Category Archives: Finance

Howard Schultz on Leadership and Politics

Jump Into The Pool

Entrepreneurship is getting increasingly possible with technology and access to capital. This is an enormously good time to become one, you need to understand fiduciary responsibility and the values you want to bring to the business. If you have a great idea that you are passionate about you need to decide if you are willing to make the sacrifice. There is no mentor, no instruction manual; you simply need to jump into the pool.

Find out what the price of success is and pay it. 

Starbucks as a Value Based Company

In 1986, Starbucks was a coffee supplier with 10 stores. They believed that values and profits were not mutually exclusive. Schultz grew up in the projects and when his father broke his hip, he was fired and there was no hope in the family. That memory sticks with Schultz so much that Starbucks has an employee healthcare plan that invests in people. There is an employee college degree program. Starbucks had a race relations day in 2018 in light of a discrimination in their stores. Starbucks values are progressive.

Starbucks China

Starbuck has >3500 stores in China. So how do you transfer your culture in a different market? Howard Schultz actually had struggled with China, he sent two Americans to lead the Chinese expansion. It was aTea-drinking society. But bad management decisions were reverse when Belinda Wong became CEO of Starbuck China, she was able to attract great people, identify the right cultural mix and bring the Starbucks brand into the heart of the Chinese consumer.

Localizing Your Brand to Other Cultures

Jack Ma asked Howard Schultz to speak in China in front of his Alibaba staff. As Schultz was talking, he noticed that most of the people in the audience is really old. But it was explained to him that those are the parents of the employees. Every company wide event, Ma invites the parents of the employees because the family unit is so important. Jack Ma created a family company. Howard Schultz copied that so that Starbucks employees invite their parents, aunts, uncles and celebrated the children and the family, to grow with the company. They want Starbucks healthcare for the parents; created with the Chinese government and an insurance company. The price of admission is that you need to be value based but you need to have the financial performance as well. Again, these aren’t mutually exclusive things.

Be Intellectually Curious

You should be looking around corners and see what others don’t. Sometimes you will be in an uncomfortable situation because of that. You can’t learn stuff in a textbook. It’s not the worst thing to make a career mistake. Learning and practicing your craft in whatever role you are in now.

For example, Howard Schultz worked for Xerox because it was considered such a great company. Xerox training centre for professional selling skills. He became an assistant of a sales. You had to take the humility of rejection and perseverance and keep going in sales. Creating leads for the actual sales person.

Ask HR What You Can Do

Ask them by stating: This is where I am today, what can I do outside of the reference of my immediate job to go get myself more informed and more involved. Ask your manager, why was that decision being made? You have to be prepared to learn, asking questions.

Easier to Disrupt Rather Than Invent a New Category

Most business ideas that turn into startups: those businesses to do not succeed. As a baseline, the odds are against you. There is always this question of what is the best road to take. Should I disrupt a category or invent one. It is very very hard to change consumer behaviour. Unless you have the most compelling platform and win the long race of losing money, it is much easier to disrupt an existing space.

What size of a business are you thinking about?

Howard Schultz invested in AllBirds shoes, the ethos and the quality of the shoe, social media and emotionally engaging with the consumers set them apart. There is always an opportunity for a niche player and we will have the nibble-ness that big companies simply don’t.

Importance of Focus

You need to have Focus on the business. Where can you add to the business. You will have a challenge and see where you can see where you are applying your time. Assess what you think that you have had the impact that you think you should have had.

Ensure Your Economic Model is Viable

Everyone has a financial model and economics. If you can get 20% operating margin, you’re good ie if you have a 1M store you want to get a profit of 200K. If you are getting only 10% then you aren’t doing it right. Use the monthly income statement as a report card of what you already know. The income statement is just on aspect of the company. But the other issue is the values of the company. You should be engaging people on what is going on. Don’t be formal about these things; you need to be in the mud.

Think Customer First

Always imagine the customer and the employees at the table during your decisions. Does this solution improve the customer and employee story?

