Tribal Knowledge: Buy It

John Moore’s first book “Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed from the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture” is an awesome read.

John worked in marketing Starbucks for 8 years, then left to work at Whole Foods for a couple of years. He then left to pursue his Brand Autopsy marketing practice and to write “Tribal Knowledge.”

John accomplished his original intent of the book: To document the unwritten rules, guidelines, brand guardrails, and the other do’s-and-don’ts of working at Starbucks.

He discusses the stuff that we learned only after years of working at Starbucks… sometimes through trial-and-error… Sometimes from a great supervisor… And often directly from the company founders… Howard Schultz (brains), Howard Behar (heart) and Dave Olsen (soul/coffee).

This isn’t the material of company handbooks… It’s what you get if you could read between the lines… John has done a terrific job capturing this behind-the-scene thinking. The topics John discusses truly are what started and grew Starbucks as a group of people, as a company, and as a brand.

While the Starbucks fan will find the book engaging, they’re not the intended audience. The true target reader for this book is anyone at any business who…

  • cares about quality,
  • cares about the customer experience,
  • cares about the the details,
  • cares about keeping what you have special, and
  • is passionate about what they do.

You will be able to relate, and apply the lesson’s learned from, Starbucks to your own business. This isn’t just a marketing book either… Because operations and marketing are strongly linked at Starbucks, you’ll get as much out of Tribal Knowledge if you lead a group of front-line employees or manage marketing programs.

This book is not authorized by Starbucks. John wanted to be able to write autonomously without potential approval from the company. John explains the lessons, provides real-life examples, and even shares stories from when Starbucks didn’t follow their own lessons.

His love and knowledge of the brand come through… and you benefit from his ability to distill the ideas into something that you can immediately use at your own organization.

Finally… John wants the book to be a conversation starter… a kind of book you can use, not simply read. His Tribal Knowledge ( website allows discussion for each of the chapters of the book… questions, discussion, a “I don’t believe you,” or whatever comments you have are welcome.

John Moore Fun Fact
John is better known as “johnmoore” – one word… all lowercase. In fact, in his voicemail message at Starbucks he would spell out his full name… Folks knew him as “jay oh aych en, em double-oh are ee.”

If you’ve read the book, do you have any thoughts? Comments?