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How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else


How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

you ever heard the inspirational quote from George Eliot:
“You’re never too old to be what you might have
been.”? Well, 60-something Michael Gates Gill is the walking
embodiment of it. Not too long ago, Gill sat alone with his
thoughts in an Upper East Side Starbucks, trying to figure out just
where his life went wrong. A few scant years before, he held a top
position at one of the best advertising agencies in the world. He
then ventured out on his own and started an agency, which ended in
financial disaster. His personal life was faring no better. An
affair threatened to end his 20-year marriage, and he had been
diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor with an unknown


How did Gill get to this place of despair? He had been groomed for
glory from the start. Growing up the son of esteemed New
writer Brendan Gill on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,
he enjoyed all the obvious advantages. He attended Yale and even
was a member of the elite and selective Skull & Bones society.
Not exactly the recipe for failure. He was no closer to an answer
when he was roused out of his reverie by a question.


“Would you like a job?”


The strange query was coming from a 28-year-old African-American
Starbucks manager named Crystal Thompson. Startled and somewhat
taken aback, Gill thinks about the question and then answers,
“Yes, I would like a job.” And so begins a
beautiful but unlikely friendship, as well as a new path in life
for Gill --- one with new friends, new skills and lots of foam.


HOW STARBUCKS SAVED MY LIFE recounts the remarkable reinvention of
an aging, downtrodden businessman into an enthusiastic, curious and
reinvigorated man. For the first time in his life, his is the
minority and has to learn a completely different skill set to help
him succeed amongst his co-workers, most of whom are decades
younger and have trouble relating to an older white guy from the
Upper East Side. Although at times the story can drift into feeling
like propaganda for the Starbucks corporation (They give even their
part-time employees benefits! They call their employees partners!),
the strongest and sweetest aspect of the story to emerge is the
unlikely but touching friendship formed between Gill and his
manager, Crystal.  


It truly is a testament to changing one’s life for the better
and finding happiness, friendship and wisdom in unexpected

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 22, 2011

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
by Michael Gates Gill

  • Publication Date: September 20, 2007
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham
  • ISBN-10: 1592402860
  • ISBN-13: 9781592402861