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Discover Your True North by Bill George

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1Your Life Story

The reservoir of all my life experiences shaped me as a person and a leader.

—Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks

The journey to authentic leadership begins with understanding yourself: your life stories, crucibles, and setbacks. This knowledge gives you the self-awareness to discover your True North.

Howard Schultz's Leadership Journey

In the winter of 1961, 7-year-old Howard Schultz was throwing snowballs with friends outside his family's apartment building in the federally subsidized Bayview Housing Projects in Brooklyn, New York. His mother yelled down from their seventh-floor apartment, “Howard, come inside. Dad had an accident.” What followed has shaped Schultz throughout his life.

He found his father in a full-leg cast, sprawled on the living room couch. While working as a delivery driver, Schultz's father had fallen on a sheet of ice and broken his ankle. As a result, he lost his job—and the family's health care benefits. Schultz's mother could not go to work because she was seven months pregnant. His family had nothing to fall back on. Many evenings, Schultz listened as his parents argued at the dinner table about how much money they needed to borrow. If the telephone rang, his mother asked him to tell the bill collectors his parents were not at home.

Schultz vowed he would do things differently. He dreamed of building “a company my father would be proud to work at” that treated its employees well and provided health care benefits. Little did he realize ...

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