Do Your Due Diligence

If you are getting investors, do your due diligence on them. Their history should be the due diligence on the company. Talk to the entrepreneurs on how they acted in the past given a certain situation. You should want to know how that person has acted in the board room. One question is going to be how will we work together when/if things go wrong. Then set up a hypothetical. How can I rely on you. Then ask that person with the investors. Do your homework on your investors.

How much equity to give up?

As little as possible. At the same time, most CEOs are worried about control, but you can maintain control of the company even was 10% or less of the ownership as long as you lead well and keep making money.

Under promise and over deliver

The entrepreneurs should explain why they believe in the idea. It has to be personal relationship with the project. You have to promise the investor, with 100% conviction, that the investor will get the rate of return that they deserve.

Overinvest in Culture

Culture has been a catch-all but what does it really mean. It is vitally important in order to be success. You should understand human behaviour and then elevate your group of people that they are part of a company that is larger then themselves and their behaviour which will ultimately define the company. You want to have a company where your people are talking about their job in a positive light at the dinner table. They should love what this company stands for. You should also look at the actions you might not approve of and stand up and say that is not consistent with the brand of the company. And then have townhalls where people can express how they feel and where there will be no retribution and have it out. No retribution is key.

Hire a Values-Based Team

You should try to attract great people. People don’t want to be managed, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, they want to see themselves as part of that vision, they want to be appreciated. So a good manager should create the atmosphere that we are building something larger than anyone of us.

You have to have a high standard, and you have to define what is mediocrity, what does it mean, what does excellent performance. “Our individual and collective responsibility is to the 300K employees of Starbucks” Howar Schultz. If you see something inconsistent with the value and you basically let it slide then you’re screwed.

Dealing with Competition

Do your homework about the marketplace. Features, benefits, price and experience understand it. Be mindful of the competition. We should be in control of our own destiny and need to believe in our own goals, regardless of the competition.

Cannibalize Yourself, Innovate and Undermine Your Comfort Zone

You have to be ahead of infrastructure, can the company take on a new startup like project? On the one hand companies chase too many things too early. Schultz doesn’t think that you can create value in having too many projects with the limited resources you have. You want to have incrementally accretive improvements to the brand.


It’s easy to lead when things are going well, it’s harder to lead when things have gone the wrong way. Growth typically covers over the mistakes. So the challenge is to continue the behaviour of an entrepreneurial. Story telling is a great way to tell the story of the company.

Transparency Means Sharing the Responsibility

In 2008, Starbucks suffered from hubris. Howard Schultz had to return to the company as CEO. He wasn’t really paying attention at board of directors level. So on his return, he said that here is the real problem; we are losing money for reasons X, Y, Z and there is a financial crisis right now. Schultz believes that you should trust your people enough to give them that information. How can you ask of them if you don’t share with great transparency. 50% of our customers who came last year, aren’t coming to Starbucks this year. The economic crisis was completely challenging. Are you going to hide the ball or share that bad information? Schultz believes you should share it so that people can take action on the ground.

Cuts Sometimes Must Happen

You might have to make cuts if the downturn is serious. The sooner you make the cuts to the company the better. There will be a significant impacts. You need to show empathy in that situation. You should dream it, but never say it out loud. There is no straight line, most of the challenges are not going to appear in the textbook. Make sure you have the right team in your game.

Presidential Run – January – March 2019

Howard Schultz initiated a presidential run in 2019 that looked at running as an independent and not a democrat. While it was short lived, it was memorable and thoughtful.

Schultz Identifies the Problems in US Federal Democracy Well 

Parties Are Bunk

The two party system is a duopoly that does not represent the American public. 


is both a means of intensifying the GOTV “get out the vote” and a product of gerrymandered seats where the only flank to worry about is even a less compromising extremist insurgency (progressive left and radical right). 


