Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down — here’s his incredible rags-to-riches story

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Starbucks announced Thursday that its CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down next year. Schultz will be appointed executive chairman and and Kevin Johnson, the company's current president and COO, will assume the CEO position April 3.

Schultz got into the coffee business 30 years ago with one goal in mind: to enhance the personal relationship between people and their coffee.

He's now responsible for Starbucks, one of the world's most beloved brands and the largest coffee chain on the planet, with a market capitalization of $84 billion as of December. Last year, Starbucks' profits reached $2.8 billion on revenues of $19 billion, both record highs.

But Schultz hasn't been singularly focused on the traditional bottom line. He's a dynamic model of a progressive CEO who's as animated by social issues and employee welfare as he is profit margins. In fact, in a letter to employees in October, Schultz announced wage raises ranging from 5% to 15% for all US employees. The wage hike reinforces Schultz's longstanding commitment to investing in his employees' success, and it positions Starbucks as a key player in the biggest economic story in America today.

How did Schultz, who came from a "working poor" family in the Brooklyn projects, overcome adversity and grow a quaint Seattle coffeehouse into the world's largest coffee chain and a model for conscious capitalism?

Scroll through to learn the story behind Starbucks and the man responsible for much of its success.

Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that growing up in the projects — "loosely described as the other side of the tracks" — exposed him to the world's wealth disparity.


Source: Bloomberg

He experienced poverty at an early age. When Schultz was seven years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, his father had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"

In high school, Schultz played football and earned an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. But by the time he started college, he decided he wasn't going to play football after all.

AP/Elaine Thompson

To pay for school, the communications major took out student loans and took up various jobs, including working as a bartender and even occasionally selling his blood.

Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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