HR Management & Compliance

How Starbucks Saved My Life

Review of How Starbucks Saved My Life

Employment law attorney Michael Maslanka reviews the book How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. Review highlight’s some of the books lessons about how Gates’ perspective changed after he worked “on the other side of the counter.”

Gill was a top dog at a big ad firm with lots of “do-re-mi” and perks. He got bounced in his mid 50’s (sounds like age disrimination), starts his own business, gets a girlfriend, a new baby, and an ex-wife in that order, and ends up broke. He goes to work at Starbucks for a young black woman and a diverse lot of coworkers. And here’s the arc of the book How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else — he now sees the world from the other side of the counter.

Big Lesson: There is no right or wrong side of the counter. Understand the talent and hard work it takes to be a service employee. Don’t think that just being polite (as he was) is the same thing. It isn’t.

What I believed: The writer is at his best when he talks about how he was afraid of handling the register. Terrified. I know I’d be the same way.

What I did not believe: His belief that Starbucks saved his life. He thought the ad agency did that for him, and see what happened? Also Tom Hanks is going to make a movie of this. Makes you wonder, you know?

Still, it’s not a bad book.

Michael Maslanka is the managing partner of Ford & Harrison LLP’s Dallas, Texas, office. He has 20 years of experience in litigation and trial of employment law cases and has served as Adjunct Counsel to a Fortune 10 company where he provided multi-state counseling on employment matters. He has also served as a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

Mike is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Magazine in 2003. He was also selected as one of the best lawyers in Dallas by “D” Magazine in 2003. Mike has served as the Chief Author and Editor of the Texas Employment Law Letter since 1990. He also authors the “Work Matters” column for Texas Lawyer.

1 thought on “How Starbucks Saved My Life”

  1. We all need something to believe in. If Starbucks was it for him, that’s great. I cant wait to read the book. Starbucks saves my life at least 3 times a week when I allow myself to spend 5 bucks on a Venti Non-Fat Chai Tea Latte! It doesn’t get any better than that!

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