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10 posts categorized "TOUGH LOVE"

October 13, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | Speed Kills

"Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time." Wall Street Journal article (Oct. 13, 2010)

This conversation of balancing speed of service with soul of service isn't a new one for Starbucks.

It's territory we've covered here many times (and its territory covered in my TOUGH LOVE screenplay about the drama surrounding a fictitious Starbucks known as Galaxy Coffee).

Just a few years ago, Starbucks closed all its North American stores to retrain its Baristas on the "Art of Espresso" in hopes of finding a better speed/soul service balance. And today, the Wall Street Journal reports Starbucks is rolling out revised drink-making procedures designed to "make stores operate more efficiently."

Seems to me the issue here is less about being efficient and more about being effective in serving better tasting drinks to customers.

Former Starbucks President Jim Alling once said, "As much as we want to meet people's desire to produce beverages quickly, we also realize that people want a smile with their drink, that they don't want to feel rushed."

If there is one lesson Starbucks has learned in its nearly 40-years of being in business, it's taste will always trump speed. Starbucks customers are paying a higher-price for a higher-quality coffee experience than can be found at a quick service restaurant (McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) People will wait for a better-tasting cup of coffee.


October 12, 2010

Reintroducing... TOUGH LOVE | paperback copy


Originally available only as a digital download, TOUGH LOVE is now available in paperback. Learn more about TOUGH LOVE from these archived posts and from

July 15, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | The Recipe for a Strong Brand

One of the more interesting scenes in the TOUGH LOVE screenplay is when Vivian Kane, Denny Williams, and John Coffey spend an afternoon talking with Galaxy Coffee customers and employees.

For Vivian, the company cheerleader who thinks Galaxy can do wrong, hearing first-hand opinions of disillusioned customers and front-line employees changed how she views Galaxy Coffee.

While enjoying beers and conversation at the Tophill Pub, Vivian and Denny start talking about the practice of branding. Vivian’s approach to building a brand is unique and steeped deep in the Galaxy Coffee culture.

Being strategies_pg77


July 13, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | No Business is Perfect

Vivian Kane is a principal character in the TOUGH LOVE screenplay. She has worked in the Galaxy Coffee marketing department for over a decade and the Galaxy Coffee company culture runs through her veins. She’s a company cheerleader all the way.

There’s a scene in TOUGH LOVE where Vivian chides a former employee, Denny Williams, for criticizing the actions of Galaxy Coffee. Denny responds back that no business is perfect and the reason he is giving the company “tough love” is because he still loves the company.

The idea of “no business is perfect” is a theme we’ve discussed before on the Brand Autopsy blog. It’s also discussed in the Marketer’s Notes section at the end of the TOUGH LOVE screenplay. Here’s a snippet from the business lessons section of the script:

#13 | Marketer's Notes -- "No business is perfect."

Let’s face it, no business is perfect. NONE. Business is a game of progress, not perfection. No business will be perfect. It's an impossibly unattainable goal. But while that goal is unattainable, the most endearing and enduring businesses seem to always aspire to reach perfection. They always make progressive steps to improve their business and how their business connects with people. Sure, they will stumble along the way. But the true measure of a company is how it recovers and forges ahead making progress along the way to overcome its mistakes.

source: Business Lesson #13 from TOUGH LOVE

July 06, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | Harvard Business Review connection

I recently read the Howard Schultz interview in the July/August issue of the Harvard Business Review. The interview details the drive, decline, and resurrection of Starbucks. It’s an informative read that touches upon many business themes dramatized in my TOUGH LOVE screenplay about “Galaxy Coffee.”

Interesting quotes from Howard Schultz and TOUGH LOVE correlations include:

“Being the CEO of a public company over the past couple of years has been difficult. And lonely.” — Howard Schultz

David Pearl, the fictitious CEO of Galaxy Coffee, experienced the same difficult feelings of loneliness as he fought to reverse the decline of Galaxy. To help overcome those feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, David, during a few pivotal scenes, recites a saying his father instilled in him as a child, “Get up. Head up. Never give up.”

“The issues of social media, digital media, and getting smart about the rules of engagement emerged as a tremendous weakness for the company.” — Howard Schultz

Similar to Starbucks, Galaxy Coffee wasn’t smart about social media. Internal memos and videos were leaked and used by detractors to belittle the company. On numerous occasions, a Galaxy Coffee Public Relations Executive failed to properly coach David Pearl on the new rules of engagement when talking to the media about the company. The result was Galaxy’s reputation suffered greatly and the company was positioned as being out-of-touch.

“Everything we did more or less worked. And that produced a level of hubris that caused us to overlook what was coming.” — Howard Schultz

Galaxy suffered the same fate of egotism and neglect. The company never knew losing and when the losses started to mount, Galaxy didn’t know how to react. Worse yet, because of hubris, Galaxy didn’t realize how disconnected the company had become with its customers and employees. Ultimately, egotism led to the decline of Galaxy Coffee. (What exactly happens to Galaxy Coffee? Gotta read the TOUGH LOVE screenplay to find out.)

“The marketplace was saying, ‘Starbucks needs to undo all these company-owned stores and franchise the system.’ That would have given us a war chest and significantly increased return on capital. It’s a good argument economically. It’s a good argument for shareholder value.” — Howard Schultz

This is exactly the argument made by activist investor Conner Langley as he amassed Galaxy stock in hopes of gaining a position on the Galaxy Board of Directors. The “Langley Plan” called for turning 1,500 Galaxy locations into franchised stores. In the end, Galaxy’s Board of Directors decided not to pursue the “Langley Plan.” Instead, Galaxy went in a different direction, which increased shareholder value much more substantially and quickly. (I can’t reveal the specific direction Galaxy chose because that would spoil the TOUGH LOVE story for you.)

