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Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and the sunbird model of entrepreneurship (Video)

Learn more at KMWorld 2019, coming to Washington, DC., Nov. 5-7.

Watch the complete video of this keynote, Entrepreneurial Skills for Knowledge Sharing in the KMWorld Conference 2018 Video Portal.

There are many characteristics and behaviors that lead to successful outcomes for people in organizations, according to Amy Wilkinson, who delivered the opening keynote at KMWorld 2018. In her keynote, she highlighted one approach to success that she described as the “sunbird.”

Wilkinson is founder and CEO of Ingenuity, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.

“You need to scratch the itch of curiosity, right? And that means you can't be a completely blank slate. You have to know a little something. A 5-year-old knows a little something, right? The 5-year-old has been out in the world experiencing things. So you can keep asking questions, the curiosity itch. You can't think that you know everything. If you believe you know everything, you stop scratching the itch, right? So that's the first thing: just ask questions.”

According to Wilkinson, her research shows that there are three ways that people discover new opportunities, one of which is the sunbird, exemplified by Starbucks’ former CEO Howard Schultz.

“A bird picks something up, flies it over and reapplies it somewhere else. It's the cross-pollination or cross-fertilization of ideas. And in the world marketplace, what Howard Schultz does is he goes to a conference. He is in Italy and what he notices is [that] from his hotel to the conference location where he's walking, all the Italians are stopping at the coffee shop and so he stops in there for the days that he's going to the conference and realizes that's the third place people go. If home is your first place, and the office is your second place, the third location—this is the basis of Starbucks—the third place you'd go in your day is a coffee house.”

But according to Wilkinson, when Starbucks was first launched it was not a runaway success. “So he sees this going on in Italy. It is not existing in Seattle at the time—I grew up in Tacoma, WA, so just south of Seattle. He brings this into the Seattle area and what people don't realize is he didn't get it right the first time. So he did an exact copy paste, right? He did an exact Italian-looking coffee house. And so it had opera music in the background, and a stand-up bar and white porcelain cups and bow tie-clad waiters—and that actually didn't work in Seattle. Seattle's very casual, right? It rains all the time, feels like today in Washington. People are wearing GORE-TEX jackets, they're casual—they want to hang out.”

According to Wilkinson, “what you have to do with this is see a working model. Pick it up, transport it, and do a twist on it. And all of us can look for things that work in the world and then reapply them. You can move ideas, in this case, across geographies. He obviously does a twist on it and we know what Starbucks looks like today. It is still the third location. That's the basis of that business.”

Many speakers have made their presentations available at www.kmworld.com/Conference/2018/Presentations.aspx.

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