Business, Politics & Society

Don't Pioneer. Disrupt.

Howard Schultz

Lesson time 07:57 min

Howard shares his thoughts on a question he gets from entrepreneurs: Should I disrupt an existing category or start a new one?

Howard Schultz
Business Leadership
Former Starbucks CEO shares lessons from nearly 40 years of leading one of the world’s top brands.
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Build a Business That Lasts

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rose from a childhood in public housing to leading a company that revolutionized the way the world drinks coffee. With no formal business education, he relied on his values while growing a 13-store chain into a global brand with more than 250,000 employees. In his 90-minute video series, Howard shares what he’s learned about business leadership and being an entrepreneur.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

A point of views of entereprenuer sight from starting the business and then manage them to sustain & growing

It "activates" the mindset of my inner entrepreneur :-)

actually, I have the spirit of adventure like Maya. but I always hesitate about the future if I lost my money, and time. but I'll try my dream and believe myself. thank you very much for your advice.

great information from an experienced business leader, moving from 75 stores to 30,000. big lesson are the two empty seats in the board meeting for human resource and customer


A fellow student

I almost fell off my chair when he spoke about the "pet" niche. Back in 1979 my soon to be husband owned an insurance agency and I went to him and his partner one day and told them they should design a pet insurance program as I see how much money people put into their pets and to have an insurance program for them would be beneficial to everyone.....They laughed at me. My now, X-husband, still talks about that day and how he didn't listen to me. I guess my point is if I hadn't listened to them and tried to do it on my own I'd be the one who disrupted the pet industry. In short, my bad for not following through with my own dream.

Ekin Ö.

Sometimes it may be easier to pioneer than to disrupt. Creating a business that does not have any competitors is a significant advantage. Other times, it may be safer to go the way to disrupt.

Tyler S.

Look carefully at 5:06...What would it be like to be a fly on the able while Howard gives key business advice?

Etienne B.

Maybe a mix of both disrupting and pioneering is a good way to do business. Doing the basics every company in the sector did, as well as avoiding mistakes they did, but implement your own personal idea to change the niche. Thoughts on that?


Great advice and discussion. I worked my way up from poverty through low-end blue collar to a successful business. Always looking to improve. I feel his advice here is boiling down the essence of the fundamental goals of a his organization and making sure to hire folks that understand and agree with those goals; then designing the equity of the company to ensure the folks hired share in the success of the company. It's not ground breaking, but one of those things that organizations can lose sight of in hiring decisions and the implementation of complex processes. Great stuff!

RJane @.

There are a lot of disrupters on Amazon, eBay and Etsy. The problem is we hesitate to buy the product because the company/seller is not familiar to us. We question the quality of its product and presentation of the company/seller. @RJanesRealm

George B.

To everyone in this comment section: I'd love to hear all of your business adventures, and how you learnt from previous endeavours :)

Marty F.

Yes I felt too disrupt is better. Possibly before even deciding on a sector and even product like myself research info info competitors. Although as you mention identifying a high future growth potential sector will possibly tilt the odds slightly more in your favour to succeed. Glad I came to a great place for info. Gather gather information and possibly why you are deciding register your brand trademark in more than one territory with a special consideration for China and the US as the market sector is large.

Dianna Z.

Great ideas! I really like this format for this topic too, like sitting in a cafe with a mentor, just soaking up everything he's saying.

Carol D.

Thanks, Howard! This lesson gave me a few super important insights for a work assignment I have taken up. I would have totally overlooked some of these crucial elements, otherwise.