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How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Nice Read!

    While slow at times, the Writer does a nice job of demonstrating how enriched his life was and how (on a different level), how enriched it becomes. With his flashbacks, annoying at times, he really let's the reader get into his head. Overall I enjoyed this book and would love to work at a Starbucks after reading it ;)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Fast read with lots to think about

    OK, I am a Starbuck's nut. I go to Starbuck's every day I can. It's not just the coffee (double tall, extra foamy latte in the morning and/or grande coffee light frappucino, add a shot of espresso, in the afternoon), it's about the whole experience. A place that feels like mine, getting to know the staff, the whole gestalt. So what I may have enjoyed most about the book is the whole Starbuck's story about training and staffing and how a good manager builds a team and makes her particular store such a go-to venue for her customers. It may also be that I spent many years in the advertising business, like the author/main character, and really get what he's talking about. But it's also a story about life turned upside down and how to survive, even grow, in an entirely new place. I'll admit that I was wary of the story of a high level ad exec falling so far as to have to take a job as a trainee barista at Starbuck's. It didn't seem that the ego of the former could ever accept being the latter. But he convinced me that he really could be happy in this new world and that he was a better person for it. I still wonder how long he will last at it (until after the film is done perhaps?) But I don't doubt at all that he is now and will always be a very different person from the one he used to be. And now when I go to Starbuck's, I look with much more interest at the employees, their behavior and attitudes, and how it all relates to me. The book is in that sense a primer on growing and managing a good customer-driven business. And, for some people, how to accept who you really are and what you really should be doing with your life. It's a fast read, an easy read, and you just may stop and think a bit about what he has to say.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed this book about a man born into privilege that ends up

    I enjoyed this book about a man born into privilege that ends up losing almost everything and then goes to work at Starbucks. I always like 'behind-the-scenes' tidbits of places I visit. In fact, last night Allyson and I went to Starbucks and I noticed the "Partner of the Month" sign. Starbucks calls their employees 'Partners', so that was fun. The book was a quick, easy read. The only thing that bugged me was the constant name-dropping, that I could have done without. One thing the author said that I really liked was "I had sought to give me comfort, and which had failed me so miserably when things went wrong....Now, I told myself, with a growing courage, I had found with Starbucks a better reality ... not based on external status symbols but on a real feeling of confidence and support and genuine affection and even admiration for and from the Partners and the Guests." This book is being made into a movie with Tom Hanks, due out in 2012.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    Enjoyable book, not great, just good

    This man, Michael Gates Gill, lost his prestigious, high-paying job and tried to set up his own business. When that eventually failed, he ran out of options and went to work at Starbuck's, primarily because he needed the health benefits. He wound up loving the job. He writes mainly about his experiences working there, but also drops in a lot of tidbits about his former privileged life and the famous people he encountered along the way. He praises Starbucks all throughout the book. However, he offers no insight into the difficulties of making a real living on a Starbuck's salary. Its not a great literary work, just an enjoyable book to read with a cup of coffee on a rainy day.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    There but for the grace...

    This could happen to anyone; a big game changer at midlife and the loss of most things held dear. I am stunned by Michael Gates Gill's courage in taking on such a seemingly low status job after his big career in advertising; how he relates to his co-workers, especially his manager, and how hard he works to achieve success as a good man Friday at this Starbucks. There are lessons to be learned from this inspiring man and I left the book wishing I could sit down and talk with him more about his experience. Well written, cheerful, insightful; I highly recommend this to lovers of those who survive life's big changes, who appreciate corporations who respect their workers, and a good cup of coffee.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010


    I am only 1/3 of the way through this book, but I already really like it. Although written in simple language, that should not undermine the messages and introspection written in this memoir. You will be taken on a very interesting journey through the author's upbringing and recent revelations. Good for discussing in a book club or with fellow New Yorkers.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Riches To Rags

    How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live

    Like Everyone Else is a true story of Michael Gates Gill, a then

    successful man at a large company called JWT. He had the gorgeous wife,

    kids, the high paying job and the huge house. Until one day when he heard

    those words, "We have to let you go", that changed his life forever. He

    later finds out that he has a brain tumor and is forced to get a job at

    Starbucks to pay for his medical bills and support his children. Michael

    Gates' story is a true eye-opener to how people can see so closed minded

    until they are actually put into a situation where they are forced to

    open their eyes and wake up. I believe Michael wrote the book to get a

    certain message across to readers; the message that ignorance is not

    bliss. I especially enjoyed How Starbucks Saved My Life because it was

    the true struggles of a man living in New York City and it shows how

    people can truly have that life changing experience, whether it be good

    or bad at times. I was also particularly fond of how Michael wrote the

    book; it was an easy read and flowed nicely. He used great imagery and

    the way it was narrated made for great detail. I truly did not have any

    dislikes with the book. The characters, setting, and writing style were

    all very intriguing. I believe the book was written successfully and I

    think that it is due to the fact that it was non-fiction and came from

    the author's heart and experiences. I have not read, but would recommend

    the book How To Save Your Own Life also by Michael Gates Gill. I usually

    would never recommend a book I have never read, but based on the author

    and how great this book was I trust that it would also be a great read. I

    would easily give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely

    recommend this book to anyone from high school ages to any adult. The

    reasoning for not recommending the book to anyone younger than high

    school would only be because they might not understand the struggle and

    economic issues and why they are so detrimental to Michael's life. How

    Starbucks Saved My Life is a true "riches to rags" story of a man who

    thought he had it all.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Great read!

