How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else


The national bestselling riches-to-rags true story of an advertising executive who had it all, then lost it all—and was finally redeemed by his new job, and his twenty-eight-year-old boss, at Starbucks. In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a mansion in the suburbs, a wife and loving children, a six-figure salary, and an Ivy League education. But in a few short years, he lost his job, got divorced, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With no money or health insurance, he was forced to get a job at Starbucks. Having gone from power lunches to scrubbing toilets, from being served to serving, Michael was a true fish out of water. But fate brings an unexpected teacher into his life who opens his eyes to what living well really looks like. The two seem to have nothing in common: She is a young African American, the daughter of a drug addict; he is used to being the boss but reports to her now. For the first time in his life he experiences being a member of a minority trying hard to survive in a challenging new job. He learns the value of hard work and humility, as well as what it truly means to respect another person. Behind the scenes at one of America’s most intriguing businesses, an inspiring friendship is born, a family begins to heal, and, thanks to his unlikely mentor, Michael Gill at last experiences a sense of self-worth and happiness he has never known before.

Life is a matter of familiarizing yourself with your values and priorities, which usually comes as a result of looking back at your individual experiences. This is the case of the life-changing experience of Michael Gates Gill, a former creative director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. He was born into a life of never-ending privileges that allowed him to exceed in every aspect of his life, without lifting a finger. Because his goals in life had been easily achieved due to the high social class he stood in because of his father, he never had a chance to actually work hard for a place in the world. Because of his elite job, he felt he was the ruling class of the world and look down upon those of the working class. But soon enough, fate followed and resulted in a turning-point in Michael’s life. After 25-years of loyal service, he was roughly put off from his job without a single recognition in regards to his working years of success. He had then realized that karma came back at him for all the times he had mistreated the people beneath him. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop there. In just a short term following this, he got divorced, lost his estate to his wife along with the respect of his children, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Michael’s life came crashing down all so suddenly in the year of his sixties, that it felt that it was impossible to regain a steady momentum. However, an opportunity at a job at Starbuck was offered to him to get a new fresh start on his life and out of surprise, he took it. Michael began to re-orient his values of his life and gained a new understanding on the ways of respect. He wasn’t familiar with the mentality that respect and self-worth comes to those who earn it with hard work and a sense of humanity for others. This is why the theme of the memoir “How Starbucks Saved My Life” is when people choose to take risks on something new; they end up getting a higher level of understanding on the experience.

Therefore, taking risks can eventually lead to life-changing experiences and they are unquestionably worth taking. “How Starbucks Saved My Life,” is the perfect auto-biography on reflecting on life’s moments and considering ways that it can be applied to the future.


Author: Novemberschild

I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.

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