I am reading Howard Schultz’s Onwards.  Schultz is the founder of Starbucks and Onwards is the story of Starbucks post 2007. I loved Starbucks right from the time I first had a ‘Starbucks experience’ and that was deepened with the reading of a couple of books on the Starbucks story, including Schultz’s account. I love who they are, what they stand for and of course their white chocolate mocha (no cream), 2% milk, grande! Yes please!

“So what?” you may well be asking at this point (whilst quite possibly rushing off to brew  a quick cuppa). Stay with me here…and making that coffee might not be a bad idea, as I would like to invite you to not only read this but to spend a few minutes thinking about it and perhaps exploring your response – whatever that might be.

Writing an ‘open letter’ to TomorrowToday has been on my mind for some time but I have been waiting for the ‘story’ (message) to ‘find me’ before doing so.  I have come to learn and trust this process of allowing the story to find you rather than to go off searching in hidden places and trying to find something that isn’t ready to be found! We are all busy and have lots to read and I don’t want to add more noise to an already noisy world! However, given the nature and reality of TomorrowToday, I do think that there is the need for such a communication from time to time. So please indulge me if you will.

The following is what served as the ‘trigger’ for this communication. Schultz writes:

When we love something, emotion often drives our actions. This is the gift and the challenge entrepreneurs face every day. The companies we dream of and build from scratch are part of us and intensely personal. They are our families. Our lives.

But the entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Yes, the highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling. But the lows can break your heart. Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable.”

When I read this I immediately thought of Tomorrowtoday. Our business environment has never been the easiest to be at home in – for some it has been a greater adjustment than for others but it is certainly entrepreneurial and embodies much of what Schultz describes of Starbucks.

Work should be personal. For all of us. It needs to have meaning and the meaning does not emanate from what we do – but rather meaning is something that we bring with us to that which we do.  It is a subtle but important distinction. It places the responsibility for meaning not on the ‘what’ but on the attitude with which we approach the ‘what’.

Creating an engaging, respectful, trusting workplace culture is not the result of any one thing…although it can be destroyed by one thing. It’s a combination of intent, process and heart – and these things must be constantly fine-tuned.

A well-built brand is the culmination of intangibles that do not directly flow to the revenue or profitability of the company, but contribute to its texture. Forsaking them can take a subtle, collective toll.  In TomorrowToday we haven’t always got this right and at times have been successful in spite of ourselves. I would like to think that at our present time we are closer to ‘doing this right’ than on many previous occasions along our TT journey. For that ‘we’ have you to thank. I also believe that we have more work to do and that we cannot be complacent. But, if we get this area ever better, the rest will follow. Naïve? Maybe, but I really do believe this. It is a little along the lines of ‘if we build it, they will come’ (from Field of Dreams). Or, to put it in a little more of a business context: Culture eats strategy for breakfast every day.

We have made significant strides in our TT culture from not too long ago. We need to keep going. If we can harness the current opportunities we have and be smart about how we do this, there is really no limit to what we can achieve together. TT is now owned by more people than ever before – it is a significant shift in our business model.  We have better IP than at any time in our past; better channels to market in an ever increasing market, and greater credibility and influence than at any time in our history. We survived the greatest economic downturn in history and have emerged with a story to tell. We have survived major loss in personnel and emerged with a story to tell.

This is ours to own, grow, take responsibility for and enjoy. I guess the converse would also hold true…it is ours to mess up! We bring different voices and gifts and I would ask that you know what these are (for you) and that you use yours well.

So please keep working hard but be sure to have fun in doing so. Say what needs to be said but do so in the right way. Dream big but know what it is you need to get done today.

Let me close this by quoting something that has gripped my thinking ever since I first heard it. It comes from perhaps one of the finest orators ever – Abe Lincoln. Did you know that his Gettysburg speech was only 242 words and lasted 2 minutes? Yet, it changed a nation and impacted on the notion of democracy everywhere. In the December of 1862, Lincoln, in addressing the US Congress said: “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Mahalo & Belum.

(Mahalo is Hawaiian for ‘thank you. Belum is an Indonesian word that carries with it the idea of ‘not yet’…keep going. If you were to check into a hotel in Indonesia and ask if there were any messages for you – rather than a curt ‘no’, the reply would be ‘belum’. Not yet. It conveys the idea of hope and a future)

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