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Starbucks' president brews up advice at DPU

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Starbucks U.S. President James Alling, a 1983 DePauw graduate, presents a Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture on the subject of "Growing Big, Staying Small at Starbucks."
Coffee usually inspires students at DePauw University to stay awake to get their homework done.

Starbucks U.S. President Jim Alling, a 1983 DePauw graduate, used his magnetic and compelling personality about coffee and people to inspire students in a different way this week as part of the spring Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture Series.

The crowd of students, alumni, local residents and Starbucks' employees crammed into a packed Meharry Hall to hear Alling's speech titled "Growing Big and Staying Small at Starbucks."

"I will tell you that at the core of Starbucks -- and every company should know what is at their core -- there are two things: It's coffee and it's people," said Alling. "And if you really pressed me to say you've got to pick one, I will tell you we are in the people business serving coffee."

Starbucks currently is approaching approximately 9,000 stores in the U.S. and many have attacked them for creating a brand and losing their core values. Alling argues that by focusing on people and the "in store" experience, that Starbucks is creating its own "my store" atmosphere to attack the claim that they are too big.

After explaining how Starbucks has tried to remain small and "think big," Alling went on to describe how "EQ," or emotional intelligence, is just as important as a person's IQ (intelligence quotient).

By talking to people and understanding their thoughts, Starbucks has remained close to communities.

Alling then went on to describe to students how they should look for a job and what type of job experience is worthwhile.

"What I wish for all of you students -- what I really wish for you -- is that you find work that makes you feel good, that fills you up," said Alling. "Most jobs in the world today are too small for people's spirits. Be in something that fills you up. Be in something that plays to your strengths. Be in something at the end of the day that inspires you."

Colton Krueger, class of 2010, is a management fellows student and said "the speech gave me a greater sense of Starbucks as a company and how they really look out for its people and the customer and these principles should be inherent to all businesses."

Krueger also mentioned the importance of non-verbal communication to the business model as well.

DePauw President Robert Bottoms said he was very proud to have a distinguished alumni and successful individual come and speak at DePauw.

"I think the opportunity to have some really outstanding individuals, not only successful people of DePauw but also from around the world," Bottoms said.

The series has brought several distinguished people from around the world to DePauw to speak, including Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, ice cream entrepreneurs Ben & Jerry, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

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