June 30, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | “Hiring Somebodies”

In the TOUGH LOVE business book screenplay, there’s a scene where two former Galaxy Coffee marketers, Denny Williams and John Coffey, make an observation about the importance of front-line employees. Their observation came after visiting various Galaxy Coffee locations and noticing how some locations were energetic and others were lifeless.

Turns out the quality of the employee is the difference-maker between an energetic store and a lifeless one. It can also make the difference between a loyal customer and an infrequent customer.

Here’s what Denny and John said in the TOUGH LOVE script...


NOTE: In writing this scene, I was inspired by the following quotes...

“HR should be every company's ‘killer app.’ What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted, or moved out the door?”Jack Welch [source]

“I have yet to find a company that earned high levels of customer loyalty without first earning high levels of employee loyalty.”Frederick Reichheld [source]

“Anybody can pour a cup of coffee, rent out cars, sell pairs of jeans. Except, of course, they can’t. The [businesses] that are the best at these things take ‘anybodies’ off the street and make them their own ‘somebodies.’”Alex Frankel [source]

June 29, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | questions and answers

Over on the 800ceoread blog, Jon Mueller posted a Q&A with me about TOUGH LOVE. His questions help to connect the dots between the drama of the screenplay and the details illuminated within the storyline on starting/running an entrepreneurial venture.

Below is a snippet of the interview and for the entire interview, click here.

JON MUELLER: There is also an entrepreneurial side to the screenplay. What is the main lesson for the entrepreneurially minded you hoped to communicate through the characters?

JOHN MOORE: At Starbucks I knew a lot of smart and die-hard company loyal people like “Vivian Kane.” Vivian is a main character in TOUGH LOVE, she’s a classic company cheerleader—probably to a fault. She suppressed her entrepreneurial aspirations to take the easy way and stay at a company she secretly is losing faith in. The lesson being… gain experience and confidence at some company and then scratch your entrepreneurial itch, if you have one.

JON MUELLER: Because of the format, readers get a sense of the personal perspective of the characters. Talk a bit about one example of personal success that’s revealed in the story.

JOHN MOORE: An important storyline revolves around David Pearl, Galaxy Coffee’s charismatic CEO. Many years ago, David scratched his entrepreneurial itch to leave a string of sales jobs to eventually become the driving force behind Galaxy Coffee. The public image of David is one of confidence and competitiveness. However, the private image of David reveals his lack of self-confidence. David masks his insecurity by being revengeful and overly competitive. He will go out of his way to prove doubters wrong, even if it costs him dearly.

By the end of the story David’s life is turned upside down. What he thought was right, turned out wrong. He ends up learning, the hard way, life rewarding and business saving advice. David becomes a better man and a better businessman from all the trials he faces in leading Galaxy Coffee through its growing pains.


June 28, 2010

Pathetic Starbucks Promo Poster

In my TOUGH LOVE ebook, it’s not hard to figure out that “Galaxy Coffee” is Starbucks Coffee. So when the screenplay depicts the drive, drama, and decline of Galaxy, it’s really business commentary on the goings-on with Starbucks.

There’s a scene in TOUGH LOVE where the Galaxy CEO, David Pearl, criticizes his executive team for all their shortsighted and “off-brand” marketing ideas to kick-start sales. In his badgering, David implores the executives to “never communicate like a fast food company.”

If David Pearl were the CEO of Starbucks Coffee and not of the fictitious Galaxy Coffee, this pathetic Starbucks promo poster would rankle him.


This promo poster for mini donuts has no soul ... no emotion ... no style ... no creativity. And, it has no business being inside a Starbucks.

A soulless generic poster fits inside a run down gas station or perhaps a mom and pop Gyro shop, but not inside a Starbucks. That's my TOUGH LOVE for today.

June 23, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | a Business Book screenplay


My new business book is now published. It’s an ebook called, TOUGH LOVE: Scripting the Drive, Drama, and Decline of Galaxy Coffee.

Wait. It’s not really a book and its more than an ebook. TOUGH LOVE is actually a screenplay masquerading as a business book.

TOUGH LOVE reads just like a Hollywood screenplay with standard script format, seven main characters, and two plot lines that tell the story of how a rags-to-riches entrepreneur finds success building a company (Galaxy Coffee) to be bigger only to realize, the hard way, that smaller is better. Inserted throughout the TOUGH LOVE script are breakout business lessons and thought-provoking business advice geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.

It’s available as a .pdf download from ChangeThis ... click below to purchase.


You can learn more at; including a synopsis, character sketches, and an informative Q&A.

May 26, 2010

Introducing... TOUGH LOVE

I’ve written a new business book called, TOUGH LOVE: Scripting the Drive, Drama, and Decline of Galaxy Coffee.

Wait, that’s not correct.

TOUGH LOVE is actually a screenplay masquerading as a business book. Inserted throughout the TOUGH LOVE script are breakout business lessons and thought-provoking business advice geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.

It’s being published by ChangeThis as an ebook. *** PURCHASE DETAILS HERE ***

You can learn more at; including a synopsis, character sketches, and an informative Q&A.

To get a better idea of flow and content in TOUGH LOVE, read the script snippet below.

I hope you enjoy the oddball idea of a business book written as a screenplay.