The Touch

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I send this to the doctor, he asked me, “Is the heart better?” Well, I think it is, because it has the brain. It will always get better, and it will always have the courage to go for what it wants without being afraid of getting hurt because and as long as it has the brain.

 

Onward:How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul-Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon

“As a business leader, my quests has never been just about winning making money; it has also been about building a great, enduring company, which has always meant trying to strike a balance between profit and social conscience.”-loc 103

“At the same time, a seismic shift in consumer behavior was under away, and people became not just more cost conscious, but also more environmentally aware, health minded, and ethically driven.” -loc 119

“That, as I’ve said, is what merchants do. We take something ordinary and infuse it with emotion and meaning, and then we tell its story over and over and over again, often without saying a word.”-loc 289

“The next time you walk by a coffee shop, peer inside. take in the variety of people in line or seated. Men and women in business attire. Parents with strollers. College students studying. High school kids joking. couples deep in conversation. Retired folks reading newspapers and talking politics. And, of course, scores of people sitting in front of laptops searching, downloading, listening, reading and writing books, blogs, business plans, resumes, letters, e-mails, instant messages, texts…whatever their hearts desire. Consider how many of those people furiously clicking away on keyboards and scribbling ideas on napkins might be working to create the next Google , Alibaba, or Facebook, or composing a novel or a piece of music. Maybe they are falling in love with someone sitting next to them. Or making friend.”-loc 296

“But beginning in the late 1990s, social responsibility also became a marketplace imperative.”-loc 392

“In 2001 Starbucks committed to purchasing one million pounds of Fairtrade certified coffee; no long after, our Faritrade purchases reached 10 million pounds, making us North America’s largest purchaser, roaster, and retailer of Fairtrade green coffee beans.”-loc 415

“A well-built brand is the culmination of intangibles that do not directly flow to the revenue or profitability of a company, but contribute to its texture. Forsaking them can take a subtle, collective toll.”-loc 483

When we went to automatic espresso machines, we solved a major problem in terms of speed of service and efficiency. At the same time, we overlooked the fact that we would remove much of the romance and theater that was in play…”-loc 491

“In my life I place enormous value on loyalty and trust. It is intrinsic to my personal relationships and to the integrity of our company’s culture, essential to how we conduct business with one another and with our customers. And while Starbucks is not perfect, nor am I, and people may disagree with some of our choices, we make it our business to uphold that trust, and we make amends if we fail.”-loc 532

“The merchant’s success depends on his or her ability to tell a story. What people see or hear or smell or do when they enter a space guides their feelings, enticing them to celebrate whatever the seller has to offer.”-loc 663

“Our answer had been to build more stores as fast as we could.
Our strategy was to do more of what had worked in the past.
But we were not pushing ourselves to do things better or differently. We were not innovating in lasting ways.”-loc 678

“But I had resisted the idea of serving hot food from day one. While I encouraged innovation, I never envisioned people coming into Starbucks for a sandwich. Many customers, however, embraced the warm breakfast sandwich, grateful for a tasty, more substantial food offering. The more popular they became, the more our baristas had to heat them in our warming ovens. And when they did, the sandwiches’ cheese will inevitably drip and then sizzle in the ovens, releasing a pungent smell. Whatever rich, hearty coffee aroma remained in the store was overwhelmed by singed Monterey Jack, mozzarella, and, most offensively, cheddar. The smell further chipped away at our narrative. Where was the magic in burnt cheese?”-loc 696

“During our conversation, he didn’t reveal any client’s confidence. I noted his discretion. There was a reason I had never heard of the firm. Being under-the-radar is part of its value.”-loc 819

“One of the decisions I made was to eventually eliminate the newly created position of chief operating office and, instead, to have Starbucks’ most senior leaders report directly to the CEO.I wanted a clear line of sight into every aspect of our operations, from supply chain to store design to everything in-between.”-loc 879

“‘We earned our respect and recognition because of one reason: the quality of our people. Thank you for all you’ve done in contributing to the success we have enjoyed. I ask that you do everything you can to support the new initiatives and help get this company back, find our voice, find our soul, and make our customers and partners proud to be associated with Starbucks.'”-loc 1114

“While most companies have access to the same high-quality arabica beans that Starbucks insists on purchasing, it is what happened to beans after they are harvested that further sets coffee companies apart from one another. No organization has the same combination of original technology and knowledge as Starbucks, and thus none can match the uniqueness and consistency of the coffees that we roast, blend, and serve on a global scale.”-loc 1439

“The project’s code name was Consistent brew.
They’d set up camp in the tasting room across from my office on the eighth floor, and through the room’s large viewing window anyone could stop and watch their trails. For two weeks, shot glasses were lined up along countertops as our tasters blended, roasted, cupped, and commented on sample after sample. Their first coffees used beans from Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra, which they roasted at a combination of temperatures to discover the perfect match between timing and heat, a relationship called the roast curve. During the first two weeks, the team created more than a dozen combination.”
Some were too tart or sour.
Others metallic or aggressive, papery or acidic.
By the end of the month, after experimenting with almost 30 recipes and roast curves, most had been eliminated.
Then, in a consumer taste test on December 3, one sample stood out as superior. Consistent Brew 19 was round, smooth, and balanced and exhibited a mild, sweet finish. Jackpot…almost. It was not yet perfect, so throughout the 2007 holiday season, right up until New Year’s Eve, the team roasted Consistent Brew 19 again and again and again.
Finally, in January 2008, they hit the mark with a flavor profile that did not abandon Starbucks’ roasting philosophy but, whether it was served black or with cream and sugar, delighted more people’s palates. The winning blend was balanced but rich in flavor.
We named it Pike Place Roast, after our first store. I thought the name should be as symbolic as the coffee. In theory as well as in flavor, Pike Place Roast was a nod to our past while embracing our future. It was one of the most transformative blends we had ever created, in part because it spoke to an audience that had yet to become part of Starbucks’ community. and we were excited to welcome them.”-loc 1484

“But there was an even more important reason that I chose to eliminate comps from our quarterly reporting. They were a dangerous enemy in the battle to transform the company. We’d had almost 200 straight months of positive comps, unheated-of momentum in retail. And as we grew at a faster clip during 2006 and 2007, maintaining that positive comp growth history drove poor business decisions that veered us away from our core.”-loc 1544

“Ensuring that communication is narrow, clear, and repetitive to set expectations wins people’s trust.”-loc 1650

“Like a doctor who measured a patient’s height and weight every year without checking blood pressure or heart rate, Starbucks was not diagnosing itself at a level of detail that would help ensure its long-term health. We predicated future success on how many stores we opened during a quarter instead of taking the time to determine whether each of those stores would, in fact, be profitable. We thought in terms of millions of customers and thousands of stores instead of one customer, one partner, and one cup of coffee at a time.
With such a mind-set, many little things dangerously slipped by unnoticed, or at least went unacknowledged. How could one imperfect cup of coffee, one unqualified manager, or one poorly located store matter when millions of cups of coffee were being served in tens of thousands of stores?
We forget that ‘ones’ add up.”-loc 1658

“In these early days, no one could predict the extent of our challenges, especially with regard to the economy. Any fear I had was overshadowed by my own enthusiasm and morning-to-night activity. As with all new beginnings-a marriage, a baby, a presidency-the inevitability of future hardship was buried by the momentum and possibility of it all.”-loc 1699

“That morning I wrapped up my remarks with this:
A week before I came back as CEO, both my children asked me, ‘Dad, why are you going back? You don’t need this.’ I told them that if I think about the two things I love in my life, it is our family and this company. There is not anything I would not do for my family, just like everyone in this room. And there is nothing I would not do for this company.
I will hold myself to the highest level of accountability. I will walk through and climb over every wall to make sure that we get to the place that we deserve…but no one in this room, including myself, can do this alone. There has never been a time in the history of the company that we needed each other more than we need each other now.“-loc 1762

“Our aspiration
To become an enduring, great company with one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world, known for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit.”-loc 1791

“Their instruction during this ‘seeing’ exercise was to consider each retail experience not as a merchant or an operator, but from the point of view of a customer. What did they witness, smell, and hear? What non verbal cues enhanced the experience?”-loc 1851

“Our partners’ attitude and action have such great potential to make our customers feel something. Delighted, maybe. Or tickled. Special. Grateful. Connected. Yet the only reason our partners can make our customers feel good is because how our partners feel about the company. Proud. Inspired. Appreciated. Cared for. Respected. Connected.”-loc 1967

“For every bottle of Ethos Water sold in our stores, five cents goes toward providing children with access to clean water. In an unprecedented move, we extended health-care coverage to thousands of part-tie workers.”-loc 1994

