When Howard Schultz stepped down from the board and his role as executive chairman of Starbucks (SBUX) in June, there was speculation that he might be eyeing a presidential run in 2020.
“I’ll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds,” Schultz wrote in a company-wide memo at the time. Schultz was chairman and CEO from 1987-2000, and again from 2008 to 2017. He is now chairman emeritus of the company.
In an interview ahead of the opening of Starbucks’s Milan Reserve Roastery this week, Yahoo Finance asked Schultz what his plans are now that the summer is almost over.
“I think it’s important to say I do not have to run for president to improve the lives of others,” Schultz responded. “And so I’m looking at a range of options and we’ll just see what happens. It’s still very early in this process for me.”
When asked how it feels when people question if he’ll run or encourage him to run, he said it’s “very humbling.”
“[When] I think about that question and the environment we’re in today, regardless of who ultimately is the president in 2020, I think it’s critically important, in view of a very fragile nature of the world we’re living in, and America’s position in the world, and America’s role in the world, and America’s standing in the world, that the right person, the right person is the next president of the United States,” Schultz said.
Schultz traveled the world over the course of his career at the Seattle coffee giant. And in that time, he’s seen how America’s standing has shifted.
“[In] my speech yesterday I talked about, the most important asset of building any company is the culture and the values and guiding principles and the currency of that is trust,” Schultz said. “And I think that is applicable to a country — the culture of the country and the trust that people are going to have in us as a nation. And I think we are in an environment right now where, unfortunately, many of our allies and many of our relationships are being questioned, and we have to do everything we can to restore and reaffirm our position in the world. So it’s a very important time in the world because of how fragile it is and certainly, an important time for America to demonstrate the importance of American values not only here at home but also around the world.”
Schultz, 65, spoke to Yahoo Finance in Milan ahead of the grand opening of Starbucks’s Roastery. This is the company’s first entry into the Italian market, the place where Schultz was inspired to build the modern-day Starbucks.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.