The Way Po Sees It

"Failure's hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever." Sound familiar? You may've read it on your Starbucks cup. It's #26 in the company's series of "The Way I See It" aphorisms. (And I love the disclaimer at the bottom of the cup: "This is the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.") In this case, the bestselling author is Po Bronson, born and bred in Seattle, and an old schoolmate of mine. Now based in the Bay Area, he's moved from journalism and novels to self-help, having appeared on Oprah to pimp What Should I Do With My Life?

But why this particular quote, and why now for Starbucks and its valued customers? (Disclosure: I'm a regular tall-drip buyer.) We all know that Starbucks is struggling--its stock down, the erosion of "mission," same-store sales declining, layoffs here in Seattle and elsewhere, and many customers turning away from its expensive drinks (and music and gifts and knick-knacks) during our current recession. Yes, Po (and Howard Schultz), failure is hard.

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