. And what is even better to come up with videos that actually don’t need sound at all to tell your story and to engage your audience.

Interactive, soundless video content

One trend to aid this tactic is 360 degree video. It’s an interactive way to engage your audience and let hem play with and explore your content.

Look for example at National Geographic. They don’t limit themselves to just static images – they also provide an array of videos. They integrated soundless video content in their content marketing strategy and holy moly, did you see anything like this before?

This interactive 360 video is engaging without sound and still provides information with sporadic subtitles. If the viewer wants sounds then they can turn it on and hear soothing ocean noises. The background noise adds to the tone of the story and aids in the emotional connection to the content but doesn’t affect the story itself being told.

Take your viewer on a journey

Like in the online magazine that I am going to bring out 4 times a year (more on that by the end of this year), I try to give you an exclusive sneak peak into my world. I also show my journey on my blog, but the magazine is a whole new level of intimacy.

And I’m also pretty excited about it since the magazine is my excuse to have conversations with fascinating people, to talk extensively about my accomplishments and to elevate the voices of others. Along that journey I make choices. Will it uplift the story and its message if I use 360 degree video? There are many ways to tell your story, but the form that you choose has to take your reader on the right journey. That’s something that I keep asking myself.

360 degree video also works perfectly with artists. Yes, I have lost a few hours discovering the many ways in which 360-degree videos are used. Take these ones for example:

You might know the Waiting For Love song from Avicii. But did you see the clip? 360 video is really adding value to the clip:

But it can be also a way for art galleries to bring what’s inside to life for people. Since art galleries have a somewhat static image. Pivot Art + Culture did a great job by making their artworks more accessible with this video:


As you’ve seen, 360 degree video can be used widely. It’s a refreshing way to tell your story. Also, 360 video can be one thing, but the requirement is that it has to fit the purpose of the story. Otherwise your causing confusion among your readers, and that’s something you want to avoid by any means.

The idea to find new ways to tell compelling stories is necessary. There are many trends and the future of online content is really partnering the trend of VR and AR. I’m happy to hear more of that.

If however, you don’t have the content to create an engaging 360 video and would prefer to stay with a standard video, subtitles are a must in order to tell your story and take your viewer on a journey. Are you planning to incorporate 360 degree video into your storytelling?

Head over to more blogs about storytelling:

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Career and Business lessons

Turning your blog into a brand, – advices from Richard Branson

If you’re into blogging, you may have your favourite bloggers. I do! Entrepreneur Richard Branson is one of them. In one of his interviews he is asked to give us blog advice on how to make the most of an online audience and turn your blog into a business. I would like to go through his blog advice (s) with you. Hang on with me.

Find the fit

The Washington Post publishes over 500 pieces of content a day. Other big content kings like the New York Times and the Wallstreet Journal publish 230 and 240 stories a day. That is tremendous! So with starting a blog in todays era, you can definitely count on some competition. Richard Branson confirms in an interview from 2016 in “Drawing a loyal group of followers is not easy, and requires a lot of time, effort and commitment […]”. But despite that competition, there is also hope to make your voice heard.

There is also something else that´s very important if you want to make your mark in today’s blogging era. The cue to building a brand is to find the fit between the desires of your loyal audience on the one hand and the blog posts, services and products that you offer on the other. That fit is important for building some level of uniqueness and consistency, which is needed for the brand to become well-known and trusted.

The Virgin founder says: “[…] The most important step when building a business around your blog is to look at whether the products and services you’re considering fit with the brand that you have built up. For example, if the image that you’re conveying through your site is one of sophistication and luxury, the items you sell should reflect that as well.”

The advantages of a blogger

Richard acknowledges that bloggers have a unique advantage over others trying to launch a business: “You know who your customers are, and your customers already know and trust you.”

Richard adds: “Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.” “As a blogger, you have a direct line to your customers, and you should use this connection to help make the best decisions for the community you have created.”

Another advantage that Richard identifies bloggers have over other entrepreneurs is that they can communicate with customers in ways that “normal businesses” don’t. They are able to adapt to a dialogue with their readers to figure out what’s really in their minds. He recommends to just ask readers whether they’d be interest in buying some of the products or services that you’re thinking about.

But, Richard also warns for the dark side of blogging. He says: “The relationship between a successful blogger and her readers tends to be a two-way street, and you need to avoid alienating them when you monetise your blog.”

Never loose the dialogue, intimacy or a sense of community

“Take a careful look at what differentiates you from your competition. Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.”

He adds: “Think about why your readers come to you, and not another blogger. “[…] you need to make sure that what you’re offering is truly unique. Your readers and followers should see those goods or services as different from everyone else’s.”

Make your readers your first priority as you pursue this idea, and you’ll turn your brand into a business.”


I hope Richard Branson’s blog advice (s) help you along your own blog journey. Reach out for me if you want to share your ideas. That’s something I enjoy.

