The Latte Factor

What would it be like to simplify your life? The New York Times has the story of a guy who did it- in a truly radical way. Micheal Gates Gill was a high-level advertising executive making $160,000 a year, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and living the high life. Through a couple of life events, the man went from living in a house with practically its own zip code to retrieving his mail from his apartment's cbu mailboxes. He now earns about $10.50 an hour working at Starbucks. Why, and how could this happen? Gill chronicles his story of simplifying his life in his new book How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.

One insight from the news story:
(After getting the job a Starbucks) He enters a world in which employees are called “partners,” customers are “guests” and, most impressive to Mr. Gill, everyone seems to be treated with respect, even homeless people who need to use the bathroom. It is also a world where everything, even cleaning grubby tiles, is given a positive spin.

“We have a grout problem,” the manager said one day. “Or maybe I should say we have a grout opportunity.”

When the manager showed him how to clean the toilet, he was “surprised by how little revulsion I felt for a job I would have previously thought beneath me.” He had fallen, he writes, into a job “where people could be nicer and the work environment better than I had ever believed possible.” To his astonishment, he realized he was happier than he had ever been.
Kinda turns the world's ideas of what brings happiness on its head, huh?


Anonymous said...

It is sad to say, but the now happy executive would not be employed unless there were people like he used to be willing to pay the extraordinary, "non-simple life" price for Starbuck's coffee.


Becca said...

I love your post and the book sounds great, but chuck definitely made a noteworthy point there. I'm reading another great book you would probably like: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Joanna said...

Oh, Animal Vegetable Miracle is definitely already on my Christmas list! I'm really looking forward to getting a hold of it- I've heard such great things.

And, I'm not a fan of the "Starbucks culture" (or prices!) but the idea of someone simplifying their life in such an extreme way-and the perspective that provides- is interesting.


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