Monday, January 21, 2008

How Starbucks Saved My Life (copy)

He used to work at the best ad agency in New York City. He used to have a six-figure salary. He used to have final say over accounts such as the United States Marines, Burger King, IBM, and Ford. He used to wear Brooks Brothers and commute to work via a car service. He used to live in a home with 25 rooms and a two-story library. He used to have a loving wife.

In a companywide clean sweep, Michael was swept out with the old. It happened at a breakfast meeting with a bright young woman he had hired years earlier. After 25 years of dedicated service Michael was let go. He walked from the meeting realizing he had nowhere to go and nothing to do.

The firing came at a critical time in Michael’s life. He had some major problems. Months earlier he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The operation could wait, but eventually had to be done. He also met and courted a woman who became his lover. The affair produced an offspring his wife could not ignore. At 53 years-of-age and without a job, he needed money for medical bills, a divorce lawyer, and a bouncing baby boy.

This was Michael’s messed up life. He needed income and his attempts at consulting were, dare I say, rather insulting. He couldn’t blame his contacts. What did he have unique to offer his former clients other than cheaper rates? The meager returned phone calls slowly dried up.

One thing, through the whole degrading process, Michael could not give up was his daily Starbucks lattes. He had taken to using the famous chain as his headquarters for consulting. What did it matter he hadn’t a corner office? He had done quite a bit of work for the agency during coffee breaks at Starbucks anyway.

With latte in hand, Michael sat daydreaming when a woman spoke, “Would you like a job?"

The first chapter begins, “This is a true, surprising story of an old white man who was kicked out of the top of the American Establishment, by chance met a young African-American woman from a completely different background, and came to learn what is important in life.”

From hubris to humility, from being served into the service of others, Michael Gates Gill has written a quirky memoir in How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live like Everyone Else.

Note: What kind of life is Gill living now? Tom Hanks has bought the rights to the book and Gill is enjoying success on his book tour. Hmm, has he changed?