“Unfurling a map, they pointed to geographic regions clustered around the equator; all were endangered areas that are home to irreplaceable plant and animal life. These biodiversity ‘hot spots’ are climate change’s ground zero. The trouble is not only that these ecosystems are at risk for destruction by human deforestation, but also that the burning and clearing of forests contributes 20 percent of the world’s carbon emission-twice as much as all the world’s vehicles combined. Twice as much.
Coincidentally, these hot spots are also located in areas where farmers grow some of Starbucks’ most precious coffees….
Starbucks would re-up its partnership with Conservation International with a $7.5 million commitment over three years. In this next phase of our partnership, we would, one, measure the impact of our C.A.F.E Practices to ensure that we were making a positive difference for the people and place we intended. Two, we would link small farmers to global carbon markets. And three, we would stand shoulder to shoulder with Conservation International and more actively and vocally share our efforts.”-loc 2010

“…for a company with Starbucks’ high traffic flow, superiorly engineered semiautomatic machines provides an unmatchable level of consistency, delivering high-quality shots millions of times a day despite multiple variables-temperature, humidity, barometric pressure-that affect espresso’s quality from bean to cup.”-loc 2026

“2008…this year I intended to use the stage to rebuild confidence in our future. We would announce six new consumer-facing transformation initiatives.”-loc 2151 and the mastrena is one of them, the other five are Conservation International; the rewards card; MyStarbucksIdea.com; Pike Place Roast, and Clover

We are at what historians call an ‘open moment,’ when societies come together and real change is possible. Starbucks’ ability to reach millions of people in the market every day and connect them to the land and to the people that grow coffee is critical. Through this partnership, Starbucks is stepping up to support the well-being of farmers, protect ecosystems, and educate consumers to become part of the climate change solution-triple benefits…
we had designed o articulate our practices:’Responsibly Grown. Ethically Trade. Proudly Served.'”- loc 2211

“Compared to a year earlier, global operating income for the quarter has sunk an unbelievable 26 percent, to $178 million. Earnings were down 28 percent, to $109 million, as our operating margins shrank from 10.7 percent to 7.1 percent of net revenue.”-loc 2382

“Each Starbucks store has its own fingerprint.
At first blush, they appear and sound alike-the music, the hues, the menu-and the Starbucks you visit on vacation may feel as familiar as the Starbucks in your hometown. But it’s also true that, like any local cafe, every Starbucks is a little bit different. The reason is simple. The people.”-loc 2431

“…wherever they were, whoever they were, customers could order their coffees and espressos in more than 80,000 different combinations. During their morning commute or a midday coffee break. On a blind date or with friends. While studying for exams, reading the Sunday paper, or writing a book.
Variety-to accommodate the habits, whims, and desired of human behavior-has always been a Starbucks staple.
Our retailed partners are as diverse as the people they serve and the beverages they customize. People wearing our green aprons represent almost every race and religion. We employ twentysomethings and grandparents, single moms in need of health-care coverage, and artists in need of rent. For some, Starbucks is a stopgap gig between jobs, while others hope to build a career with the company. Whether part-timers or full-timers, Starbucks partners include high school kids saving for college, college kids in pursuit of degrees, recent grads, many in search of themselves, former executives, and people who vowed never to work in an office.
‘Behind every barista is a story,’ reads a poster hanging in the lobby of our Seattle support center. It’s true.
Amidst all the variety in each store, one individual is responsible for finding common grounds. One person is in a position to nurture a welcoming environment where everyone will feel comfortable and can connect.
The store manager.
Starbucks’ best store managers are coaches, bosses, marketers, entrepreneurs, accountants, community ambassadors, and merchants all at once. They are optimistic problem solvers who run their stores creatively yet analytically, calling upon passion and intelligence to drive customer traffic, partner loyalty, and profit. The best managers take their jobs personally, treating the store as if it is their very own.”-loc 2437

“We were closing almost 20 percent of our newest stores! We thought all we had to do was show up to be successful, I thought to myself. As I stared at the list of 600, a lesson resonated: Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me-40,000 store! – are not what matter. The only number that matters is ‘one’. One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time. We had to get back to what mattered most.”-loc 2578

“Around the world, people, myself included, were beginning to live healthier lifestyles, exercising more often and seeking our low-fat, low-sugar, and natural foods. For Starbucks, catering to this movement, which is as much socially as it is medically driven, is not only wise marketing, but also in sync with our values and or mission.”-loc 2756

“What happened? I asked myself. Had my thirst for innovation blinded me? Starbucks had once been so good at creating products that right our of the gate transformed customer behavior…
I’d brashly embraced Sorbetto as a silver bullet.
But there is no such thing.
Not growing our store count. Not new coffee blends. Not loyalty or value programs. Not healthier foods and drinks.
Yes, opportunities to transform Starbucks for profitable, sustainable growth existed everywhere, but no single move, no product, no promotion, and no individual would save the company. Our success would only be won by many. Transforming Starbucks was a complex puzzle we were trying to piece together. Where everything we did contributed to the whole. We just had to focus on the right, relevant things for our partners, for our customers, for our shareholders, and for our brand.”-loc 2801

“Our challenge was finding individuals whose accomplishments were matched by their value and an innate sense for Starbucks’ culture. This is a very fragile balance to strike, because the wrong match can pollute the integrity of the company.”-loc 2932

“…I needed to surround myself with strong talent who would bring new ideas, and with courage, challenge the old as well as challenge me.”- loc 2961

“‘Onward’ implied optimism with eyes wide open, a nerve-ending journey that honored the past while reinventing the future.
‘Onward’ meant fighting with not just heart and hope, but also intelligence and operational rigor, constantly striving to balance benevolence with accountability.
‘Onward’ was about forging ahead with steadfast belief in ourselves while putting customers’ needs first and respecting the power of competition.
Yes, everyone at Starbucks could indulge his or her passion-be it for coffee, the environment, marketing, or design- but only if we did not lose sight of the need for profits.
‘Onward’ was about getting dirty but coming out clean; balancing our responsibility to shareholders with social conscience; juggling research and finances with instinct and humanity.
And ‘onward’ described the fragile act of balancing by which Starbucks would survive our crucible and thrive beyond it. With heads held high but feet firmly planted in reality. This was how we would win.
I knew this to be true.”-loc 2976

“Every time a barista had to tell a customer, ‘Sorry, we’re out of vanilla syrup’ or ‘We didn’t receive our banana shipment so I can’t make your Vivanno,’ the fragile trust between Starbucks and our partners and between Starbucks and our customers fractured.”-loc 3053

“Fault didn’t lie with SCO’s current leaders or managers, but rather with our culture. Starbucks had a pattern of promoting talented people into new roles to stretch and develop them, even if they did not always seem to have the obvious credentials. For years that worked fine, and our people loved the opportunities, but our supply chain operations in particular had become too sophisticated to simply allow well-meaning, hardworking people to learn on the job, even if they were committed to success. SCO desperately needed specialists, not generalists.”- loc 3088

“‘I could just easily go to a 7-eleven,’ he said matter-of-factly. then he shared a conversation that he and his wide had had at their kitchen table that past weekend as they reviewed their family’s budget, just as millions of other families had been doing of late. ‘My wife asked whether I could give up my daily Starbucks.’ Standing there in the back room, he recounted his reply. ‘Let me tell you why I cannot give it up. Because it’s not about a cup of coffee. I have a tough job. I see things on a daily basis that no one should see and experience. But the one good thing I can count on every single day is how the people in that store make me feel.’ Then he addressed me directly, ‘I want to tel you about your employees. they know my kids’ names. They know where I go on vacation. They write notes on my coffee cup. I could be seventh in line and they start making my drink.’ The baristas knew he took his grande nonfat latte with two Splendas, extra hot with no foam.”-loc 3134

“After the storm, many citizens left New Orleans to live elsewhere, but those who stayed were determined to rebuild. They loved their city. In some respects, their attitude reminded me of villages in Rwanda that exuded a palpable combination of desperation and fortitude and hope and self-resilience as they tried to recover from the 1994 genocide. I knew that when Starbucks’ almost 8,000 store managers, 900 district managers, 120 regional directors, 250 international partners, dozens of senior leaders, and support staff converged on the city for a week in October, we would do much more than help ourselves. We would help the community…..
But if the week felt like a rah-rah, feel-good corporate party, it would fail.
If it was a self-indulging trade show, a tense lecture, or a boring training seminar led by talking heads, it would fail.
It had to be visceral. Interactive. Genuine. Emotional. Intelligent.”-loc 3185