If you say one thing positive about your opponent or move 5 inches away from the ideology, “you’re out” your own party will enforce a toll on you.They are unwilling to work together, hence the need to break the status quo…

Hyper-Media Partisanship

As mainstream media became increasingly under threat by a new online forces, they too have re-oriented over the last decade into hyper-partisan, re-enforcing.

The Public Doesn’t Get Represented

It’s so screwed up that really only 8 battleground states actually have impactful voters; the other 42 statesgo solidly one way or the other. While these 42 do fluctuate that gerrymandering certainly doesn’t help break the state by state red state blue state issue. If you are a democratic in a red state you’re screwed and vice versa. 

Legislative Gridlock

The federal government was not able to pass bills under Obama and then under Trump, executive orders shot up precipitously. If you read the Master of the Senate, you’ll see that parliamentary politics is a series of negotiations, faction building exercise. What Schultz was pointing out was evidently true, that the two party system has crushed compromise in the age of the internet. In the 1990s, everyone was worried that Gore and Bush seemed cut from the same wool, now it’s that the only way to get elected is to say the most unbalanced, irresponsible things.

Overlap of Self-Interest and Public Interest

Obviously politicians are interested in self-interest and self-preservation, and not doing the right thing on a regular basis but it is compounded by the fact that they do not know what the public actually wants…. just those who show up on their team as supporters.

Ideological Framework is A Form of Prejudice

The ideological framework of the two parties has been a mechanism to organize voters into a discreet camps. That ideological system does not overlay policy delivery. The budgetary and technical constraints of government do not match up with the ideological spectrum. And in fact, the spectrum is a crutch for our cognitive weakness, most voters should hate the left and right nomenclature because it does not reflect the needs and desires of people, but ultimately, people are busy.

Independents aren’t in the Middle

They reject the spectrum. Being an independent is synonymous with being intellectually free. 40% of Americans are independents and it’s a mistaken idea that independents are in the middle, it’s more that they hate being owned by one or the other party which can then take them for granted.

The Schultz Brew

His solution is for him to run as a centrist that can deliver a bipartisan presidency. That can work with Democrats and republican lawmakers who he has pull but no allegiances to. Schultz wants to break the log jam in legislation. A fairly noble goal!

Getting People in a Room

Crowdsourcing policy solutions organically. This approach is a common one, but by lifting the partisan lens, Schultz is suggesting integrative solutions is what is needed.

What Schultz Got Wrong

Not offering anything truly innovative alongside his candidacy: he basically said he alone would fix the US.

Extremism is a bargaining position 1/2 of the time

The reason that hard left candidate can win is that about 50% of their supporters know intuitively that a lot of the ideas on the far left aren’t financially or economically feasible, but that the tactic Trump initiated which was to shift the overton window further to their position which will be a better starting point for negotiations in the legislative system that the US has. There are elements of free education at the university level, but education is certainly overrated, it’s the person learning that matters. The fact is there is never any thought put into the execution of the policy. Schultz has a sense of this which is his saving grace. The tepid and annoying middle, is far more likely the outcome in negotiations, and Schultz is saying “I’ll be standing right there to get deals done.” 

In Practical Terms

A big part of his gamble was that Bernie Sanders or a further left of centre Democrat would win the nomination. That turned out not to be the case as there were more centrist candidates vying for status in the eventual nomination’s team of rivals. So a running joke in Washington was that Schultz was enriching consultants who knew that he was not going to cross the finish line at all.

The Startup Logic In a Government Context

In order for Schultz to win, he has to win which seems circular but it’s true. Expectations of government are unrealistic, that projects have to be perfect from day one: Optics Optics Optics! Starbucks wasn’t built in a day though. For Schultz, he has to get Democratic and Republican voters to pivot to him in a system that has hardwired disappointing but binary choices for many many generation. The voter has to not worry that their vote is “splitting” or “spoiling” the vote before the election has been tabulated. Post-facto claims that X candidate split the such-and-such vote is a classic claim but it is wrong-headed since t only be derived after the vote. Pre-vote, it is a partisan campaign tactic. 

