Howard Schultz: From Rags to Coffee Mogul

By Phineas Upham

Born in July of 1953, Howard Schultz was the son of a US Army truck driver and his wife. Schultz had a poor upbringing, and sports were basically his only release as a kid. He took to them well and earned a scholarship for Northwestern University while playing for his high school.

That was the springboard that turned him into the first person in the Schultz family to go to college. He enrolled at Northern Michigan University His time at northwestern was spent studying for a bachelor’s degree in Business, but he also joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Upon graduation he took a sales job at Xerox Corporation, where he received a promotion and did fairly well. His next job was as the general manager for a Swedish drip-coffee maker in 1979. Schultz had visited Starbucks in 1981 to ask them why they were ordering so many cone filters from his stores. He was intrigued by what he saw there. The company was well-versed and seemed to have a strong knowledge of coffee.

Schultz formed a relationship with Starbucks’ founders and joined the company properly in 1982. His role was Director of Marketing, and that’s where he got the idea to add espressos and other beverages in addition to the usual Starbucks lineup. As you may have guessed, the idea was a smashing success. He eventually rose to become the company CEO, a position he held until 2000. Schultz is ranked as one of the richest men in America, and he owned the Seattle Supersonics from 2001 to 2006.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.


How to Improve Your Yelp Reviews

By Pierre Zarokian from RepEngage

The secret is out: Yelp is not the bastion of honesty that it once was. Countless businesses are finding themselves at the mercy of Yelp reviews that may or may not have any authenticity to them. The system is open to gaming, and Yelp can control your ratings by rearranging reviews. If you’re one of the many businesses hanging up on Yelp sales calls while watching your ratings plummet, read on for some valuable insider tips to improve your image.
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4 SEO Strategies to Focus on in 2015

2015 presents new challenges for businesses, especially on the web. With the rising use of mobile devices compared to all other devices, the target audience has changed. SEO has specifically gotten much tougher, specially with the new Google algorithms in the past 3 years. Google is purposely making hard for sites to rank better with SEO, mainly to cut down spam, but many legit sites are having trouble getting rankings. The following strategies might help you boost your SEO initiatives in 2015. Continue reading


Checklist for hiring web designers

If you’re building a website or want to update your existing website and you decide to hire a designer to help you can quickly get overwhelmed. There are thousands of Web designers. How do you decide what makes one designer better than another designer?

Experience Isn’t Everything

Most people will tell you that the most important thing is experience. A designer who doesn’t have a lot of experience, they’ll tell you, can’t give you the quality that an experienced designer can. I don’t agree. While experience can be useful, it can also be a drawback. Just because a designer has less experience doesn’t mean that he or she can’t build a beautiful site for you.

Take Note: If a designer says they’ve been building websites since before 1995, they are almost definitely exaggerating. When I started working on the Web in 1995, very very few people had even heard of the Web, let alone had set up a business. I was working at an Internet company, which is the only reason I was involved with it at that time.Before you base your decision solely on how many sites they’ve built or how long they’ve been in business, think about this:

  • Many long-time designers are stuck in their habits and might not be willing or able to give you a cutting edge website (if that’s what you want).
  • Younger designers are more likely to have gone to school to get a Web design degree. While this isn’t vital either, it does tell you that this person has academic knowledge that an older designer might only have through practice.

Ask to See Their Portfolio

While experience might not be important, having a good portfolio is. You shouldn’t be as concerned with whether the portfolio is made up of live sites, so much that the examples show diversity and range for the designer. Ask to see the portfolio online so that you can see how the websites they’ve built actually work. This is especially important if you’re looking for a designer to build any type of interactivity for your website.

Some people will tell you that the way the potential Web designer’s personal site looks is a good measure of how good a designer they will be. But I disagree with this too. While I do think having a good Web design business site is important. I don’t think that it’s a good indicator of how well they would design your site. Most designers design their business site when they’re not working on paying jobs. And if they have tons of time to modify their business site, then they don’t have a lot of experience, do they? But they might have a good portfolio. So you have to judge for yourself.