    Very inspirational and thought provoking. It would make a great graduation gift for anyone. People of all ages will enjoy, but I would make it required reading for college seniors!

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Nice Story, a little cheesey, but a good, easy read.

    Good story--- I enjoyed the book. He gets a little repetative with the humility and gratitude, I got the gist after the first several times, then it became trite and larger than life. But overall a nice feel-good book.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Michael Gates Gill meets the real world.

    This is a surprisingly engaging story. And one that many could benefit from reading for confirmation of self and support for life change. Michael becomes an endearing person as he sorts out his life and his future.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    Inspirational Read

    The book How Starbucks Saved My Life is a memoir that is hard to put down. This is a story of a man named Michael Gates Gill who was a son of privilege. Michael got whatever he wanted and was given many opportunities of success because of where he came from and who is family was. Michael was very successful, but took too many things for granted and when his career at a top advertising firm ended because of his old age, he didn't have anything to fall back on. He became an old man who drove much of his family away and didn't have a job or much money saved up.
    From here, this story becomes a tale of growth and redemption. He is given a chance to start over and tries to make the best of it at Starbucks. Michael is given a job at a Starbucks by fate, and grows at this store by working with different types of people he used to classify and judge, but now realizes are just people like him, no better or worse. He gains a new perspective on life, one that actually makes him happy and benefits him in the end. This book is all about second chances, finding hope, finding happiness, and going towards the future instead of looking at the past. How Starbucks Saved My Life is definitely an encouraging book that everyone should read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    An Easy Read filled with wonderful anecdotes!!

    I decided to read this book because I myself am a barista at Starbucks and was, at the time, feeling a little down in my career at Starbucks. I was really stressed out and didn't know if I could balance school and work. I picked up this book looking for some inspiration and I think I got it, in a way! It made me realize how much I LOVE my job. Yet, it also made me realize that I can't dwell on the past! I have to move on to newer and exciting things. Since reading the book, I have decided to leave Starbucks. It has been a great experience and I wouldn't change a thing. This book made me smile at my past and dream of my future. I highly recommend for other Starbucks employees. Even if you don't work at Starbucks- it's still a good read that can be applied to many people's lives. READ THIS =)

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  • Posted March 23, 2009


    It was great to see that he is a "real" person. It was a great read for me at this time, when jobs seem so unstable. It also helped me understand a little better what my parents are talking about, regarding the workforce, and prejudices for their age. The one thing that I loved most was that he spoke on his insecurities with other groups (class/race) and how he could come to terms with them. I hope it helps others. After reading this, minus the bathroom cleaning... I want a job at Star Bucks!!!! Great Book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    Having worked in the same profession for 30 year, I occasionally wonder what it would be like to do something entirely different, like working at Starbucks. I thoroughly enjoyed following the author's journey as he starts his entirely new career. His uneasiness at the cash register, his admiration for his young boss, his eventual love for his coworkers, his pride and improved quality of life compared to his previous executive jobs are all richly detailed and sympathetic. Though the style may occasionally be awkward, the book is always warm and enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    More than just a latte.

    A humbling journey of roads less taken in life, this book is a wonderful memoir of an Upper East Side executive who suddenly finds himself donning a green apron and living a fuller life, albeit sacrificing the material 'haves' in life. As it is difficult to appreciate the things and people we have when we actually have them, and more still to treat others with the respect and dignity that they so often deserve, this book offers insight on living with second chances and renewed opportunities. Gill does a great job at highlighting what makes Starbucks so unique and special to its community, and shows us why that certain little coffee store on every block of every street gives us a little more than that needed triple shot lattes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2007

    A different view

    I never felt sorry for the writer as he drops from the high atmosphere of advertising to join the common folk serving up your java. Instead I grew to like the employees he joined behind the counter. I commend him for being so forthright in telling of his privileged life prior to Starbucks but I also shook my head as to just how removed, naive and may I say dumb he was in living his everyday life. It's a good quick read and the reader will appreciate the job everyday folks do.

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    Posted March 12, 2011

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    Posted June 1, 2010

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    Posted December 17, 2008

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    Posted May 25, 2010

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