Book Review: How Starbucks Saved My Life (Michael Gates Gill)

Heard of this book yet?  If not, you probably will soon, since Tom Hanks has already purchased the movie rights to it and will likely be converting this “riches to rags” story into a major Hollywood event in the relatively near future.  There’s still plenty of time, however, to savor the written version of this autobiographical tale, centered around an affluent older worker who gets laid off from his six-figure Madison Avenue advertising job only to rediscover his values — and his humanity, so to speak — upon taking the only job he can find, working as an entry-level barista in a New York Starbucks store.

Sound schmaltzy?  Some critics clearly think so and have accused the author, Michael Gates Gill, of engineering the whole story solely with the intent to write a best-seller.  Others, too, have chastised him for engaging in shameless name-dropping throughout the book, as he tries to illustrate the height of his fall from grace through mention of the long list of famous people he’s hob-nobbed with over the years, including Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Onassis, and Queen Elizabeth.  From our standpoint, however, the book came across as refreshingly heartfelt and authentic, perhaps due to the exposure we’ve had to the realities of age discrimination and the tough choices people are forced to make these days around issues such as money, status, and work/life balance.  The themes the author focuses on throughout the book echo many stories we’ve heard from our own clients over the years, and as a result, we’re inclined to give Mr. Gill the benefit of the doubt — and accept his version of events as told.

So whether you’re simply in the mood for an enjoyable tale involving one of our most well-known hometown companies, or are looking to extract some deeper wisdom with regard to your own personal career satisfaction, How Starbucks Saved My Life will deliver on both counts.  It’s a great read and an important reminder of how easy it is for all us to lose track of our priorities in the hustle and bustle of modern living.  We highly recommend it to young and old, employed and unemployed, alike!

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