“All told, Starbucks’ partners volunteered approximately 50,000 hours of time in New Orleans. It was unprecedented, and I was beyond proud. Our partners were as well. Proud of the impact we were able to make during our visit to New Orlean, as well as even a little bit prouder of the company that we had come to rebuild…..
Whenever I see someone carrying a cup of coffee from a Starbucks competitor, whether it’s an independent coffee shop or a fast-food chain, I take their decision not to come to Starbucks personally. I wonder what I, as Starbucks chairman and CEO, might have done to keep them away and what I might do to encourage them to come back or to try us for the first time. I ask myself what I can do today to win someone’s business and earn his or her loyalty.”-loc 3295

“(Bono) He speaking in our own language about the absolute necessity of companies to do well by doing good.
Some people say, ‘Come on, markets are not about morals, they are about profits.’ I say that is old thinking. That’s a false choice. The great companies will be the ones that find a way to have and hold on to their values while chasing their profits, and brand their value will converge to create a new business model that unites commerce and compassion. The heart and the wallet…. The great companies of this century will be sharp to success and at the same time sensitive to the idea that you cannot measure the true success of a company on a spreadsheet-‘”-loc 3354

“It was apparent to all of us what it meant to love something-and the responsibility that goes with it.”- loc 3428

“The ad (by BBOD) worked because it it not about Starbucks, but rather about what Starbucks is about, especially just coming out of New Orlean: community and personal responsibility.”- loc 3462

“The confluence of the beautifully conceived and executed commercial, the SNL spot, the digital marketing, and the resulting news coverage sparked conversation and store traffic. On that seminal day, Starbucks was so much more than a source of great, free coffee. We were a communal gathering place, which was, after all, what we’d set out to be.”-loc 3560

“Such deep cost analysis was a very healthy process for the company and its management. We could not control the economy, but we could exert greater control over how we operated in it-not just by reducing or freezing new spending, but also by designing a less costly operating model.”-loc 3618

“I tried, admittedly not always successfully, to keep my feelings in check when interacting with our partners. I was acutely aware of my mood’s domino effect, and first and foremost our people needed reassurance of my own confidence. That’s why the freedom I felt to be candid with Olden and trusted friends proved as psychologically beneficial as it was educational.”-loc 3666

“Much more than just the global economic landscape was changing. More than stock prices and housing values were in flux. The cultural zeitgeist was shifting beneath our feet. Habits. Priorities. Trust. Expectations. The crisis was forcing people all along the economic spectrum to come to terms with new realities and redefine how they lived in the world.”-loc 3689

Dec 3, 2008, before the Wall Street analyst conference, Howard brought Billy, an outsider from the company for a rehearsal. “This was, again, such an uncharacteristic fear for me, not to mention an unlikely scenario for the company, but my anxiety had reached a fever pitch. It had been such a long year. An endless treadmill as Starbucks planned an executed new products and events, one after the other. And we were still waiting for most to bear fruit. I had experienced such highs with the annual meeting, Pike Place Roast, and New Orleans, yet also such lows with store closures and the layoffs and Sortetto and our sinking market capitalization. Our CFO quitting at such a crucial time had put me over the edge. As 2008 drew to a close, I was simply exhausted. Physically and emotionally.
‘Howard, you have to stay the course,’ Billy reassured me with his steady tone and even a smile. ‘You have to stay true to your values and true to the company’s core. Those are your rudder now. And when the seas clam and the winds shift…and,’ he went on, ‘the seas will calm and the winds will shift, unless you believe that the economy is never coming back. Or that all along Starbucks’ value proposition and connection to its customers has been a ruse. Or that the millions of people will walking into your stores every week all over the world are kidding themselves. Now is the time to stay focused on the moves you have to make to rightsize the business, to innovate, and to return to the core. The confluence of these factors will propel Starbucks forward and will make all of today’s naysayers positive about Starbucks again. I am absolutely sure of this.’
Billy was not telling me anything I did not already believe.
But he was telling me things I needed to hear.”-loc 3753

“With my full knowledge but admittedly tempered enthusiasm, the food team continued to study the sandwich to address my complaints as well as customers’ pleas, and they discovered that improving the quality of the ingredients-leaner bacon, higher-quality ham and cheese-helped reduce the aroma. They also learned that the tang of the English muffin was partly to blame for the sharp smell, so we adjusted the recipe with our baked goods supplier and also offered more bread options, such as ciabatta. Finally, by moving cheese to the top of the sandwich to about 300’F, the cheese was less likely to burn. The result was, I had to admit, a breakfast offering that was worthy of our coffee.”-loc 3814

“In fall 2008, the retail world was on sale….
The unique challenge for Starbucks, however, was how to honor consumers’ needs for lower prices and reward our core customers’ loyalty without putting Starbucks on sale…..
Still, we had to do something for our core customers. As Costco’s Jim Sinegal had advised us earlier in the year, we could not let them slip away. Giving them value at almost any cost would be much less expensive than trying to win them back.”-loc 3822

“Going into 2009, I was insistent that Starbucks go after big, bold, original ideas, but I also appreciated that those ideas, such as Sorbetto, could not be fueled by instinct alone. they had to be relevant to our business, scalable, thoroughly tested, integrated across business channels, and embraced by our partners in Seattle and in our stores.
In short, a new idea’s execution had to be as good as the idea itself.”-loc 4056

“…instead of asking ‘why?’ I asked, in true entrepreneurial fashion, ‘Why not?’….
And while I might not have specifically articulated this back then, I sensed that Starbucks had the potential to once again create new product category so that, one day, coffee lovers who once would not have dreamed of drinking instant coffee would drink ours.”-loc 4125

“In 2006 the team developed a three-year plan, and build into their schedule was an initiative to refine one of the soluble powder forms to such a degree that it could stand on its own when mixed and stirred with hot water. In other words, JAWS was back on our R&D radar. The work, which still needed to be conducted in secret, was renamed Stardust.”-4165

“Sometimes, the earliest days of Starbucks seemed very far away.
Like straining to remember the sound of your child’s voice as a toddler as he or she heads off to college, Starbucks’ nascent days got more elusive as the company grew.
But then an old friend would pop a head into my office, or maybe I would walk into the original Pike Place store, and a scene or feeling from the past suddenly came alive for me, crystal clear, as if it had occurred yesterday. and in a way, it had.”-loc 4215

“Now I had to do much more than raise money. I had to raise tens of thousands of spirits; engaging our partners in a shared purpose and then leading them toward a shared future. I recognized that many of our partners were burdened with fear. Fear of risk. Fear of public failure. And in an uncertain economy, fear for their own futures, which were tired to the future of the company. But I could not allow this fear to hold us back.
So I put a stake in the ground. Starbucks was going to do what people said could not be done and build a billion-dollar business on instant coffee.
….
There was a lot of debate internally about this. Should we even associate VIA with instant, given its negative connotation? Was our new coffee even in the same category as instant? Eventually, our creative studio crafted a simple, elegant turn of phrase that effectively reframed the way the product was viewed. A phrase that connoted a new beverage as well as a new behavior. The line-‘Starbucks coffee, in an instant’-said it all.”-loc 4275;4340

“‘Tell me what you are seeing in terms of consumers today,’ she further inquired, a question I got a lot because Starbucks stores around the world often serve as barometers, even early indicators, of spending behavior.”-loc 4435

“At the end of our visit, Mr. Lorenzi handed me a gray paperback book translated into English from Italian. I read the title: That Shop Via Montenapoleone by Aldo Lorenzi. Its thick, textured cover ad creamy pages felt as handcrafted as the cutlery encased in glass, and on the flight back to the United States I sat back and turned to the first chapter. ‘I love our shop…’ read this first sentence, written with that conviction of a man who truly knew his trade. I was hooked.”- loc 4587

“Whether Starbucks stores could feel small as the company grew big, balancing efficiencies with romance, was a question people constantly asked me, and I was routinely criticized for daring to believe such a balance could be achieved. But striving for balance between extremes is a trait that has long set Starbucks apart from so many other consumer brands. And while over the years my attention has wandered from time to time, at no point have I ever given up my intention that Starbucks should find equilibrium between the personal and the profitable and deliver shareholder value through the lens of social conscience.”-loc 4616

We are proud to have a traditional type of shop, which had remained true to itself over the years, but it must not be forgotten that this creates the need to keep it ‘fresh.’ The more that furniture, floor and fittings age, the greater the need for meticulous and periodic maintenance. Old is beautiful, but not if it is neglected. -Aldo Lorenzi, The Shop in Via Montenapoleone”-loc 4627

“‘Starbucks is here to stay in Rwanda,’ I stated succinctly. ‘We are deeply committed to Rwandan coffee and Rwanda. We are going to be buying Rwandan coffee for many years.’ It was our shared responsibility, Starbucks’ and the farmers’, to ensure both fairness and quality, which would increase the amount we were able to purchase, the price we could pay, and the profit the farmers could realize.”-loc 4911

“At its core, I believe leadership is about instilling confidence in others, and being in China at this juncture as Starbucks turned a corner was an opportunity for me to allay fears about the company’s stability and then get our people excited about what is possible. About dreaming big. And then bigger.”-loc 5197

“I’ve said that every enterprise and organization has a memory. And those memories create a path for people to follow…..

[following from transformation agenda]Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and always communicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your value, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trails and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.”-loc 5204

“Growth, we now know all too well, is not a strategy. It is a tactic.”-loc 5293

“Standing not far from pallets that transport some 65 million pounds of green coffee beans into the facility each year, I was reminded of Starbucks’ earlier days, when my office was located in the former roasting plant. Back then, at the end of every day and before I headed home for the evening, I would walk the plant’s floor. The partners always expect me, knowing I would make the rounds, usually stopping at the roasters’ cooling tray to rake my hands through the beans and feel the coffee between my fingers before saying goodnight and thank you to everyone. At that time, the company was small enough that I knew each partner’s name. Small enough that I knew their families. Two people from those days still work for Starbucks, Michael McNulty and Dave Seymour.”-loc 5479

It’s a part of me, and I’m a part of it.

Long story between me and Starbucks.

17 years ago, my aunt came back to Beijing from Japan. After a family get together, she took me to a Starbucks and I had my first caramel Macchiato. 

7 years ago, I started grad school and got a research assistant position in a psyc lab on Green St. The campus Starbucks is right downstairs. I remember myself came to the lab in a storm, get into the shop and grab a hot egg nog latte. The same year in Chicago, Jim took me to that Starbucks on State St. He orders the usual-a vanilla blond, which is three pumps of vanilla syrup in a blond roast drip coffee. 

6 years ago, I met Dev in the Starbucks right across the street of the Art Institute. He showed me his songs and I liked them. He promised me to send me his album link after finishing the whole album.

5 years ago, I moved to Northbrook and met S for the first time in the Starbucks. I was there earlier, reading To Kill a Mocking Bird when he came into the door. I saw him in the Sherlock T-shirt, smiling at me like the sun. 

4 years ago, we had a trip to Disney and stopped at Starbuck in Anaheim for breakfast. He tried the Chai and told me it’s not bad, and left his venti cold cup at the shotgun side. That was the last time I saw him before I left. I took that cup, flew for 6248 miles back to Beijing, and painted the firework we’ve missed that night on the cup. The same year, I got an email from Dev, he told me that he finished the album and sent me the link to his songs. I absolutely loved all of them.

3 years ago, I went back to San Diego to see him for the last time. We ended up at the Starbucks at Carmel Mountain Plaza and shared a lemon pound cake together. The same year after my trip, I started working at Starbucks in my community in Beijing. 

2 years ago, Howard had a trip to Beijing, and I sneak to Beijing Fun to see him. By then I’ve already had too many memories with it. So I told him, the one makes the story came true, that I’m happy to work here, and thank you for giving the homeless a home. The same year, I learnt V60, French press, making espresso, and got my black apron; I went to plogging and volunteered in a Hope School. Read the stories of the place I now still call home. The same year in my own store, I met W, my favorite regular in our store.

Last year, I learnt aeropress and Chemex. Visited almost all famous independent coffee shops in Beijing. I’ve had so many stories with all of our partners and our customers. Written pieces of notes for each of them. Saw a regular get pregnant and then the baby in her arms.

This year, I got W’s WeChat and we talk outside of the store. The baby already could say hi and bye to me. 

There are so much more encounters, surprises, gifts and memories of my life stemming from this store. It is the same everywhere, but each store has a unique finger print. I love it knit my 17 years together and through the fragments of some of the most beautiful moments in my life, I see myself in you, and also you in me.   

Winter- Ali Smith

“Landscape directs its own images.- Barbara Hepworth”

(The last Christmas at UP, the lake, and the sea.)

“But if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. – Theresa May.”

(We have to pick, or let it form, let it emerge, instead of letting go.)

“Darkness is cheap.”

(So, brightness is priceless.)

“She gets to her car soaked through. She sits in it in the car park under the noise of rain on the roof, in the not unpleasant smell of wet coat and car seat. Drips run down her from her hair. It is liberating. She watches the rain change the windscreen to a moving blur. The streetlights come on and the blur fills with the misshapen shifting spots of many colours, like someone’s thrown little paint-filled missiles at the windscreen; this is because of the municipal strings of coloured Christmas bulbs suspended round the edge of the car park.”

(I remember a rainy morning like this, the morning at Belmont. The smell of the rain, my heavy coat, the blurred windscreen. By then, we’ve just apart; by then, I still believed that we are together.)

“for instance, I could tell you a very verifiable fact or two-
(very very fiable, ha ha!)
-about a man called Mr. Kepler, who studied time and harmony and believed that truth and time were kindred-”

(Truth and time are kindred only because we learn how to excuse ourselves and to find persuasive explanations to things. Truth is relative in this context. It is WE who finalize it makes it absolute.)

“It was meant as a warning. Take a look at what your saints are truly made of. It was the demonstration that everything symbolic will be revealed as a lie, everything you revere nothing but burnt matter, broken stone, as soon as it meets whatever shape time’s contemporary cudgel takes.
But it worked the other way round too. They looked, those vandalized saints and statues, more like statements of survival than of destruction. They were proof of a new state of endurance, mysterious, headless, faceless, anonymous.”

“We all mine and undermine and landmine ourselves, in our own ways, in our own time, Sophia thinks.”

“Cymbeline, Lux says.
A play about a kingdom subsumed in chaos, lies, powermongering, division and a great deal of poisoning and self-poisoning, his mother says.
Where everybody is pretending to be someone or something else, Lux says. And you can’t see for the life of you how any of it will resolve in the end, because it’s such a tangled-up messed-up farce of a mess. It’s the first of his plays I read. It also happens to be why I ever wanted to come to this country to study. I read it and I thought, if this writer from this place can make this mad and bitter mess into his graceful thing it is at the end, where the balance comes back and all the lies are revealed and all the losses are compensated, and that’s the place on earth he comes from, that’s the place that made him, then that’s the place I’m going, I’ll go there, I’ll live there.”

“But what will the world do, though, Mrs Cleves, Lux says, if we can’t solve the problem of the millions and millions of people with no home to go to or whose homes aren’t good enough, except by saying go away and building fences and wall? It isn’t a good enough answer, that one group of people can be in charge of the destinies of another group of people and choose whether to exclude them or include them. Human beings have to be more ingenious than this, and more generous. We’ve got come up with a better answer.”

“He thought is was because he was too old. He was older, and compared to the age I was I did think he was ancient. He was in his sixties then. Well, now I know that your sixties feels the same as all the other ages, and your seventies. You never stop being yourself on the inside, whatever age people think you are by looking at you from the outside.”

“He’s got into the habit of thinking up something conceptual and metaphysical to ask them both every week or so. He copies them both into everything he sends them. This infuriates them. Good. They’re of the generation to enjoy infuriation, and the fury keeps them in touch with one another as well as him.”

Greenbay, early March, the end of winter, and then back to Spring. But there was no Spring at both homes. Ali always brought me back, to the specific period of my life, but I’ve never thanked her for being the lighthouse lighting up the darkness of the night sea. Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, a small town almost nowhere on the island, always connected me back to the lake, four seasons, all those people. 

It was quiet in the nursery kitchen. I don’t want him to be there. He’s still alive, but I feel death there, peace and forever and death, no big difference.

We’ve packed up many of his books, I took all of his Ali Smith with me. I introduced her to him, but I never knew he had gotten so many of hers during the two years we’ve apart.  I remember his favorite drink at the coffee shop, blonde brew and three pumps of vanilla syrup in a tall cup, a vanilla blonde. I went to the bookstore we used to go together, lingered at the board game section for a while. We’ve never been there before, neither him nor I used to interested in board games, neither of us technically has a squad to play a big game with. 

We went to see him, all of us, at different times. That’s one of the moment of my life, when it strikes me so hard that the nausea felt surreal, that I uncovered a part of the essence of life, the truth of living a life. What could it mean when all mean so little to someone.

I see too many in him, like I see so many in both men I loved, he’s my Mr.Gluck stuck in the Autumn, my parent, my friend, my tutor, my memories and my understandings. When summer comes, I secretly wish that the garden outside his room coming into full blossom that could light up the nothingness of his life in the simplest way.

