From the longtime CEO and chairman of Starbucks, a work about the new responsibilities that leaders, businesses, and citizens share in American society today—as viewed through the intimate lens of one man’s life and work.
Mr. Schultz’s recollections of youth would have made a fine memoir on their own ... It’s when he writes about his later career and tries to connect his experiences to the poor state of our politics—in other words, when he tries to tell us why he’d be a great president—that Mr. Schultz bores and exasperates. He strikes me as a brilliant entrepreneur but almost certainly a bad politician: a man bursting with ideas but bereft of coherent political principles.
From the Ground Up belongs to the Fuck You: How I Became a Billionaire and You Didn’t genre that has an oddly persistent market in America ... Because it’s also designed to double as an extended stump speech, it’s a particularly difficult read — the boring and insincere autobiography of a pretentious oligarch who probably hasn’t been told to his face he’s full of shit since the first Bush administration ... The Starbucks origin story is a Freudian horror flick, though Schultz doesn’t tell it that way ... Once you get past the somewhat interesting 'avenging my loser Dad' portions, the rest of the book is just collections of clichés lifted variously from the campaign-lit and CEO-bio genres. Schultz’s mind is a giant T-shirt ... exceptionally dull, so completely devoid of ideas that it’s almost interesting. Schultz makes the Romney family cookbook read like Dante’s Inferno.
Schultz argues that America’s political instability is driven by the government’s lack of fiscal discipline (just as his family’s instability was driven by his spendthrift father). What the country needs, then, is the same approach that made him rich: to pull itself up by the bootstraps, and tighten its belt. But Schultz has taken the wrong lessons from his childhood. If anything, From the Ground Up is an argument for the government to do more, not less, to help its most vulnerable people—exactly the argument being made by the Democrats whom Schultz has spent the past week mocking ... Looking back at his childhood, Schultz doesn’t see missing social programs that could have helped unskilled laborers like his father; he sees missing companies like Starbucks that could have given him an identity ... Schultz’s perspective of his childhood is hopelessly clouded by his subsequent professional success and extravagant wealth.