July 30, 2015 Sustainability

Blue Angels Pilots Discuss Mission and Teamwork at Starbucks Headquarters

Walking through Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, one word caught the eye of Blue Angels’ team leader – inspire.

Captain Thomas Frosch, flight leader and commanding officer of United States Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, noticed the word in large letters on the ninth floor of the Starbucks Support Center because both Starbucks and the Blue Angels have the word “inspire” as part of their mission statements.

Starbucks mission is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” While for the Blue Angels it is, “To showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”

“I’ve been in hundreds of Starbucks stores around the country, and it’s clear to me that baristas are living the Starbucks mission statement, just as we live ours,” said Capt. Frosch. “It’s a pleasure to spend some time today with another organization that stands for excellence.”

Several members of the Blue Angels 130-person precision demonstration squad took a break from preparing for this weekend’s Boeing Seafair Air Show – a coffee break, with a formal tasting of Starbucks Reserve® Gravitas Blend No.1. Four of the F/A-18 pilots also talked with partners about teamwork.

Capt. Frosch noted there were other parallels between the Blue Angels and Starbucks. Unlike most companies, Starbucks uses the term “partners” to describe its people rather than “employees.” That’s been the case since 1991, when all partners, at every level of the company, became eligible to receive an annual grant of company stock through Starbucks Bean Stock program. Similarly, each  enlisted member of the Blue Angels is referred to by their first name, rather than by their military title and last name.

Each member of the Blue Angels, whether officer or enlisted, is hand-picked from the fleet to be part of the team. Serving in a two or three-year rotation, this select group travels across the country and around the world to perform for millions of spectators.

“We are driven to keep the legacy and mission of the Blue Angels going year after year. We maintain the mindset that our popularity is not about any individual. It’s about the team which is a reflection of Navy and Marine Corps values,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Barton, pilot 4, slot. “We end every conversation with ‘glad to be here,’ as a reminder to ourselves and others on the team that we chose to do follow our mission every day.”

When asked what advice he’d give to a Starbucks partner – whether he or she is part of a store team or working in the company’s headquarters – Lt. Andrew Talbott, pilot 3, left wing said, “Stay humble, be open to constructive criticism and support one another.”

The Blue Angels team who visited Starbucks also heard about the company’s commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018, the Starbucks Honor Wall, and the partner affiliation group called the Armed Forces Network. Read more in this Starbucks Newsroom online magazine: Paying Tribute and Creating Opportunity


Flight photos courtesy the U.S. Navy Blue Angels

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom