Howard Behar is the former president of Starbucks Coffee Company North America and Starbucks Coffee International. He joined Starbucks in 1989 when the company had just begun to venture outside the Northwest region. Initially serving as vice president of sales and operations, he grew the retail business from 28 stores to more than 400 stores by the time he was named president of Starbucks Coffee International in 1995. Under Behar’s leadership, Starbucks opened its first location in Tokyo in 1996. Following this historic opening, over the next three years he introduced the Starbucks brand across Asia and the United Kingdom. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to Starbucks as President of Starbucks North America until his retirement in January 2003. He was a director of the Company from 1996 to 2008.
Howard Behar began his career in the furniture business where he discovered it was the people he loved, not the furniture. His sense of the customers as people, his concern for their needs, and his experience of being a part of people’s dreams for their homes and their lives helped him make the next successive moves in his retail career.
A frequent speaker on the topics of organizational and personal leadership, Mr. Behar serves on several profit and nonprofit boards, including Anna’s Linens, The Gap, Inc., Jewish Family Service of Seattle, and the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, and he is sponsoring a joint educational initiative with the University of Washington School of Social Work and the Business School. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Lynn, and he loves boating and spending time with his children and young grandchildren.
Howard Behar presents keynotes and leads thought-provoking Q&As with large and small audiences. Howard is committed to exchanging ideas and creating dialogue around the ways we lead ourselves and others in organizations today. He also addresses the role personal leadership plays in our individual lives. He speaks to corporate audiences, educational institutions, boards and governance groups, and nonprofit organizations seeking to challenge and inspire themselves.
"I heard from so many folks how much they enjoyed your keynote – both in your delivery (YOU have great energy!) as well as the content, including: "Best opening keynote of a conference - ever" and "So timely and helpful."
- Cheryl Nations, Creative Director, Univ. of Washington
"The CASE conferees were totally moved by your words, wisdom and rare authenticity. Those of us at the UW who claim you as our very own (i.e. basically, all of us), were popping buttons."
- Connie Kravas, Univ. of Washington
"Thank you so very much for the awesome keynote speech you gave last weekend. It was very highly rated and it contained some key messages about how to treat people. I like to think I'm a ‘Wear One Hat’ kind of guy. The description of that Principle resonates with me the most."
- Brian Scudmore, Founder and CEO, 1-800-Got-Junk
"'Fantastic event'...'blockbuster speaker'...It's no surprise that Howard topped all our speakers this year."
- Carla Johnson, Business Marketing Association of Colorado
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