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Four months after becoming an ad industry recession stat last year, I found myself in a job that was in many ways far better and more fulfilling than my last. I'm making less money now, and I'm in a less senior position. But instead of my work being used to sell cars, computers or potato chips, it's being used to help nonprofit clients become better agents of social change. This recession has helped me reexamine what's important to me, and rediscover some things I'd lost. Now I just keep finding more.

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JANUARY 30, 2009 10:41AM

I love Howard Schultz

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picture-131Today I’m going out to buy a Starbucks. Yes, I know I was just questioning a buy-less approach to sustainability versus a buy-more approach to economic recovery. But today I’m siding with recovery.

Why? Because today I’m in love with Howard Schultz.

The Starbucks CEO has decided to take a whopping salary cut, reducing his wage to just under $10,000, the minimum needed for him to still qualify for company health insurance. And yes, I know that his salary just a year ago was 1.2 million dollars.

And I also know that Starbucks is a brand people love to kick for all kinds of reasons, from over-priced cups of coffee to their ubiquitous presence in neighborhoods to indulging self-important customized orders with 8-name descriptors.

But, hell, Shultz is the only CEO of a large brand that I’ve heard of who is putting his money back into his company by taking next-to-none out right now for himself. The company announced significant lay-offs at the same time, which is never easy for those affected. But through his action, Schultz has acknowledged what all of us peons have been thinking: don’t those big-brand executives have enough personal funds right this very second to live ultra-comfortably for several years without touching a dime of their company’s operating budgets?

Shultz’s decision is all the more remarkable in the context of comments from Barak Obama yesterday. On Thursday, President Obama lambasted self-serving executives, labeling the actions of Wall Street bankers shameful for continuing to give themselves generous bonuses – to the tune of $20 billion -- at the same time they were taking bail outs and the economy was tanking.

So say what you want about Starbucks prices, or the fact they call a medium cup of coffee a grande, Shultz set a standard for others at the top. Others should follow his non-fat extra-light no-foam example.


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Well, they did mention his stock options still get him about 12 million a year!

Even so, pretty cool dude. I love Starbucks because I don't like drunk people, and Starbucks is the only community gathering place that isn't either a church or a bar.

I also love Fred Smith, who laid down the pay cuts at Fed Ex on a sliding scale, with himself taking the largest and the lowest paid taking the smallest.
On the flip side Exon had another record breaking year. They now have made more money in profit than any other company ever for the second time in a row. Their profit is greater than the GNP of most 3rd world countries. How did we as a people ever allow greed to become cool? When did we sell our souls for foreign cars and McMansions? If you have ever seen remember the Titans there is a line that I love. The captain of the football team tells one of his players that he is tired of his attitude. The other player states, "Attitude reflects leadership."
Allie -- I think there should be a wall of fame for all those C-level execs who actually lay it on the line. People like Schultz and Fred Smith should be paraded out to make all others ashamed :)

(And I hear you about the stock options -- every exec has those but at least they don't come out of an operating budget. Plus they won't mean anything if the company coffers continued to be plundered like the wall street pirates>)