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    On this episode of Love in Action, we have Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks International. During his tenure, Howard grew the coffee company from 28 stores to over 15,000 locations, and he’s the author of It’s Not About The Coffee and The Magic Cup. Today we’re talking about servant leadership, how to lead with love, and the power of putting people and values first.

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    Show Notes

    “The Magic Cup”

    The core message of the book is that, as a leader, you need to be focused on what your values are. Live up to those values no matter what your fears are, and get back on track if you ever lose your way.

    We all have a magic cup, and the cup represents your life. What you put into your cup is what you get out of it, so do we fill it with greed and ambition? Or are we going to fill it with the things we do to help others?

    Servant leadership

    Our primary responsibility in life no matter what we do is to serve others. And sometimes leaders forget that. The goal of any leader should be to help his or her people achieve what they want in their lives, and in so doing, have the people help you achieve what you want in your organization. But you have to serve your people first. You have to give love before you get love. You have to give trust before you get trust.

    Some people think servant leadership is “too soft” and it’s just “being nice.” It’s anything but that. It’s still about holding people accountable for their performance, but doing it in a way that builds people up instead of tearing them down. It’s loving, caring, directing conversations, holding each other accountable, and achieving results.

    As an example, Howard shares the story of Jim and the daily messages on his cups of coffee — and how something so small can mean so much.

    Love in business

    When we talk about love, we’re not talking about the same kind of love you might have for your spouse or children. We’re talking about the love that we give to all human beings because they’re human beings.

    People lead with fear in the workplace, most likely because they’ve never been loved. That’s how they’ve been treated. They learned that yelling, screaming, and blaming are what get people motivated, and if they create fear in their team, people will produce results. That’s certainly something that can happen in the short term. But over the long term? Impossible.

    Changing our workplace cultures

    The first step is to have a leader who wants to be a servant leader. It’s not an overnight process. You have to practice. You have to allow people to hold you accountable. You have to hold yourself accountable. Change yourself first before changing your organization.


    Know who you are, know what your values are, live your life by those values, and understand that in order to have a productive, fulfilling life, you have to learn to serve yourself first, and then serve others. It’s not about being greedy. It’s about being okay with you. If you’re not okay with you, you can’t be okay with others.


    Howard Behar (LinkedIn)



    It’s Not About The Coffee

    The Magic Cup


    About Marcel Schwantes

    Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique aimed at developing great leaders and great cultures through Servant Leadership.

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