 

Orphan Train-Christina Baker Kline

“Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.”-loc7 Preface quoted Bunny Mcbride

“I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.
Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam, singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.
I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is-a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”-loc 52

“My parents left Ireland in hopes of a brighter future, all of us believing we were on our way to a land of plenty. As it happened, they failed in this new land, failed in just about every way possible. It may have been that they were weak people, ill suited for the rigors of emigration, its humiliations and compromises, its competing demands of self-discipline and adventurousness. But I wonder how things might have been different if my father was part of a family business that gave him structure and a steady place for a man like him-or if my mother had been surrounded by women, sisters and nieces, perhaps, who could have provided relief from destitution and loneliness, a refuge from strangers.”-loc 495

“‘Be careful, dear,’ she says, running a light finger over my stitches. ‘Take the time to make them small and even. Remember, somebody will wear this, probably over and over until it’s worn through. A lady wants to feel pretty, no matter how much money she has.'”-loc 1531

“I listen to Mr. Sorenson and nod politely as he talks, but it’s hard to concentrate. I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside. It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”-loc 1625

Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve lived almost seven decades since then is irrelevant. Those years have nothing to do with the questions you ask.….
What did you choose to take with you? What did you leave behind? What insights did you gain?“-loc 2514

“She has never tried to find out what happened to her family-her mother or her relatives in Ireland. But over and over, Molly begins to understand as she listens to the tapes, Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting out most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.”-loc 2522

“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other. I like the coffee hour with almond cake and snickerdoodles in the vestry. And I like being associated with the Nielsens, who seem to be generally regarded as fine, upstanding citizens. For the first time in my life, the glow of other people’s approval extends to, and envelops, me.”-loc 2732

“Just after midnight, the street outside the hotel is lit up but empty, like a stage set before the actors appear.”-loc 3281

Autumn-Ali Smith

“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. Again. That’s the thing about things. they fall apart, always have, always will, it’s in their nature.”-loc 59

“He’d imagined death would distil a person, strip the rotting rot away till everything was light as a cloud. Seems the self you get left with on the shore, in the end, is the self that you were when you went.”-loc 67

“But the sea? Silent, like sea in a dream.”-loc 157. The sea had never been quiet. But in my memory, it is. It is always quiet in my memories like it comes out of a dream.

“Daniel lies there very still in the bed, and the cave of his mouth, its unsaying of these things, is the threshold to the end of the world as she knows it.”-loc 379

“It’s not what I mean, she says. I’m tired of the news. I’m tried of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling. I’m tired of the vitriol. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the meanness. I’m tired of the selfishness. I’m tired of how we’re doing nothing to stop it. I’m tired of how we’re encouraging it. I’m tired of the violence that’s on its way, that’s coming, that hasn’t happened yet. I’m tired of liars. I’m tired of sanctified liars. I’m tired of how those liars have let this happen. I’m tired of having to wonder whether they did it out of stupidity or did it did it on purpose. I’m tired of lying governments. I’m tired of people not caring whether they’re being lied to any more. I’m tired of being made to feel this fearful. I’m tired of animosity. I’m tired of pusillanimosity.”-loc 571

“The word gymkhana, Daniel said, is a wonderful word, a word grown from several languages.
Words don’t get grown, Elisabeth said.
They do, Daniel said.
Words aren’t plants, Elisabeth said.
Words are themselves organisms, Daniel said.
Oregano-isms, Elisabeth said.
Herbal and verbal, Daniel said. Language is like poppies. It just takes something to churn the earth round them up, and when it does up come the sleeeping words, bright red, fresh, blowing about. Then the seedheads rattle, the seeds fall out. Then there’s even more language waiting to come up.”-loc 673

“Collage is an institute of education where all the rules can be thrown into the air, and size and space and time and foreground and background all become relative, and because of these skills everything you think you know gets made into something new and strange.”-loc 702

“Elisabeth opened her eyes. She saw Daniel open his eyes a moment later.
Later that night, when she was home and falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV, Elisabeth would remember seeing his eyes open, and how it was like that moment when you just happen to see the streetlights come on and it feels like you’re being given a gift, or a chance, or that you yourself’ve been singled our and chosen by the moment.”- loc 726

“Time flies, Elisabeth said.
Well, yes. It can do, Daniel said. Literally.
Watch this.
Elisabeth doesn’t remember much of the above.
She does remember, though, the day they were walking along the canal bank when she was small and Daniel took his watch off his wrist and threw it into the water.
She remembers the thrill, the absolute not-doneness of it.”-loc 750

“A minute ago it was June. Now the weather is September.”-loc 833

“He is thin and small, sixteen summers old but he thinks he’s a man.”-loc 952

“Boy on a train.
Blink of an eye.
Old man in a bed.
The old man in the bed is confined.
Wooden overcoat.”-loc 977

“Which would you choose? Daniel said once. Should I please her and tell her she’s guessed right, and that I’m a recently retired Rambert? Or should I tell her the more mundane truth?
Definitely tell her the lie, Elisabeth said.
But think what will happen if I do, Daniel said.
It’ll be brilliant, Elisabeth said. It’ll be really funny.
I’ll tell you what will happen, Daniel said. This. You and I will know I’ve lied, but your mother won’t. You and I will know something that your mother doesn’t. That will make us feel different towards not just your mother, but each other. A wedge will come between us all. You will stop trusting me, and quite right, because I’d be a liar. We’ll all be lessened by the lie. So. Do you still choose the ballet? Or will I tell the sorrier truth?
I want the lie, Elisabeth said. She knows loads of things I don’t. I want to know some things she doesn’t.
The power of the lie, Daniel said. Always seductive to the powerless. But how is my being a retired dancer going to help in any real way with your feelings of powerlessness?
Were you a dancer? Elisabeth said.
That’s my secret, Daniel said. I’ll never divulge. Not to any human being. Not for any money.”-loc 1097

“They walked past the shops, then over to the field where the inter-school summer sports were held, where the fair went and the circus. Elisabeth had last come to the field just after the circus had left, especially to look at the flat dry place where the circus had had its tent. She liked doing melancholy things like that. But now you couldn’t tell that any of these summer things had ever happened. There was just empty field. The sports tracks had faded and gone. the flattened grass, the places that had turned to mud where the crowds had wandered round between the rides and the open-sided trailers full of the driving and shooting games, the ghost circus ring: nothing but grass.
Somehow this wasn’t the same as melancholy. It was something else, about how melancholy and nostalgia weren’t relevant in the slightest. Things just happened. Then they were over. Time just passed. Partly it felt unpleasant, to think like that, rude even. Partly it felt good. It was kind of a relief.”-loc 1103

“There is no point in making up a world, Elisabeth said, when there’s already a real world. There’s just the world, and there’s the truth about the world.
You mean, there’s the truth, and there’s the made-up version of it that we get told about the world, Daniel said.
no, The world exists. Stories are made up, Elisabeth said.
But no less true for that, Daniel said.
That’s ultra-crazy talk, Elisabeth said.
And whoever makes up the story makes up the world, Daniel said. So always try to welcome people into the home of your story. That’s my suggestion.”-loc 1150

“I don’t like it when the summer goes and the autumn comes, she said.
Daniel took her by the shoulders and turned her round. He didn’t say anything. But all across the landscape down behind them it was still sunlight blue and green.
She looked up at him showing her how the summer was still there.
Nobody spoke like Daniel.
nobody didn’t speak like Daniel.”-loc 1425

“It is possible, he said, to be in love not with someone but with their eyes. I mean, with how eyes that aren’t yours let you see where you are, who you are.
….
We have to hope, Daniel was saying, that the people who love us and who know us a little bit will in the end have seen us truly. In the end, not much else matters.
….
It’s the only responsibility memory has, he said. But, of course, memory and responsibility are strangers. They’re foreign to each other. memory always goes its own way quite regardless.”-loc 1553

“It is a privilege, to watch someone sleep, Elisabeth tells herself. It is a privilege to be able to witness someone both here and not here. To be included in someone’s absence, it is an honour, and it asks quiet. It asks respect.
No. It is awful.
It is fucking awful.
It is always awful to be on the literal other side of his eyes.”-loc 1620

“Would you actually like to time-travel? She said. If you could, I mean, and time travel was a real thing?
Very much indeed, Daniel said.
Why? Elisabeth said.
Time travel is real, Daniel said. We do it all the time. Moment to moment, minute to minute.
He opened his eyes wide at Elisabeth. Then he put his hand in his pocket, took out a twenty pence piece, held it in front of Barbra the cat. He did something with his other hand and the coin disappeared! He made it disappear!
The song about love being an easy chair filled the room. Barbra the cat was still looking in disbelief at Daniel’s empty hand. She put both paws up, held the hand, put her nose into it to look for the missing coin. Her cat face as full of amazement.
See how it’s deep in our animal nature, Daniel said. Not to see what’s happening right in front of our eyes.”-loc 1676

“It’s a question of how we regard our situations, dearest Dani, how we look and see where we are, and how we choose, if we can, when we are seeing undeceivedly, not to despair and, at the same time, how best to act. Hope is exactly that, that’s all it is, a matter of how we deal with the negative acts towards human beings by other human beings in the world, remembering that they and we are all human, that nothing human is alien to us, the foul and the fair, and that most important of all we’re here for a mere blink of the eyes, that’s all. But in that Augenblick there’s either a benign wink or a willing blindness, and we have to know we’re equally capable of both, and to be ready to be above and beyond the foul even when we’re up to our eyes in it. So it’s important- and here I acknowledge directly the kind and charming and mournful soul of my dear brother whom I know so well-not to waste the time, our time, when we have it.”-loc 1791

***

But his brother decided to sell his home, his home and his sister’s paintings, his library, his mom’s jewelry, and his clothes would all be gone.

He was reading an old old The Miserable with a worn out black dust cover, across the table in pancake house. I never expect he would start talking to me.

“I used to drink coffee with milk and cream too. But I don’t do that any more because I travel a lot. Milk and sugar quality and availability vary from one country to another. But black coffee is always the same everywhere. You know, how bad could a cup of black coffee be? So I trained myself drinking black coffee.”

His apartment smells ancient. Tiny dust particles floating in the air, in the sun light shining through the big window. Or winter snow dancing in the air, sucking in the ripples of the sound wave in the big city. I used to sleep over on his couch in his library room, in which he still have a picture of his old girlfriend in her 20s on the small wardrobe top. That room reminds me of my grandma, and it reminds me of the Museum of Innocence. Whenever I woke up earlier than the time we set to get up and have breakfast, I read those huge illustration books. Dali, Van Gogh, Monet, and others we could find in the Art Institute.

“Do you think I could get the job?” I asked when he drove me to my first job interview.

“I don’t know. But I do know that you just need to be you and let them see whether you really fit that position or not.”

It was summer time. I get confused about years and I don’t care neither.

“Let’s assume that I would live till my 90s, I would have another 20 years ahead. But the time I could use for travel would be less than that since my physical condition may not allow me to travel to another continent 10 years from now.” I was sitting on his couch, amazed by his estimation about his own life, and naively believed every single word he had told.

There is no reason, you see, why anyone who has firmly grasped the fact that there’s nothing frightening in the absence of life should find anything frightening in life. 

My last semester at school, I started to read The Night Circus. I had seen it in his library, and he told me it’s about magic and a circus. You know, kid’s story. Do you like it? Yes I do. Would I like it? Yes, I think so. It is really like you said about magic and a circus. I thought it must be a love story. It is simply about magic and a circus. You told me I would like it too. Do you like it? Yes I do.

Sometimes I ask myself, how come we went to so many book stores together, and we keep going back to the same one. Sometimes he buys a book or two, sometimes I buy one, but mostly, he told me books he knew, books he has been reading, books he had read. I get nothing to do, so I just wandering around, and read. Did I ever told him or not, this is how I wish myself to get old.

It is about the right time that I’m reading Ali again. I mentioned her to him before, when it took me a whole year to finish Artful. Now she is writing, about us. There is no plot, no drama, no story line. Only two people, one is young, another is old. It is about the enlightenment, the accompany, the conversations, the tiny fragments of time. The fence Daniel and Elisabeth shared is no different from the brick building; the depiction of paintings is no different from those real sculptures, paintings, collages we’ve seen together.

I order a Vanilla Blonde every time I went back to the campus bookstore Starbucks. He told me it is what he orders every time on State St. I haven’t been to that store for three years already, while I could still calculate, before using the too general a word “years”.

This could goes very very long, maybe not forever now. I’ll just stop here and let Ali say the words for us if that’s okay.

Memories of you

Dear Vincent,
People say you are good. We do now.
It is right about the time for us, but too late for you.
I still remember the New Year’s Eve, how I standing in the middle of the hall that full of your paintings, knowing for sure that this would be the place I’d be back again and again for a home.
Do you know that snowy winter, I’ve visited MoMA only for the real Starry Night, the one appears not only as my footprint, but also as my sloppy faith towards life; and the huge puzzle hanging on my bedroom wall, it kept me accompany through my loneliest days and nights? I was standing in front of the genuine work of yours, the one I’ve been looking at for so many times from so many places, feeling it worth all.
When I moved away, one of the biggest concerns is I’m gonna be far away from you. But I already knew that I’d make it for your Bedroom exhibition no matter what. It was around Valentine’s Day, and I thought people in the museum are really considerate and romantic to make it happen at that time. They made a Night Cafe for guests sitting and chatting, and they copied your Bedroom so that people may book it for a night to stay in your “truth”.
So many texts and works, movies and music are made for you; those texts are connected with each other, they talk to each other, they show us, they sing. I’ve never found the missing piece in my puzzle, and it is so beautiful because of that imperfection. That’s when I started to know I could fall for an imperfection just for what it is.
Do you know the show Dr. Who? They made an episode that the Dr. goes back in time and brings you to the modern world where you see all those who admire and respect and fervently love your work studying there with great appreciation. And you in that fiction? You cried. Is it a fiction, or it is the truth in another universe?
The day I went back for the Bedroom exhibition, I was sitting in the Night Cafe when an old guy sitting across the table started talking to me. He said “Please sit down, now, what would you like for a drink?” I remember it cuz I wrote it down that day. I also wrote at the end of my journal:
“How can I not fall deeply and tenderly in love with you?”
You see? We feel what you felt through your work, and to your work.
Loving Liz

The Brain That Changes Itself-Norman Doidge

1. A Woman Perpetually Falling

Vestibular apparatus: the sensory organ for the balance system.

“We have senses we don’t know we have-until we lose them;…The balance system gives us our sense of orientation in space. Its sense organ, the vestibular apparatus, consists of three semicircular canals in the inner ear that tell us when we are upright and how gravity is affecting our bodies by detecting motion in three-dimensional space….A healthy vestibular apparatus also has a strong link to our visual system.” [Does this mean any creature that could feel more than three dimensional space-time must have structural difference compared to us?]-p3

Paul Bach-y-Rita rejected these localizationist claim. Our senses have an unexpected plastic nature, he discovered, and if one is damaged, another can sometimes take over for it, a process he calls ‘sensory substitution’…By discovering that the nervous system can adapt to seeing with cameras instead of retinas, Bach-y-Rita laid the groundwork for the greatest hope for the blind: retina implants, which can be surgically inserted into the eyes.”-p13

Broca’s area: was presumed to coordinate the movements of the muscles of the lips and tongue. -p16

Wernicke’s area: the ability to understand language. -p16

“Bach-y-Rita began to conceive of much of the brain as ‘polysensory’-that its sensory areas were able to process signals from more than one sense….This can happen because all our senses receptors translate diffrent kinds of energy from the external world, no matter what the source, into electrical patterns that are sent down our nerves. These electrical patterns are the universal language ‘spoken’ inside the brain.”-p18

“Bach-y-Rita, based on his knowledge of nerve growth, began to argue that these learning plateaus were temporary-part of a plasticity-based learning cycle-in which stages of learning are followed by periods of consolidation. Though there was no apparent pprogress in the consolidation stage, biological changes were happening internally, as new skills became more automatic and refined.”-p24

“Andy Clark wittly argued that we are ‘natual-born cyborgs,’ meaning that brian plasticity allows us to attach ourselves to machines, such as computers and electronic tools, quite naturally.”-p26

2. Building Herself a Better Brain

“Up through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a classical education often included rote memorization of long poems in foreign languages, which strengthened the auditory memory (hence thinking in language) and an almost fanatical attention to handwriting, which probabaly helped strenghten motor capacities and thus not only helped handwriting but added speed and fluency to reading and speaking. Often a great deal of attention was paid to exact elocution and to perfecting the pronunciation of words. Then in the 1960s educators droped such traditional exercises from the curriculum, because they were too regid, boring, and ‘not relevant’. But the loss of these drills has been costly; they may have been the only opportunity that mant students had to systematically execise the brain function that gives us fluency and grace with symbols. For the rest of us, their disapearance may have contributed to the general decline of eloquence, which requires memory and a level of auditory brain power unfamiliar to us now.”-p41-42

Acetylcholine: a brain chemical essential for learning.

3. Redesigning The Brain

Michael Merzenich‘s specialty is improving people’s ability to think and perceive by redesigning the brain by training specific processing areas, called brain maps, so that they do more mental work….Of neuroplasticians with solid hard-science credentials, it is Merzenich who has made the most ambitious claims for the field: that brain exercises may be as useful as drugs to treat diseases as severe as schizophrenia; that plasticity exists from the cradle to the grave; and that radical improvements in cognitive functioning-how we learn, think, perceive, and remember-are possible even in the elderly.”-p46

“Normally, when one’s hand is touched, an electrical signal passes to the spinal cord and up to the brain, where it turns on cells in the map that make the hand feel touched.”-p48

Dr.Wilder Penfield, in the 1930s, made sensory and motor brain maps, “like geographical maps, are topographical, meaning that areas adjacent to each other on the body’s surface are generally adjacent to each other on the brain maps…..but Merzenich discovered that these maps are neither immutable within a single brain nor universal but vary in their borders and size from person to person.”-p49

Vernon Mountcastle, a famous neuroscientist at Hopkins in the 1950s, is Merzenich’s advisor by then. Vernon “demonstrated that the subtleties of brain architecture could be discovered by studying the electrical activity of neurons using a new technique: micromapping with pin-shaped microelectrodes.”-p50

Micromapping pro: about a thousand times more precise than the current generation of brain scans, which detect bursts of activity that last one sec in thousands of neurons. A neuron’s electrical signal often lasts a thousandth of a second, so brain scans miss an extraordinary amount of information.

Micromapping con: micromapping hasn’t replace brain scan because it requires an extremely tedious kind of surgery, conducted under a microscope with microsurgical instruments.

“David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel were micromapping the visual cortex to learn how vision is processed….They also discovered that there was a ‘critical period’, from the third to the eighth week of life, when the newborn kitten’s brain had to receive vision stimulation in order to develop normally….Clearly the brains of the kittens during the critical period were plastic, their structure were literally shaped by experience.”-p51

“It also seemed that each neural system had a different critical period, or window of time, during which it was especially plastic and sensitive to the environment, and during which it had rapid, formative growth.”-p52

“It is important to understand that the nervous system is divided into two parts. The first part is the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which is the command-and-control center of the system; it was thought to lack plasticity. The second part is the peripheral nervous system, which brings messages from the sense receptors to the spinal cord and brain and carries messages from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles and glands. The peripheral nervous system was long known to be plastic; if you cut a nerve in your hand, it can ‘regenerate’ or heal itself.”-p53

Each neuron has three parts:

  1. The dendrites: treelike branches that receive input from other neurons.
  2. Dendrites lead to cell body: sustain the life of the cell and contains its DNA.
  3. Axon: a living cable with varying lengths (from microscopic lengths in the brain, to some that can run down to the legs and reach up to six feet long.) Axons are often compared to wires because they carry electrical impulses at very high speeds (from 2-200 miles per hour) toward the dendrites of neighboring neurons.

A neuron can receive two kinds of signals: those that excite it and those that inhibit it.

  1. A neuron receives enough excitatory signals from other neurons, it will fire off its signal.
  2. A neuron receives enough inhibitory signals, it becomes less likely to fire.

“When we say that neurons ‘rewire’ themselves, we mean that alterations occur at the synapse, strengthening and increasing, or weakening and decreasing, the number of connections between the neurons.”

How Best to Avoid Dying-Owen Egerton

“I had thought you were not in this story. None of the characters are based on you. But perhaps you are here. Perhaps the three (Zane, Stella, and David) are you. Zane is action; David is inaction; Stella orbits the two like a comet between stars. Is your genius your contradictions? Is your being the unlikely love affair and hate affair of anonymous elements? The pain and joy of your year has pushed out the edges of your soul. In some ways it can hold more than it ever held. But the seams are torn and your soul pours out on me and all those you see.”-note 11; p82

“The sky is high and far. The cliffs are old. In Utah everything stretches up, out, back, and I find me nowhere but now and alone. It’s a good lonely, still hurts, still hollow, but being lonely in a beautiful place is finer than being lonely on my brother’s couch. It’s kind of a scary lonely. I’m afraid it might get me. Especially when the sun goes down. If you get lonely enough God will meet you there. I’m afraid to try.”-p163

“Anywhere in the world, he’d be young.”-p165

“‘Where you fear there is judgement, where you hope there is nothing, in that place there is actually love.'”-p175

But where there is actually love, there would be no judgement; there will be nothing in a way exact you want it to be, a comfortable emptiness that allows you to be you.

*

I bought this book [the yellow cover editon] at Quimby’s, Wicker Park. That was the first independent bookstore J had taken me to.
I bought this book, and started reading in the apartment on Church St. That book, and the first several stores kept me accompany for something like two months, before I graduated, before all began.

Then it stayed in my bookshelf then my moving boxes then my bookshelf again for one and a half year. When I picked it up, I thought it would be something entertaining on my daily commute. But it turns out to be a wonderful book that I’ve long forgotten. The way Egerton plays with words and culture, the insightful and acerbic irony in his observation of our society are all like mouths bursting out cold laugh. Well you just start to notice how absurd life could be, in a unrealistic but reasonable way.

Of course quantum mechanics and neuroscience and other science tell laws of the factual world, but it is always literature, those stories fictions tales and legends carrying on the spirit, lashing the wrong and spread the right.

I gradually realize that it is always other people and other minds we turn to whenever we get lost. Our interests in the enormous universe or the microworld as tiny as a neuron or a photon are just ways to open up a new world, that we could hide and explore, assume and learn. But it is the words related to this world, directly dealing with our heart and soul, that reveals us the path of our individual life. That’s something we shouldn’t give up to, for we are human beings not only having distinguished reasoning skills, but also experience highly emotional and sentimental.

The best thing is, I am always amazed to see that science and literature could be entangled in such a harmonious way rather than conflict with each other.

Steal Like an Artist-Austin Kleon

The structural tips from Austin:
1. Steal like an artist.
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
3. Write the book you want to read.
4. Use your hands.
5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
6. Do good work and share it with people.
7. Geography is no longer our master-build a world; save sometime for self-imposed solitude and temporary captivity.
8. Be nice.-be with wonderful people and learn from them.
9. Be boring. (this is a very interesting point that I felt in my living experience too. The more regulated and orderly you live, the more creative you get in your work and thoughts ;))
10. Creativity is subtraction. [Green Eggs and Ham*]

“Don’t throw any of yourself away. Don’t worry about a grand scheme or unified vision for your work. Don’t worry about unity—what unifies your work is the fact that you made it. One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”-p23

“There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it.”-p24

“Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.”-p34

“The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.”-p38

Pictures and drafts that haven’t been included but I feel like sharing here.
微信截图_20170328124637微信截图_20170328124735微信截图_20170328124745微信截图_20170328124850

*
A children’s book written with only 50 different words.
I encounter this title in Austin Kleon’s book and cannot help taking a look at the content.
Here is the origin of this story from Austin’s book and a link to a sample of the book.

“Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.”

Click to access Green%20Eggs%20and%20Ham.pdf

Well I like green eggs and ham. The title reminds me of the cloudy morning at Over Easy. When Jim first took me there, I never thought myself would be back to visit. So that day, two days after St.Patrick’s Day, I was driving up to Damen, did a street parking, walked in the small hommie place when the owner recommend me the spinach juice colored eggs and ham omelet on their spring menu.

Start with Why- Simon Sinek

“Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not becasue they were swayed, but because they were inspired. For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal.”-loc 165

“I hope to inspire others to do the things that inspire them so that together we may build the companies, the economy and a world in which trust and loyalty are the norm and not the exception.”-loc 190

“We make assumptions. We make assumptions about the world around us based on sometimes incomplete or false information.”-loc 207

“This dance between gut and rational decision-making pretty much covers how we conduct business and even live our lives.”-loc 260

“Japanese auto plant, they didn’t examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution-they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process.”-loc 270

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it….Typical manipulations include: dropping price; running a promotion; using fear, peer pressure or aspirational messages; and promising innovation to influence behavior-be it a purchase, a vote or support. When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they needed. And for good reason. Manipulations work.”-loc 306

“In the business-to-business world, promotions are called ‘value added.’ But the principles are the same-give something away for free to reduce the risk so that someone will do business with you…..Breakage measures the percentage of customers who fail to take advantage of a promotion and end up paying full price for a product instead….The rebate industry also has a name for the number of customers who just don’t bother to apply for the rebate, or who never cash the rebate check they receive. That’s called slippage.”-loc 369

“Fear, real or perceived, is arguably the most powerful manipulation of the lot….When fear is employed, facts are incidental. Deep seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures. This is how terrorism works. It’s not the statistical probability that one could get hurt by a terrorist, but it’s the fear that it might happen that cripples a population.”-loc 399

“If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable. Marketers often talk about the importance of being aspirational, offering someone something they desire to achieve and the ability to get there more easily with a particular product or service….Aspirational messages can spur behavior, but for most, it won’t last.”-loc 423

“…the company confused innovation with novelty. Real innovation changes the course of industries or even society. The light bulb, the microwave oven, the fax machine, iTunes. These are true innovations that changed how we conduct business, altered how we live our lives, and, in the case of iTunes, challenged an industry to completely reevaluate its business model. Adding a camera to a mobile phone, for example, is not innovation-a great feature, for sure, but not industrial-altering.”-loc 502

