How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son Of Privilege Learns To Live Like Everyone Else

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son Of Privilege Learns To Live Like Everyone Else

by Michael Gates Gill
     
 
In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a big house in the suburbs, a loving family, and a top job at an ad agency with a six-figure salary. By the time he turned sixty, he had lost everything except his Ivy League education and his sense of entitlement. First, he was downsized at work. Next, an affair ended his twenty-year marriage. Then, he was diagnosed

Overview

In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a big house in the suburbs, a loving family, and a top job at an ad agency with a six-figure salary. By the time he turned sixty, he had lost everything except his Ivy League education and his sense of entitlement. First, he was downsized at work. Next, an affair ended his twenty-year marriage. Then, he was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor, prognosis undetermined. Around the same time, his girlfriend gave birth to a son. Gill had no money, no health insurance, and no prospects.

One day as Gill sat in a Manhattan Starbucks with his last affordable luxury—a latté—brooding about his misfortune and quickly dwindling list of options, a 28-year-old Starbucks manager named Crystal Thompson approached him, half joking, to offer him a job. With nothing to lose, he took it, and went from drinking coffee in a Brooks Brothers suit to serving it in a green uniform. For the first time in his life, Gill was a minority--the only older white guy working with a team of young African-Americans. He was forced to acknowledge his ingrained prejudices and admit to himself that, far from being beneath him, his new job was hard. And his younger coworkers, despite having half the education and twice the personal difficulties he'd ever faced, were running circles around him.

The other baristas treated Gill with respect and kindness despite his differences, and he began to feel a new emotion: gratitude. Crossing over the Starbucks bar was the beginning of a dramatic transformation that cracked his world wide open. When all of his defenses and the armor of entitlement had been stripped away, a humbler, happier and gentler manremained. One that everyone, especially Michael's kids, liked a lot better.

The backdrop to Gill's story is a nearly universal cultural phenomenon: the Starbucks experience. In How Starbucks Saved My Life, we step behind the counter of one of the world's best-known companies and discover how it all really works, who the baristas are and what they love (and hate) about their jobs. Inside Starbucks, as Crystal and Mike's friendship grows, we see what wonders can happen when we reach out across race, class, and age divisions to help a fellow human being.

Editorial Reviews

There is no denying that Michael Gill's Starbucks application was atypical. For 25 years, this 63-year-old Yale alumnus had been a creative director at the prestigious J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. The privileged son of New Yorker writer Brendan Gill had grown up amid cultural elites, rubbing elbows with James Thurber, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway, among others. But now Gill's marriage, his six-figure job, and his own business were gone, and he was seeking a job at the local coffee shop. His account of his apprenticeship in cappuccino making and race relations are instructive and ultimately ennobling.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9789571348551
Publisher:
Shi Bao Chu Ban/Tsai Fong Books
Publication date:
05/28/2008
Pages:
323
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Wayne Dyer
A great lesson in finding your highest self in the unlikeliest of places-- proof positive that there is no way to happiness-- rather, happiness is the way.
Thomas Moore
How Starbucks Saved My Life is based on the simple idea that down-to-earth, humbling labor can help you re-orient your values and priorities and give you new life. It will speak to anyone in need of radical surgery on their worldview, and that includes most of us. Sit down with a cup of coffee and this book and entertain yourself toward enlightenment. (Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, Dark Nights of the Soul, and The Worth of Our Work)
Denis Waitley
I like my Starbucks, but I loved this book. It hit me emotionally and intellectually, right in the gut. The message, what the world needs to embrace most, made my cup runneth over! (Dr. Denis Waitley, author of The Seeds of Greatness)

Meet the Author

Michael Gates Gill is the son of New Yorker writer Brendan Gill and he was a creative director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising where he was employed for over 25 years. He currently lives in New York within walking distance of the Starbucks store where he works, and has no plans to retire from what he calls the best job he's ever had.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >