DiscoverPlaymakers: On PurposePeople, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)
People, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)

People, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)

Update: 2022-10-19


People, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)

When defining a life, it’s all about how you treat the people you serve


“From the very beginning, I figured out almost from day one that it wasn't about coffee. It was about people, because of the people that I met, and how they talked about the coffee, and how they talked about each other.”

- Howard Behar


Howard Behar is hailed as a hero of conscious capitalism, a passionate advocate for leading with purpose, and a devoted student and teacher of the servant leadership model. Howard served for over 21 years as president of Starbucks North America, then as founding president of Starbucks International. During his tenure, he grew Starbucks from only 28 stores to over 15,000, spanning five continents.

Post-retirement, Howard has since been serving as a speaker, advisor, mentor, and bestselling author of multiple books, including "It's Not About the Coffee: A Guide to Leading by Putting People First." 

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[0:00 ] - “Caught It, Not Taught It”

The power of being led by example

Howard recalls seeing his parents treat each other and all the people they served with empathy, compassion, and respect. Simply by watching them, he formed his own values about putting people first. In life and business, we should never underestimate the power we have just by living our values and letting others witness.

[21:08 ] - Howard’s Best and Worst Decisions at Starbucks

Getting real about smart choices and bad mistakes

Howard says the best decision he ever made at Starbucks was the decision to join. If he hadn’t been prepared for that opportunity when it came, his life would have turned out very differently. 

His biggest mistakes? “Keeping somebody too long.” He says that the most damaging decisions at companies are almost always people decisions, not product decisions— proving once again that it really is all about people.

[28:56 ] - Howard Defines Servant Leadership

Putting words to the values Howard’s lived by

“As leaders, our primary job is to help people achieve what they want out of their lives, help them grow as human beings, to grow as professionals. When we do that, then they want to serve us. When we serve our people first, they innately want to serve us. They want to serve the organization because they feel respected, they feel like they’ve been treated with dignity, they feel like they’re valued, they feel like you care about them, they feel like you love them, they feel like you trust them. All the things that go on in a family.”

[52:56 ] - Marriage, Parenting & Business

The shared secret to making them all work

Howard speaks of Microsoft, and how their new leader has made them a company centered on technology to a company centered on people. Empathy and listening, just as they do in a marriage, have given Microsoft new life. The things that work in business also often work in life.

[54:57 ] - Live a Life of Intention

Howard’s parting advice

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.” Howard leaves us with the counsel to spend time figuring out what we want out of this life, writing it down, and setting goals for yourself to achieve it. That doesn’t just apply to work. What do you want out of your family? What do you want out of your marriage? What do you want out of your values? Live with intention, knowing that you can erase and rewrite any time as those values change.


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Paul Epstein may not be a hard charging running back on the actual football field, but his list of high-profile wins in the world of sports will have you thinking that he could be.

Paul has spent nearly 15 years as a pro sports executive for multiple NFL and NBA teams, a global sports agency, and the NFL league office. He’s transformed numerous NBA teams from the absolute bottom in league revenue to top-two in financial performance. He’s broken every premium revenue metric in Super Bowl history as the NFL’s sales leader. He opened a billion-dollar stadium, helped save the New Orleans NBA franchise, and founded the San Francisco 49ers Talent Academy.

He's since installed his leadership and high-performance playbook with Fortune 500 leaders, Founders and CEOs, MBAs, and professional athletes.

Now, as a global keynote speaker, #1 bestselling author, personal transformation expert, turned senior leader and advisor to PurposePoint and the Why Institute, and host of the Playmakers: On Purpose podcast, Paul explores how living and working with a focus on leadership, culture, and purpose can transform organizations and individuals anywhere to unleash their full potential.

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The Playmakers: On Purpose podcast is an all-access pass to a purpose-centered tribe of leaders in business, sports, and life who are on a mission of meaning and impact. The show takes purpose from an out of reach North Star to a practical and tactical exploration of how we can step into each day, ON PURPOSE, where life no longer happens “to us”, it begins to happen “for us”. 

From the Why Coach of the San Francisco 49ers to your coach, take a seat at the table with sports industry executive, #1 bestselling author, personal transformation expert, turned senior leader and advisor to PurposePoint and the Why Institute, Paul Epstein, in this inspiring, yet immediately actionable podcast. 

From formative stories pre-purpose to personal and professional transformation’s post-purpose, each show will share a high-energy, prescriptive blueprint to ignite impact and drive inner success, fulfillment, and purpose no matter your starting point. It’s time to meet Paul at the 50 and get ready to live and lead ON PURPOSE.

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In Detroit, history was made when Barry Gordy opened Motown Records back in 1960. More than just discovering great talent, Gordy built a systematic approach to launching superstars. His rigorous processes, technology, and development methods were the secret sauce behind legendary acts such as The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

As a nod to the past, Detroit Podcast Studios leverages modern versions of Motown’s processes to launch today’s most compelling podcasts. What Motown was to musical artists, Detroit Podcast Studios is to podcast artists today. 

With over 75 combined years of experience in content development, audio production, music scoring, storytelling, and digital marketing, Detroit Podcast Studios provides full-service development, training, and production capabilities to take podcasts from messy ideas to finely tuned hits. Here’s to making (podcast) history together.

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People, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)

People, People, People (ft. Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks)

Howard Behar, Connor Trombley, Paul Epstein, Detroit Podcast Studios