Howard Schultz Is Boring and Partisan

His ideas on what’s broken about US politics were spot on (I would have made drastic chances) but as a presenter, when you are competing with a train-wreck that everyone loves to hate or loves to love, Schultz was not the compelling story of 2019. He likely sold a few copies of his book however. By taking firm stances, he only subtracted from the coalition in his campaign, the triangulation trap being what it is. Saying that unions aren’t the answer to most companies he says, the management needs to do right by their employees. Don’t tell the teacher’s union of America. He was also saying the Democratic party was garbage, but then didn’t really show up with anything other than the line that he was the centrist candidate to steal votes from Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee. Ultimately, his talking points are simply a centric Democrat in the Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar lane…If he had played in that arena, he might be president today. Not to say that would be how he would want to win…

TRUMP: How To Get Rich

TRUMP: How to Get Rich by Donald J. Trump

Business Rule #1:

If you don’t tell others about your success, they probably won’t know about it. The Art of the Deal was a best seller, selling 3 million copies. Trump doesn’t do it all for the money, BUT money makes dreams possible. Trump is a billionaire author with a hit prime time television series called The Apprentice.

Business Rule #2:

Keep it short, fast and succinct.

Part 1: Donald J. Trump School of Business & Management

Trump has 20,000 employees and running a business is like being a general. Your employees’ lives are dependent on you and your decisions. Be careful when choosing new employees. Don’t get mediocre people. Attitude is important. Have people around you that you can trust. All of Trump’s senior officials are trusted people. Sometimes your employees need a jolt or they need to be cajouled. Cater your inspiration to the specific worker you’re dealing with.


The Late 80s, Trump lacked attention to his business, he loved Fashion shows and beautiful women. The real-estate market crashed in the late 1980s almost runined Trump. A begger on the street was worth 9.2 Billion dollars more than Trump was in 1989…Forbes was very pleased with Trump’s crisis. Fortunately, Trump has allies in the banks, at 3am Trump walked to CitiBank. He phoned Japanese, Austrian banks. Trump personally guaranteed a billion dollars. Trump suggests that you never guarantee anything in life.

MAINTAIN YOUR MOMENTUM: don’t marry the wrong women, don’t retire from you business. Mr. Levitt lost his momentum. He left the world of business for 20 years. No matter how much you think you know your business, you need to be re-trainned regularly. Whatever you are managing, don’t assume you can glide by without constantly refreshing your knowledge.

Part 2: Career Advice from Donald Trump TAKE CONTROL OF THE INTERVIEW:

First impressions are deceptive. Don’t always assume that the boss will hire with a great interview. People are looking for a skilled intelligent person.


Don’t ask the boss on the worst possible day. If everyone is down do not ever ask for more money. You should seriously consider asking for a raise on a sunny beautiful day.


Trump is building Trump Place. It is an example of why tenacity is a good move. He has been trying to build this for 30 years. Trump built a golf club: Trump International golf club. Trump is extremely supportive of golf courses. People with passion will never give. It is a momentum that will make you indominable. Some people should stay out of business. If they aren’t passionate then they should move onwards to something else. Don’t do something you don’t like for a living.

Turn your passion into profit.



Brand names are a way of holding standards. Who is going to eat a No Name brand hamburger? Who would you sue? The name is crucial. We all know the power of brand names. It is a viable outlet for creativity. Becoming a brand name is an excellent thing. An unknown developer is not going to be successful. The problem with brand names, the media will take a shot at you. Don’t be afraid to brag a bit. Toot your own horn. Celebrate your successes.

It’s not personal, it’s business.


Have some instincts, and follow them. You need to gain strong business instincts. Trump knew within seconds that Mark Burnett was going to make The Apprentice excellent. Our conscious minds are useful but the unconscious tendencies will be crucial for decision-making. Learn to read people’s gut reaction.


Don’t be surprised. Be prepared for problems. Always be optimistic publicly but anticipate the horrors of failure.


Know all about what you are getting yourself into. You need to equivocate in politics which is the significant problem with transferring from business to politics. This is why Trump decided not to run for the Reform Party in 2004. You need to be blunt in business.

Donald Trump’s Rules for Public Speaking


• Be prepared by reading.

• Have examples and references.

• Make anecdotes as vivid as possible.

• Don’t read a speech: it will be boring.

• You need to cover your bases mentally.

• Be a good story teller.

• Involve everyone. Tune people in.

• Story Telling is a skill.

• Learn to think on your feet be flexible.

• Be aware of the common denominator.

• Keep it all in perspective.

1. Think about your audience first

2. Get your audience involved.

3. Be prepared

4. Be a good story teller

5. Be aware of the common denominator.

6. Be an entertainer.

7. Be able to laugh at yourself

8. Think on your feet

9. Listen

10. Have a good time.

11. Study Regis Philbin


Negativity is a form of fear. Don’t fear the problem. You need to start thinking positively or you will sabotage yourself. If you have received a lot of hard knocks. Don’t open the door to more knocks. Hard knocks are an insight into more trouble. Think about how more fortunate you already are. You can always better you best day. Engage in positive thinking and have a little blind faith.

Change your attitude and gain some altitude.


Children with handicaps seem to fight for everyday they have been given. When you’re down another day can be another chance. Keep going, keep on trucking. Feed yourself some positive thoughts. Certain people keep going because they stay positive. Lincoln had a lot of faith, he didn’t receive much encouragement. Some people are losers unfortunately, they’re attitude is so low that they are below sea-level.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein


People become persona’s that they forward in public. In private we are very different people, according to Jung…By not assuming an EGO, you will defeat you opponent…


It is the centre of our consciousness. Get an EGO, Get a LIFE. No EGO means very little life force. Strive for wholeness. Knowledge is power. Your mind can build castles but make sure the foundation is in place first.

PART 3: Money, Money, Money


Beware of instant stars in the world of finance. Trust the people who are successful consistently. Invest simply, don’t take unnecessary risks. Some people have extremely complicated explanations for market trends BUT Warren Buffet knows how to break it down simply. Invest with companies you understand.

Donald and Ivana Trump (Photo by Bob Sacha/Corbis via Getty Images)


People have a right to protect their assets. Don’t let a women trick you into not signing a prenuptial. Ivana’s lawyers were extremely vicious but we signed a prenuptial agreement. There is nothing wrong with common sense.


You need to be direct with people and meet them directly. Lawyers will try to get rich by churning billable hours. Go right to the top and get something done. Whenever possible settle, it saves a lot of time.


Money is extremely serious. The sooner you understand the value of money, the better. Don’t be careless with money. Children learn from what they see. If you enjoy gambling, your kids will like gambling too. Don’t have goof-off kids. You cannot enter the financial world without understanding money.

PART 4: The Secrets of Negotiation

“If you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”


It’s all about persuasion, not power. Just because you are successful doesn’t mean you have to act like a bulldozer. You don’t need to coerce people into following you. Power is not just about calling the shots. It’s about ability. No one will take notice if you call bad shots. Know what you’re doing: convincing others. Study the art of persuasion. Don’t expect people to believe your bullshit. Give people analogies, if you go to far over their heads they will be upset. Use humour and you will be successful. We all need to have a healthy dose of confidence. Don’t bulldoze. There is a fine line between acceptance and resignation. Don’t brow beat them into believing you. Let them think they are in control. He Who has the Gold Makes the Rules: let the others talk and observe your body language. Most negotiations should be calm. The best negotiators are chameleons. Learn the value of saying “NO”. Know what they want from you.


The Kinson group, that Trump was doing business with, had no idea about renovations in 1995. Kinson was failing at renovating 40 Wall Street. Trump wanted a restructure ground lease. The Kinson family wanted out fast and Trump knew it. 40 Wall Street was bought by Trump. If you want the truth, you should try to get direct contact with the decision makers. Trump made a deal where that the lease would need quality tenants + no fees during the renovations. In the mid-1990s, Trump was able to make a great deal from 40 Wall Street. Trump knew what the other side was thinking. Afterwards, the market started working in his favour in 1995. Trump won big.


