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The Standout Experience

34 EpisodesProduced by John WalshWebsite

The Standout Experience will inspire and help you to go beyond the norm and Standout in your career and in life. Each week, we bring you incredible Standout people and world-class experts who share their best ideas, top strategies, and ready-to-use tactics that will help you reach your potential and… read more


Ep 33 From Barista to Boardroom with Christine McHugh

Some people seek out leadership. Others find themselves in it. Christine McHugh is one of those individuals who walked the walk right into the top of her industry. Her journey has had ups and downs, but her consistent character and valuing of people paved the way for her success.

Christine grew up in a single-parent household. Surrounded by civil servants, it is easy to see how her deeply rooted sense of service and empathy formed. While attending a community college, she interviewed for a position as a barista at Starbucks. After a 30-year career with the company, she rounded out her time with Starbucks in an executive position, literally going from barista to the boardroom; not to mention everything in between. She is currently an entrepreneur, executive coach, author, and runner, just to name a few of the hats she wears.

We often explore what makes individuals stand out. What separates them from their peers and causes them to rise? While a role may require specific skill sets, there are a few things that transcend position. Curiosity is foundational. You have to ask questions, so you can understand and discover how to move forward. Taking responsibility for yourself and building your tool belt is key. A leader goes out of their way to learn the ins and outs of how things work and what makes them do well.

In the service industry, technology may have changed, but one thing has not. No matter your position, being service-oriented in every arena of life will cause you to stand out among the crowd. The human connection is what truly makes the difference. People build loyalty to a company or brand because of how they are treated.  It is not enough to be fast and efficient. Caring for the person in front of you and welcoming them, and meeting their individual need is what makes companies stand out.

Being transactional is not enough. Leaders create culture. That culture is built on what they value, not just what they say. If a leader values empathy, curiosity, and relationship building, their culture will foster these values. A culture that deems these values as important will take them beyond the walls of the company. They will interact with others from this point of value, from coworkers to vendors.

Never stop learning. Never stop valuing people. When you care about your people, your organization, and your culture, your vision will take care of itself. Lead with self-awareness, walk in your strength and surround yourself with individuals who can fill in the gaps. Know what you value and lead from that place of strength.

If you can take anything away from Christine and apply it immediately, it is this: If you work with a team, go right now and thank them. Thank them for what they do and how they do it. Value them and help build a culture that is founded on value.

Rise. Shine. Impact. Be curious, take responsibility, and value others.


From Barista to Boardroom: Lessons about Life and Leadership from a Career in Coffee by Christine C. McHugh

Connect with Christine




Instagram: (running)

Instagram: (consulting)


Connect with John:

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