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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Starbucks’ author speaks on life

    Michael Gates Gill, author of the national best selling book, How Starbucks Saved My Life, tells of the trials and inspirations that molded the idea for the book during a signing event in the UA Bookstore yesterday afternoon.
    Michael Gates Gill, author of the national best selling book, “”How Starbucks Saved My Life,”” tells of the trials and inspirations that molded the idea for the book during a signing event in the UA Bookstore yesterday afternoon.

    While many people find Starbucks appealing, most cannot claim that the coffee giant saved their life – except Michael Gates Gill.

    The 68-year-old author of the book, “”How Starbucks Saved My Life,”” spoke to an audience of students and faculty yesterday at the UofA Bookstore.

    Arranged in the north wing of the bookstore, adjacent to the new Starbucks, Gill spoke of his new publication in an area decorated by a reading chair, a university lamp and several Starbucks coffee cups.

    “”There was a spontaneous intervention in my life,”” Gill said of his fall from advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson to his rise as a Starbucks barista. “”I realized I was going to be a minority for the first time in my life.””

    Published in September of last year, “”Starbucks”” details Gill’s life, from being fired at J. Walter Thompson to being hired by manager Crystal Thompson at Starbucks. During his book signing, Gill spoke of his experiences, eliciting laughs from the audience and fielding questions from eager students.

    “”It was really exciting,”” said Heidi Kim, an education sophomore and Starbucks barista. “”It was a really touching book for me. It was cool to get to meet him in person and see that he still lives by everything he says in his book.””

    Gill gave anecdotes from his life and his book regarding his experiences with issues of race and class, while frequently jesting with members of the audience.

    “”Today I can detail a bathroom like a Ferrari,”” Gill said.

    “”Have everyone fill out job applications,”” he advised. “”It’s scary to fill out a job application at 63.””

    “”It was a great opportunity to have him here,”” said Chris Schafer, program coordinator of the bookstore. “”Many people were very excited.””

    Not all attendees, however, were aware of Gill before the event, but were attracted to stay after hearing portions of Gill’s life story.

    “”I thought it was really interesting. I met him today and he told me briefly about his story, and it was enough to get me to stay,”” said Ryan Washko, a pre-business junior. “”He is very inspiring. Growing up, everybody wants to have an Ivy League education, a big house, everything nice, and he traded it all in for Starbucks.””

    While getting his book signed, Washko was reimbursed $20 by Gill, who insisted that he repay him for the cost of the book.

    “”I talked to him a lot … at the hotel where he was staying … and he said he would buy the book. It was cool,”” Washko said, in reference to the reimbursement.

    This is not the first university Gill has visited, but he urged students and faculty to feel blessed to be part of such a school.

    In 2006, before the book was even fully published, actor Tom Hanks purchased the film rights to “”Starbucks”” and is expected to play the lead role in a 2009 release.

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