Longtime Starbucks International President Howard Behar is no longer with the company, but that doesn’t stop him from cleaning up the condiment stand when he drops in for his cup of coffee.
“I’m very proud,” Behar said of the company he helped build. “I’m just as protective as I’ve always been and I’m just as critical as I’ve always been. I still clean up when I go into stores and pick up papers. That’s never going to stop. I’ve been doing that my whole life. I love the place, love it. I love what it represents and I’m angry when I don’t think it represents everything that it could.”
For more than twenty years, Behar guided Starbucks, serving as president of its North American operations and of Starbucks International. When he joined Starbucks in 1989, there were only 28 stores located around Seattle. Now it’s a global phenomenon.
The ball was traveling high and to left-field at more than 90 miles per hour. Waiting there was Detroit Tigers center fielder Tyler Collins, ready to make a routine catch, something he’d done for years in Texas for his high school and college teams before being drafted and quickly rising through the minor leagues to play in the Majors.
But then Collins lost sight of the ball in the bright lights of Comerica Park. As he struggled looking skyward, the ball… hit the turf. Collins and left fielder Justin Upton scrambled to recover and threw the ball to the infield as the batter ran all the way to third base. Boos rained down on the outfielder for his error.
Then Collins showed he truly wasn’t ready for the bright lights. As fans screamed their displeasure, he turned to the crowd and raised his middle finger. He yelled obscenities back at the hecklers. Two days later he found himself in Toledo playing for the minor league Mud Hens.
Basketball fans across the nation will watch the men’s NCAA championship game on Monday but, even while I take in the conclusion of “March Madness,” my mind will be on one of the greatest coaches ever and his many lessons on leadership and mentoring.
Coach John Wooden led the UCLA Bruins to 10 national titles during his celebrated career. But Coach Wooden’s greatest legacy went far beyond the basketball court as he shaped the lives of the young men he guided to success long after they stopped playing.
Among the greatest of those men was Bill Walton who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. In his new book Back from the Dead: Searching for the Sound, Shining the Light, and Throwing it Down, Walton offers great insights on what he learned from Coach Wooden. Despite their different personalities and the generation gap that separated them, Coach Wooden and Walton remained close. Even after he left UCLA for the NBA and, later, broadcasting, Walton spoke with Coach Wooden almost every day for decades.