Dear America . . .
I might want to become Starbucks’ new CEO. Will you help? • By Michael Gerber
I’d like to announce that I’m forming an exploratory committee for the possibility of my becoming CEO of Starbucks.
This is not because I love coffee; far from it. I haven’t had a cup of coffee since 1999, when my gastroenterologist told me in no uncertain terms to stop drinking it. Now I’m so sensitive to caffeine that four chocolate chips will make my head spin. I don’t really drink tea either. Even chamomile can give me the shakes, for reasons I’m not really clear on.
But this is exactly why I am throwing my hat in the ring. For too long, Starbucks has divided us. It has been a place only for people who like to drink coffee or tea, and maybe have a salad. Do they still have salads? I think they did at one time. Like I say, I’m never in there. Unless I have to use the bathroom.
Far from being a disadvantage, maybe an outsider’s perspective would be helpful, did you ever think of that? And also, “beginner’s luck” is a real thing. Otherwise we wouldn’t have words that mean that.
Now, before the naysayers and Twitter trolls come out, I want to say this right up front: I am a terrible businessman. I wrote this article for free. I haven’t balanced my checkbook for decades. In 1996, I was offered a job at a little startup called Amazon, but instead moved to New York to — get this — write print humor for magazines. Not only have I made awful decisions throughout my entire career, the businesses I have run have turned out…well, Ragnarok is a strong word, but not inappropriate.
And that’s exactly the type of person Starbucks needs as its new CEO. Someone who isn’t “in bed” with the profit motive, obsessed with the petty task of making money, but someone who can bring America together — possibly to keep Starbucks from going out of business. What Starbucks needs now is a generalist; someone who is not opposed to selling coffee, but also interested in other things — like improving the quality of the toilet paper in the Men’s Room. That’s something I can promise you.
I can already hear people saying, “Mike, Starbucks already has a CEO.” Maybe they do; I haven’t checked. But I remember an era where Starbucks was respected throughout the world, except for a few weirdos who thought it tasted burnt. I just feel that Starbucks’ dignity, its standing in the world, has gone down in the last couple of weeks, after this whole Howard Schultz thing. I feel that I can bring dignity back to Starbucks. And also, bring everyone together. We’ll all get together in the Men’s Room and say, “Man, that’s some soft TP.”
Given recent events, people are a little concerned about individuals with no prior experience being given high-level management positions, and I can understand why: Prejudice. Hasn’t America always been a place where a person can do anything, if they just dream hard enough? I didn’t come from a privileged background. When I was growing up, if you’d asked my family if they’d like a “half-caf quad-shot Venti skim latte” we would’ve looked at you like you were crazy. And you would’ve been crazy, because that didn’t exist. But times have changed, and thanks to America, so have I.
So I am asking everyone to rise above and consider my candidacy as Starbucks CEO, without any judgment as to my fitness or aptitude. Set aside what my likely failure would do to that company, the U.S. economy, and the world’s prosperity as a whole. The thing is, I want to do it, and that should be enough, shouldn’t it? Isn’t that what America is all about, white guys being able to do whatever they want? That’s what it’s always been about for me at least, and if those days are over, it’s not just Starbucks that will lose. It’ll be the whole United States of America. ◊
MICHAEL GERBER is the Editor & Publisher of The American Bystander, the all-star print humor quarterly. You can subscribe to it here.
This piece may appear in Bystander #10, or it may not, if Mike gets off his duff and writes a brand-new Publisher’s Letter.