How Starbucks Saved My Life
by Michael Gill
Michael Gill has served Starbucks and himself well with his 'riches-to-rags story of a man who had it all, then lost it all, and found it again', the subtitle of his memoir. Not only has his book, How Starbucks Saved My Life, made it onto best-seller lists and been a free advertisement for the coffee chain. It will soon be made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks, which will provide even more product-placement opportunities. The move to the big screen is a no-brainer. Gill's story contains all the right ingredients: Yale University graduate Gill, the privileged son of writer Brendan Gill, worked his way up through advertising behemoth J. Walter Thompson until he was making US$160,000 a year as an executive. Age, however, showed him the door and led to a spiral culminating in his unemployment (a consultancy firm he began foundered), divorce (he had an affair, which resulted in his fifth child) and ill health (he developed a rare brain tumour). Whiling away time at a Starbucks outlet one day, Gill, then 64, was offered a job by a young black woman in charge of a recruitment drive. The rest is froth on a cappuccino. Gill finds pleasure in serving others, makes real friends and turns his bad luck round by becoming one of the company's best assets.