Read these blogs if you’re interested in more information about how to turn your online presence into a personal brand:

Career and Business lessons

Why marketing is an unacknowledged art form

Marketing is often simplified by saying that it’s only done without integrity. In an interview that I read with documentary maker Louis Theroux, he claims that marketing is an “unacknowledged art form”. Louis mentions that he sees much in marketing “to enjoy” and is intrigued by the balance of “seduction and sales”. I couldn’t agree more on that I think. Let me explain you why.

The misconception

In the world of bringing ideas into life, there’s one conception that’s reducing marketing as an unacknowledged art form. It’s the conception that it would only be something that’s striving for sales, leads and money. 

Because of that, marketing is often considered as unauthentic, shady and dishonest. Look for example at the campaign that promoted the Duracell Ultra Advanced and the Duracell Ultra Power. To promote these batteries the brand came up with the slogan: “Lasts Even Longer”. Unfortunately in 2012 Duracell, Inc & Gamble Company got sued by customers claiming that the companies were delivering deceptive marketing and misleading facts. Although the batteries were more expensive than regular ones, they did not provide longer life.      

All in all it’s a good example of a brand (un)intentionally bringing false promises. I think if you’re seducing people with a false promise or you’re seducing people to buy something by popping up all the time or using agressive methods to grab attention, then you place the importance of earning money over the importance of creating value.  

Duracell Ultra Advanced and Duracell Ultra Power

Yet there’s also another side to marketing. As Theroux put it: “There’s an aspect of marketing that I do find interesting that hinges on that combination of seduction and sales, which I don’t think is antagonistic in itself. There’s much about marketing to enjoy.” This other side of marketing is what Seth Godin calls Marketing The Right Way. It’s marketing based on understanding human behaviour and putting relationship-building first. This kind of marketing is about meaningfully connect with people who want it. It’s the kind of marketing where seduction and sales partner each other equally. 

Compelling narratives

Although Louis Theroux has never made marketing a priority to his career as a documentary maker, Louis admits that there are similarities between what broadcasters do and what advertisers do.

Their focus may not be as different as it seems. Because if marketing is done the right way, both try to build close relationships with their audience, whether they are viewers or consumers.

What advertisers seek for

Look for example what advertisers seek for. If you’re an advertiser longing to promote an artist in music business, you seek for people who listen to a certain type of music and like to experience that with their like-minded friends.

If you’re an advertiser longing to promote a coffee brand through banners online, you seek for people who like to drink coffee and are present in certain areas of the web.

The famous words of Seth Godin about Marketing the Right Way are more than true: “people like this, do things like this.” To get people excited about the stuff that you are making, you have to reach out for people who act in accordance to a certain internal narrative.

Understanding those narratives is needed to make a meaningful connection with people.

What broadcasters seek for

Even broadcasters seek for narratives to make a meaningful connection with people. Even Louis Theroux mentions at the Festival of Marketing last October that creating compelling narratives is required for great marketing.

Those narratives are needed to build a close connection with the audience, he says. Stories are about finding something in common. He says: “It’s the case of finding something [in common] and a lot of that resides in getting in touch with your own desire. We are, as banal as it may sound, not so very different from each other. And the more we get separated from one another in society, the more refreshing and redemptive it is when we find small connections. […] “I like to try and do that with my programmes. I like to try and find stories that are full of angst and darkness but at the same time find light and connection, and it’s that tension and release.”

What I seek for

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For me, blogging is all about that too. I publish my own articles because I would like to get in touch with likeminded people. That’s the reason for me to write.

To me there is no bigger joy than writing about ideas that are worth spreading, sharing personal lessons that may be useful for you or sharing quotes that may broaden your perspective on things.

I want to use my blogging platform as a force for good. I’ve never been interested in using the platform as a way to show my wealthy lifestyle to people, or to showcase who your friends are to gain some sort of a status with it.

But I do am in the business of allowing people to see the best of themselves through the work that I do and the stories that I am able to tell. That’s what I try to do with everything that I do. Everytime I write a blog post. Everytime I am somewhere to show that. With the hope that it is gonna bring some more meaning, joy and wisdom to your life to make the best of it.

If you like to know more about me, head over to my about-page by clicking on my face:

… And so?!

And so what does it take to make marketing an acknowledged art form? 

If marketing is done the right way, there is no big difference between the focus of an advertiser, an artist, a copywriter or whatever kind of job you’re in. In this way your focus lies on serving your audience in the first place. By understanding them, by knowing what’s in their minds and by fully getting what they wish for. 

What would be a step forward is if more brands and people would show by example that marketing is more than just selling stuff. In fact, if marketing becomes synonymous with creating value. If marketing equals creating things and services that enrich one’s life.  

And that is quite an art in itself.