Howard Behar: Life Outside the Cookie Cutter

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“Every day I want to nurture and inspire the human spirit beginning with myself first and then for others. I say self, first, because I found out that if you’re not ok physically, emotionally and mentally with yourself it’s hard to help someone else.”

Meet Howard Behar…former Starbucks International President.

The quote above represents his mission statement, something he repeats to himself daily as a reminder of his life’s purpose: then and now.

Not exactly what you’d expect from one of the three executives responsible for taking the coffee giant from a small regional chain to an international powerhouse.

Anyone from Seattle is as familiar with the Starbuck’s “backstory” as they are ordering their favorite drink. Or at least I am.

Howard Schultz was the visionary, Howard Behar the soul and Orin Smith the financial.

 

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Homeless in Seattle

Have you heard of The Jungle in Seattle?

When you think of Seattle, maybe you conjure images of the Space Needle or some cool high-tech place, or mountains or lakes, Evergreen trees and rain.

The Jungle I’m referring to is a lawless homeless encampment along the elevated section of Interstate 5 that snakes into Seattle and has become the underbelly where hundreds of people live in tents and makeshift structures…

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Battle of the EpiPen

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Can we talk about the exorbitant cost of EpiPens?

I’ve probably bored you already.

Let’s face it: Another person whining about the high cost of health care in America.

Hell yes I’m complaining! I just had to pay $440 for two EpiPens so my son, um, won’t die if he inadvertently eats a tree nut.

According to the FARE (Food, Allergy, Research and Education) website, researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies and that this potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom.

But did you know that State law requires all students with life-threatening health conditions, such as nut allergies, to have medication for each child prior to attending school?

What if you can’t afford one?

 

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Snoop Dogg in Seattle

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The other day I was at Starbuck’s when I ran into a “mom” friend. “Carolyn, we loved your column on Burger Addict,” she said, “we would have never gone there if it weren’t for you.”

My friend was referring to a piece I’d written about a new hole in the wall burger joint next to a biker bar that just so happens to feature a Michelin star chef.

“That’s why I love what I do…finding gems in the most unexpected places,” I replied as I envisioned her bringing her family for a meal in a decrepit strip mall next to a biker bar. “The place was a real dive but the burgers and the chef’s story was amazing.”

“We trust you, Carolyn.” The woman said, using the royal, “We.”

It feels good to be trusted. But trust is a funny thing.

I love what I do. I’m a mom to five and I am the sole food columnist for the community paper in my city of Renton, Washington.

I don’t live in necessarily a small city. But like, say, Staten Island, 15 miles away from Seattle, Renton is always in the shadow of her big sister…we don’t have a dump, but we have a long history of coal mining, blue collars and mullets that we just can’t shake.

Which is to say that stories aren’t always “low hanging fruit”, ripe for the picking and I guess that suits my personality fine, I love doing the leg work. I love being aware of what’s going on in my community. My eyes are perpetually peeled for stories about people from all walks of life doing unexpected things that inspire me.

 

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