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TheStreet Open House

Sozzi: Watch What Happens When We Ask: Who IS Howard Schultz?

Stocks in this article: SBUXWMTAAPLFB

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Becoming an all-time great in any field requires a couple things. The most apparent is a work ethic that is never really at rest. Even when home on a Sunday afternoon BBQing with the family, the visionary's brain is thinking about the challenges of the business and ways to overcome them and win, win versus rivals and win the battles against one's own internal expectations. However, there are at least five not-so-obvious essential ingredients that characterize all-time greats, either in the business community or on the field of a major sport. Starbucks' (SBUX) Howard Schultz displays a portfolio of winning traits.

Another hallmark of an all-time great? Everyone instantly knows who you are and why you are an all-time great. I would bet that many folks are aware of what Walmart's (WMT) Sam Walton did, that Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs created their mobile devices, and Mark Zuckerberg is the young man behind their photo posting obsession on Facebook (FB) and Instagram. Apparently, though, Howard Schultz isn't as mainstream as I thought, which is the key takeaway from morphing into a man on the street in the above video.

Anyway, here is how I creepily decoded Schultz's winning characteristics.

An Intense Innovative Mind

To be an all-time great, as Schultz clearly is, each aspect of the business has to create something that wasn't necessarily in the marketplace before. For example:

  • Schultz has trained an entire generation on why they need premium coffee, and shortly tea, in their lives 5-10x a week. In fact, a Starbucks loyalist on average visits the place 20x a month according to studies.
  • From new iced drinks to new foods, Starbucks is releasing products on a global scale that are not being sold elsewhere.
  • Starbucks stores are starting to take on the vibe of the local community. Cookie cutter they are not, and that is impressive due to the massive operation that is Starbucks.
  • Starbucks is so far ahead of its peers in the mall and off the mall on mobile payment it's laughable, and that will allow the company to be early beneficiaries of the looming wearable device and smart dashboard (car) movements.

A Larger Than Life Persona That Embeds Itself in the Stores

Poll a group of Starbucks employees on who Howard Schultz is, I guarantee each one has at least three talking points. Obviously that doesn't necessarily apply to folks not in the store or business community, but you get where I am coming from on this topic.

How has Schultz been able to penetrate lives? It's a function of the man himself:

  • A great, inspirational public speaker that has his every public comment tracked.
  • Comes across as an extremely passionate 4% owner/founder of Starbucks that you would enjoy having a latte with on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
  • People search out Howard Schultz quotes and plaster them on Twitter and Facebook hoping to secure retweets and likes by sharing the founder's inspiration.
  • With each cup of Starbucks, Schultz has connected himself to your daily life. Think on it for a second: Schultz has an intimate relationship with you!
-- By Brian Sozzi CEO of Belus Capital Advisors, analyst to TheStreet.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

At the time of publication, Sozzi held no position in the stocks mentioned.

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