Starbucks’ Howard Schultz on the time Steve Jobs screamed at him

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz on the time Steve Jobs screamed at him

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testifies before the U.S. Senate in 2023 to discuss employee unions across the country.
Image: Anna Moneymaker (Getty Images)

When Howard Schultz, the former chief executive officer of Starbucks, was having a hard time leading the coffee chain, he reached out to Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, for some advice.

Schultz told the Acquired podcast in an interview that during a walk with Jobs around Apple’s “infinite loop” campus, Jobs had some words of wisdom that involved making some big changes.

“I just told him all of my problems, everything that was going on, and he stopped me and he said, ‘This is what you need to do.’ He looked at me and he said, ‘You go back to Seattle and you fire everyone on your leadership team.’”

Schultz was surprised and thought that Jobs was joking. “I said, what do you mean fire? What are you talking about? Fire everybody? He said, ‘I just told you. F-ing fire all those people.’ He’s screaming at me in my face, ‘Fire all those people.’”

Schultz took Jobs’ advice and told Acquired that that’s what he would do. But in that moment, Schultz said, “I can’t fire those people. Who’s going to do the work? He said, ‘I promise you, in six months, maybe nine, they’ll all be gone.’ He was right. Except for one, the general counsel, they were all gone.”

Schultz later added that his entire team ended up leaving.

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