The public face of Starbucks may be a mermaid with long green locks and a star-topped crown, but behind the barista counters, it's been people like Howard Behar, not mythical creatures, pushing the coffee chain to success. Behar, former president of Starbucks' North American and international divisions, will speak at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock about his approach to cultivating the company.

The free, public talk is titled “People Over Profits: Principles of Personal Leadership,” and draws from Behar's 2007 book, It's Not About the Coffee: Leadership Lessons From a Life at Starbucks. Behar began at Starbucks in 1989, when the company had only 28 locations, all in the Northwest. Today, it owns more than 17,000 locations around the world, including Japan, Russia and South Korea.

In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Behar acknowledged the implications of such drastic expansion. “[M]ore stores and our problems are more exposed,” he said. “When we were a small little company, everyone was rooting for you and you could do no wrong. Then you get big, and you can almost do no right.”

The company's newest venture is to sell beer, wine and an expanded menu at select locations.

LA Weekly