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Tribal Knowledge, by John Moore

Tribal_knowledgeI mentioned John Moore's Tribal Knowledge book in an earlier post as a great example of how to build an effective companion website.  I finished reading the book last night and give it high marks for being full of valuable information.

Each chapter is very short and focuses on one particular lesson learned from Moore's years as a marketer with Starbucks.  Unlike that other Starbucks book I read and reviewed earlier this year, this one reads much more like an unauthorized account as opposed to "official corporate policy."

Moore concludes each chapter with a series of relevant questions.  Here's one that really jumped out at me, for example:

If you freed up advertising dollars to be spent elsewhere within your marketing budget, how best would you allocate the money to focus more on being and doing rather than saying?

He also explains how Starbucks continues to challenge itself.  Rather than being content as the leading coffee shop chain, they look at "making the transition from Starbucks as coffee 'brand' to Starbucks as beverage 'icon'."  So instead of owning the majority market share in the coffee world, they prefer to look at themselves as "an upstart, competing against the old-school beverage icons like Coke and Pepsi."

Moore gives great insight to the human side of Starbucks and what characteristics are common in the best employees.  He also talks a bit about why employees leave.  As he puts it, "people quit people, not companies.  It's the person on the ground, not the board of directors on the eighth floor of corporate headquarters, who represents the company to your employees."  How true.

If you're looking to get the inside scoop on what makes Starbucks special, this is the book to read.  But I'd also recommend it to anyone who wants to learn countless bits of wisdom that can be applied to just about any business.


johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy)

Thanks Joe. Glad to see this one-year-old book still has "review" legs.

That line about "People Quit People, Not Companies" is from a boss I had at Starbucks. He was so right.

This same boss also crystallized my thinking about the importance of finding a job/company that engages both the heart and the mind. There aren't too many jobs or companies that are able to engage both the heart and the mind of an employee. I was fortunate to find a role within Starbucks that engaged both my heart and mind. Good times then ... good times.

John Stavely

Great post! I'm buying the book now. As we transition from the old to the new in business, insights like these are valuable. Unfortunately, many stakeholders will defend the old at the expense of their company.


That's fascinating to think of Starbuck's positioning itself internally as a startup. It would be so easy for a company that entrenched in one segment of the market to get fat and lazy. Pretty amazing that the company is able to maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.

ajit Sharma

Hi Joe,
I had just written about starbucks fall from the forbes list and then i saw your post about this book and the excellent review you wrote.
i have shared it on my blog at the following link:
Best regards

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