“Leader ship requires people to stick with you through thick and thin. Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years….There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you.”-loc 563

“Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind.”-loc 647

“By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care….People don;t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it….When communicating form the inside out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as tangible proof of that belief….The problem was, Creative advertised their product as a ‘5GB mp3 player’, It is exactly the same message as Apple’s ‘1,000 songs in your pocket.’ The difference is Creative told us WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it.”-loc 738

“Apple even changed its legal name in 2007 from Apple Computers, Inc. to Apple Inc. to reflect the fact that they were more than just a computer company. Practically speaking, it doesn’t really matter what a company’s legal name is. For Apple, however, having the word ‘Computer’ in their name didn’t limit WHAT they could do. It limited how they thought of themselves. The change wasn’t practical, it was philosophical.”-loc 880

“Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others….Apple didn’t invent the lifestyle, nor does it sell a lifestyle. Apple is simply one of the brands that those who live a certain lifestyle are drawn to.”-loc 899

“A company doesn’t need to have the best products, they just need to be good or very good. Better or best is a relative comparison. Without first understanding WHY, the comparison itself is of no value to the decision maker.”-loc 930

“Our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures. It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected and we feel safe. As humans we crave this feeling and we seek it out. Sometimes our feeling of belonging is incidental….No matter where we go, we trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values or beliefs. Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling.”-loc 1010 [This is so true. Language and culture is not decisive factors. Values matter the most and the amiable belonging feeling restored within the ones who share mutual memories and past with us. The memories and past are not those physically shared ones in our traditional definition, but the feelings towards our own history and expectations towards the future, and the same perception of what an ideal or happy life should be.]

“Our natural need to belong also makes us good at spotting things that don’t belong….Dell selling mp3 players just doesn’t feel right because Dell defines itself as a computer company, so the only things that belong are computers. Apple defines itself as a company on a mission and so anything they do that fits that definition feels like it belongs.”-loc 1036

“‘She’s funny, she’s smart,’ we start. But there are lots of funny and smart people in the world, but we don’t love them and we don’t want to marry them. There is obvious more than just personality and competence. Rationally, we know our explanation isn’t the real reason. It is how our loved ones make us feel, but those feelings are really hard to put into words. So when pushed, we start to talk around it.”-loc 1083

“The Golden Circle offers an explanation for long-term success, but the inherent nature of doing things for the long term often includes investments or short-term costs. This is the reason the discipline to stay focused on the WHY and remain true to your values matters so much.”-loc 1013

“Relationships also build trust. And with trust comes loyalty… There are many ways to motivate people to do things, but loyalty comes from the ability to inspire people….Only when the WHY is clear and when people believe what you believe can a true loyal relationship develop.”-loc 1364

“Size and might alone do not guarantee success. We’ve succeeded as a species because of our ability to form cultures. Cultures are groups of people who come together around a common set of values and beliefs. When we share values and beliefs with others, we form trust.”-loc 1695

“Early in the twentieth century, the English adventurer Ernest Shackleton set out to explore the Antarctic….His actual ad run like this: ‘Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.’….Companies with a strong sense of WHY are able to inspire their employees. Those employees are more productive and innovative, and the feeling they bring to work attracts other people to work there as well.”-loc 1748

“If the people inside a company are told to come to work and just do their job, that’s all they will do. If they are constantly reminded WHY the company was founded and told to always look for ways to bring the cause to life while performing their job, however, then they will do more than their job.”-loc 1942 [I was constantly reminded of the WHY, taught about HOW to achieve the cause and kept making WHATs happening when I was working at IMO. I’ve tried my best to learn to absorb, to contribute, and to dedicate not to those terms but to the meaning of them. This is why among all jobs and training programs I’ve been taking, IMO still hold firmly that first position in my heart.]

“There was a stigma against speaking out…nobody dared ask a stupid question in case they looked silly in front of everyone else… the lack of a clear set of values and beliefs, along with the weak culture that resulted, created the conditions for an every-man-for-himself environment, the long-term impact of which could yield little else than disaster….Many companies have start employees and start salesmen and so on, but few have a culture that produces great people as a rule and not an exception.”-loc 2014

“Great organizations become great because the people inside the organization feel protected. The strong sense of culture creates a sense of belonging and acts like a net. People come to work knowing that their bosses, colleagues and the organization as a whole will look out for them. This results in reciprocal behavior.”-loc 2073

“Loyalty is when people are willing to suffer some inconvenience or pay premium to do business with you.”-loc 2388

“‘Until people get their hands on it,’ Rebecca Baer, a spokeswoman for TiVo, told the New York Times in 2000, ‘they don’t understand why they need this.’ If this line of logic was true, then no new technology would ever take hold. A fact that it patently untrue. Though Ms. Baer was correct about the mass market’s failure to properly communicate and rally the left side of the bell curve to educate and encourage the adoption that was the reason so few people ‘got their hands on it’…. They ignored the left side of the curve and completely failed to find the tipping point.”-loc 2487

“‘There are two types of laws’ he shared, ‘those that are just and those that are unjust. A just law,’ Dr. King expounded, ‘is a man-made code that squares with the moral law. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law… Any law that uplift the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality.'”-loc 2552

“Today, the work he does with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has nothing to do with software, but it is another way he has found to bring his WHY to life. He is looking for ways to solve problems. He still has an underlying belief. And he still believe that if we can help people, this time those with less privilege, remove some seemingly simple obstacles, then they too will have an opportunity to be more productive and lift themselves up to achieve their great potential.”-loc 2625

“HOW-types don’t need WHY-types to do well. But WHY-guys, for all their vision and imagination, often get the short end of the stick.”-loc 2775

“This relationship starts to clarify the differences between a vision statement and a mission statement in an organization. The vision is the public statement of the founder’s intent, WHY the company exists. It is literally the vision of a future that does not yet exists. The mission statement is a description of the route, the guiding principles–HOW the company intends to create that future.”-loc 2794

“For a WHY to have the power to move people it must not only be clear, it must be amplified to reach enough people to tip the scale.”-loc 2892

“On January 22, 1984, Apple launched their Macintosh computer with their new-famous commercial depicting an Orwellian scene of a totalitarian regime holding control over a population and promised that ‘1984 won’t be like 1984’ But this advertising was much more than just advertising. It was not about the features and benefits of a new product. It was not about a ‘differentiation’. It was, for all intents and purposes, a manifesto.”-loc 3049

“And just like a person struggling to put her emotions into words, we rely on metaphors, imagery and analogies in an attempt to communicate how we feel…. We use symbols. We create tangible things for those who believe what we believe to point to say ‘That’s why I’m inspired.’ If done properly, thats’ what marketing, branding, and products and services become.”- loc 3126

“‘Celebrate your successes,’ said Walton. ‘Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loose up and everybody around you will loosen up.'”-loc 3456

Concept:
Diffusion of innovations

330px-diffusion_of_ideas-svg

According to the Law of Diffusion, mass-market success can only be achieved after you penetrate between 15 percent to 18 percent of the market. That’s because the early majority won’t try something new until someone else has tried it first.

Celery Test:

Filtering your decisions through your WHY, you spend less time at the supermarket and you spend less money, so there’s an efficiency advantage also. Simply ensuring that WHAT you do proves what you believe makes it easy for those who believe what you believe to find you. You have successfully communicated your WHY based on WHAT you do.

This is an idealistic concept and in the real world that level of discipline is not always possible. I understand that sometimes we have to make short-term decision to pay bills or get some short-term advantage. That’s fine. The Celery Test still applies. If you want a piece of chocolate cake, go right ahead. The difference is, when you start with WHY, you know full well that the chocolate cake is a short-term decision that doesn’t fit with your beliefs. You can certainly make those decisions if you need to, but don’t make too many of them, otherwise over time, no one will know what you believe.

But here’s the best part. As soon as I told you WHY, you knew that we were going to buy only celery and rice milk even before you read it. As soon as I gave you the filter, as soon as I said the WHY, you knew exactly what decisions to make before I said so.

***

This is the book I read right after my trip. Setting aside all emotional turmoil and issue that too personal to reach a solitary state, I picked something supposed to be inspiring to my new job.

I watched Simon’s Ted talk a week before I left for the trip, and got the e-book in my kindle having an idea of reading it but never set up a specific date. I’m glad that I picked this one to start. The writing is passionate and logical, rich in examples and coherent on its main idea. It is an easy read drilling an very important idea for all entrepreneurs-put your heart ahead of your mind.

For many times when I read the book, the thought pop up saying “you know, this is not just about business?”