Starbucks Global Leadership Conference 2012

I started the month off at the Starbucks Global Leadership Conference in Houston, TX. It was a week of training, networking, connecting, and inspiration for future goals and vision with this incredible brand that is has become a home for so many.

It was incredibly rewarding to be surrounded by people from all different parts of the continent that shared my same passion, vision, ambition and struggles. I was so encouraged in my role and development as a store manager to have the opportunity to connect and engage with people who spoke my “language”.

I got to ask questions (so many questions!) and pick the brains of leadership and managers operating key stores throughout the country. I got a glimpse into the operations of the Times Square Starbucks in New York City, I made friends with a partner who engages in an inspiring level of community involvement in downtown Chicago, I connected with my old team from Fort Worth, TX (where I started) who holds the store with the country’s fastest Drive-Thru in their district!

I learned how to develop my coaching skills and partner with my team through clear communication and effective problem solving. I was inspired to think bigger and higher about my partners, customers and business. It was absolutely incredible, participating in a coffee tasting with 10,000+ managers in Houston’s Toyota Center, hearing the story of our company and the amazing transformation that took place following the 2008 economic collapse and realizing that, growing up with the company, I’ve played a part in it all.

They had this giant expo room set apart for us to tour.
There was our company’s timeline where you could see key events that defined us and contributed to our success.

There were little tiny coffee trees growing in the area where you would be introduced, in a more real way than ever before, to our coffee’s growing and processing methods. This is where I got to see the steps of the roasting process and bite into a freshly roasted bean from Guatemala just moments after it left the roaster – there’s nothing like it!

You’d continue through the expo and walk into this palace-inspired station with ambient lighting and rich textiles. Through a curtain you’d see a table lined with all of the ingredients we use in the Tazo teas we serve in our stores. One of the store managers from the Mall of America toured this area with me. We didn’t just smell the ingredients but we TASTED them! I tried pure anise, hibiscus, lavender, clove and a bunch of other herbs and spices that make our teas so beautiful. It was quite the experience!

We went on to meet the founder of Naked Juice, Jimmy Rosenberg, who is also the founder of Evolution Fresh; the producers of a super-premium juice company that uses a new form of high-pressure pasteurization equipment allowing the juice to be raw, going from tree to juice in less than 7 days, full of nutrients, and extending it’s shelf-life. After being bought out by Starbucks in 2011 we’ve started to open Evolution Fresh stores around the country with our first two in Washington and our third in San Francisco. I keep telling my boss that my dream to manage an Evolution Fresh store!

From there we walked through a station that celebrated other retailers who were known for their exemplary customer service like Nordstrom and Harley Davidson. We walked away with competitive ideas that we could implement within our organization.

Did I mention that all of this was strategically and beautifully designed and executed? They even had a place where you could get a cup of coffee and take some time to relax and watch a coffee-related video!

We rounded the corner to a station that introduced us to the partnership we made with La Boulange, a San Francisco native bakery that started off as one little shop and exploded into one of twenty in the area. We got to see the new food line up, nutritional content, and visibility to all of the ingredients that would be used. I must say, I am SO excited for the competitive (and nutritional!) edge this will bring us as we update our food platform with an artisan focus!

As we continued through the expo there was a station that allowed you to voice your concerns and opportunities that you face in the store, there was a customer-focused area that highlighted the stories of the individuals that walk into our stores every day and there was an area at the very end that gave you the opportunity to make your commitment; after seeing everything, what would you commit to do, moving forward?

It was like a Disney World for the Starbucks partner!

I couldn’t get over how beautiful and inspiring this was! To think that people took the time and resources to execute this, investing in our sustained passion and development was humbling and so appreciated.

Aside from all of the learning we also had plenty of time to spend with our peers from our local district. We intentionally made time to connect, inspire, share, and learn throughout the week and I know that for many districts, that alone will prove to be a valuable return on investment.

At the end of the week I got to have lunch with my sister and a private concert with Alicia Keys before they closed off a part of downtown for our own private version of a state fair complete with food trucks and vendors from all around the state.

This was such a delightful and memorable time in my history with Starbucks! I’m excited to see how the inspiration translates into sustainable growth in my development and in my store.

I love to be a life-long learner.

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