Brandon Dennison, "Planting Hope in the Coalfield" / Starbucks "Upstanders"

Road trips by executives who are potential 2020 presidential candidates is becoming a thing ... Starbucks today releases "Upstanders Season 2," an original online video series featuring 11 stories of "courage and humanity," from Montana and Utah, to Ohio and West Virginia. It's written and produced by Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks executive producer and a former senior WashPost editor.

Schultz gets extra attention because he's a plausible Democratic presidential candidate. The WashPost noted last month: "Schultz ... recently penned an op-ed after the tragedy in Charlottesville and traveled to Houston after Hurricane Harvey. And he's offered pretty flimsy denials about whether he will run."

We talked by phone with Howard and Rajiv yesterday for a sneak peek:

  • Howard: "Last year when we launched 'Upstanders,' I don't think we had any understanding about what the reach would be, in terms of literally the tens of millions of people who watched the original series ... [T]he American people longing for uplifting, truthful stories."
  • A Howard favorite: "Rajiv and I were both struck by the despair and the hopelessness of what's happened in West Virginia as a result of coal mining going away ... And yet, we met a young man [Brandon Dennison] who's from West Virginia, has an M.B.A., has a bright future and came back home to start what I would loosely call an 'entrepreneurial lab' ... to create new jobs."
  • Rajiv: "Howard and I travelled to West Virginia earlier this year. We spent two days on the ground, and we didn't go in knowing the story we were going to tell. ... [W]e travelled kind of the breadth of the state together, and it was in Huntington ... where we met Brandon Dennison, and discovered this great story."

The series is available online here, Amazon Prime Video and Audible.

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