40 Wall Street had tenancy and a vacant building. Trump was asked to pay the broker 60 G per month as a retainer because the broker had no faith in Trumps abilities to make the property viable again. The broker was inflexible and Trump fired him. A new broker came in and made millions.


The depressed market for office tenants made it suggestable to rent out to a residential conversion of 40 Wall Street. Trump believed it would be a private office building location. They decided to have the building turned into 3 sectors. They turned the top 700,000 Square feet into boutiques who wanted a high view. The middle 300,000 would be office buildings. Today, the building is worth hundreds of times it’s value in 1994.


Be careful about what you reveal, you will know about the contours of the deal. Trump had crucial information during negotiations. He led the people he was dealing with to believe that he was only interested in the air-rights for a Trump Tower when he wanted to buy the lease. He gained leverage by controlling knowledge and expectations.


You might learn that what you wanted was not really what you wanted. Trump assimilates new information quickly as negotiations proceed. Trump loves negotiating. There is a duality with negotiation. Before you begin negotiating, write down your objectives and their objectives. Know what you want and reveal it at the appropriate time.


Know when to be patient. One good way to make the deal accelerate is by not looking to eager for a deal. Trump would delay a deal until his opponents were getting itchy enough to settle for a lower bid. These folks waited the time to give Trump what he wanted to get. Distract the other side. In gambling, if you have no bankroll, then others will target you for obviously having much more to lose in a deal. Trump was having trouble with an impatient opponent so he threw out his false concern about the building’s history, thus delaying negotiations so that he could get his bearings.


Kofi Annan tried to stop Trump’s construction near the UN. Trump didn’t say anything critical about the UN. Trump knew that some ambassadors might want to live in Trump’s building. NY City Lawyers tried to tax the hell out of Trump’s project. Trump sued the City of New York. Trump reached a deal where he would take 17%. Trump had to support Bronx’s housing.


Go after someone who has attacked you as viciously as possible. Live by your principles. Like it says in the Bible, an eye for an eye.


It’s a jungle out there. We are worse than lion’s. Getting retribution and paranoia can be a waste of time, however. If you can dismiss a negative you should do so. Save time and focus on bettering yourself and your family. But again, sometimes you have to screw people back.

Some people deserve to be screwed back:

For example, Trump gave money to two restaurant entrepreneurs. A year later, the owners hadn’t given him a single dollar even if these owners were making a great deal of money. Trump felt that these people had screwed him out of money for his investment. Suing them would have cost a lot of time and wasted effort given how much he gave those dudes. They knew they could get away with it. But now, Trump won’t even recognize these entrepreneurs in public.

Also, Mario Cuomo was given a lot of funding from Trump during his run as governor. Then, after Cuomo was removed from office (for hiking real estate taxes) Trump wanted some help with a simple above-board request from Cuomo. Cuomo said “NO”. Trump screamed at Cuomo for being disloyal for a proper simple request.

In addition, Pete Dockings had a charmed life. Rhodes Scholar etc. Dockings wanted a Vietnam monument in New York. Trump provided over a million dollars. Trump used the best unions he could find to help build the monument. Trump did a lot of work to make the project a success. BUT Dockings took all the credit for the creation. Later, Trump wanted some help but Dockings didn’t want to help Trump for some unknown reason.

Sometimes you have to hold a grudge.


Trump disagreed with CBS’s partnership with The Miss Universe Pagent. Trump bought the CBS out of the project. Trump had to say “NO” to CBS’s tactics which were not working. Trump took control and made sure they got back to focusing on beautiful women. Trump made a new partnership with NBC. The ratings were higher than ever and Trump created a great opportunity elsewhere with NBC.


If you attack everyone, you will lose a lot of friends. Don’t attack everyone; that is foolish. You can knock some people but never everyone.