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Howard Behar

Former President of Starbucks Coffee Company North America and Starbucks Coffee International; Author; Advisor

Howard Behar presents keynotes and leads thought-provoking Q&As with large and small audiences across North America and around the world. Howard is committed to exchanging ideas and creating dialogue around the ways we lead ourselves and others in organizations today. He also addresses the role personal leadership plays in our individual lives. He speaks to corporate audiences, educational institutions, boards and governance groups, and nonprofit organizations seeking to challenge and inspire themselves.

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Travels From: Washington | Fee Range: $15,000 - $25,000

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“We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people.”

During his many years as a senior executive at Starbucks, Howard Behar helped establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. He reveals the ten principles and the memorable wisdom that guided his leadership and success—and not one of them is about coffee.

Behar starts with the idea that if you regard employees and customers as human beings, everything else will take care of itself. If you engage your staff as partners (not assets or labor costs), they will achieve results beyond what is thought possible. And if you think of your customers and communities as “the people you serve” (not sources of revenue), you’ll make a deep connection with them, and they’ll come back over and over.

Behar shares inside stories of turning points in the company’s history, as it fought to hang on to this culture while growing exponentially. He discusses the importance of knowing who you are, building trust, facing challenges, listening for the truth, taking responsibility, saying yes, and daring to dream.

These principles, literally brewed into the way Starbucks works, makes decisions, confronts problems, and creates opportunities for the future, are trusted guardrails that anyone can use to lead themselves and lead others. Behar believes that as work becomes less hierarchical, and as the world economy becomes more and more about relationships and connecting, the principles of personal leadership are more important than ever. This presentation will show you the way.


Mr. Howard Behar’s career in business spans over 50 years in consumeroriented businesses covering several
industries. He retired from Starbucks Coffee after 21 years where he led both the domestic business, as President
of North America, and was the founding President of Starbucks International. During his tenure, he participated
in the growth of the company from 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents. He served on the
Starbucks Board of Directors for 12 years before retiring.

Mr. Behar is currently a Trustee for the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and is on the advisory board of
Anthos Capital. He formerly severed as a board member for Starbucks, GAP, Shurgard, University of Washington
Foundation and IDTech to name a few. Mr. Behar is committed to the development and education of our future
leaders and has been a longtime advocate of the Servant Leadership Model. He has also authored two books on
leadership, It’s Not About the Coffee and The Magic Cup.


"Two years ago, I sat backstage and watched a ballroom full of restaurant and convenience store executives give Howard Behar a standing ovation for his keynote address. Howard was highly recommended as one of the best speakers in the country, and now I understood why. There was something different, and frankly special, about his defining success in both business and life."

Winsight Events


"Howard’s storytelling and personal leadership experiences bring his message to life in a powerful and meaningful manner. I measure success by the impact on people’s lives and leadership way of being…and Howard was extraordinarily successful. I cannot imagine future conferences without Howard delivering the message that only Howard is capable of delivering!"

Qdoba Restaurant Corp


“I wanted to snap my fingers in agreement as they do during spoken word poetry slams.” One of Howard's student's observed, “Howard wants us to put ourselves in positions where we can succeed while staying true to our authentic selves.” Howard Behar’s presentations are acts of service to everyone in the room."

University of Washington

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