Born in Brooklyn, New York, Schultz was the child of two high-school dropouts and grew up in the projects. His father was a blue-collar worker and made no more than $20,000 per year.
In Schultz's interview with Business Insider, he recalls at age seven, coming home from school one day to his father "laying on the couch with a cast from his hip to his ankle." The father, an army vet and a truck driver, attained the injury at work and received no workman's compensation, severance, or any health insurance. Schultz saw the pain and suffering his mother and father went through just to put food on the table and that lit a spark in him. That moment has stuck with him his entire life.
Thanks to his mother's encouragement, he earned an athletic scholarship to pursue a greater education in college. At Northern Michigan University, he ended up not playing any sports and mainly focused on his studies.
To pay for his college tuition he worked as a bartender and he even sold blood.
It was the early 1980's when Schultz's life took a turn. He joined Starbucks. At the time, the founders were solid on their plan to keep it a regional chain like Peet's Coffee, but Schultz had an ambitious goal in mind. He proposed to the founders that Starbucks could thrive internationally, but couldn't sway their opinions. Schultz left in the mid-'80s because of the disagreement.
Not long after, in 1987, Schultz acquired Starbucks because the founders wanted to focus their energy on Peet's.
With the Starbucks brand in hand and 17 locations to work with, Schultz began his quest on turning Starbucks international. At this point in time, this endeavor was the most ambitious, risky expansion in history.
With inspiration from Italian culture, Schultz made his sizes grande and venti with hopes of making his brand more sophisticated and real. It worked. People weren't just buying for the great tasting coffee. The names and meanings behind Starbucks sold itself.
Between 1998 and 2008, Starbucks took off. They went from 1,886 stores to 16,680.
Fast forward to 2017 and Starbucks had more than 27,300 stores in 75 different countries. With revenues estimated at $22.4 billion and a market cap at $84 billion, Starbucks is now a global brand, dominating more each year.
In 2019, the company's market value increased by roughly 41% to an astonishing $110.2 billion and the company continues to grow into the early stages of 2020.
Howard Schultz's net worth is now estimated at $4.6 billion.
There is a common theme amongst most successful people and that is coming up from nothing. Schultz thanks his humble beginnings for the success he now has. If it wasn't for his roots motivating him, he may not have taken the risk that he took with Starbucks and turning it into an international brand.