Michael Gates Gill | Bestselling author of How Starbucks Saved My Life
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Nearing retirement, Michael Gates Gill lost it all. A Yale-educated ad exec, Gill was let go from his job (ostensibly for being old), saw his marriage disintegrate, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the age of 63, desperate and without health insurance, he found redemption and a new sense of purpose where he least expected: behind the counter of a Starbucks. 

Michael Gates Gill tells his inspiring story in How Starbucks Saved My Life, an instant bestseller that has struck a chord with a large segment of middle aged and older Americans—and which will soon be a film, starring Tom Hanks. His latest book, How to Save Your Own Life, deals with specific life lessons on how individuals can create the best times out of the worst of times. Gill’s empowering personal testimony is full of inspiring and practical examples of how to move forward in life to new happiness and fulfillment at any age—despite all of life’s greatest challenges.


“He is articulate, charming. Surprisingly, for a fellow who once socialized with Frank Lloyd Wright and the Kennedys, and had clients like Ford and Christian Dior, he is not at all defensive about being a coffee jock.”

The New York Times

Gill is the son of famous New Yorker writer Brendan Gill and, growing up, his social company included the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Jacqueline Onassis. Today, he lives in a simple apartment, close to his work, and he counts himself both lucky and blessed. Gill’s motivational story proves that it’s never too late to change your life, and that even at an older age, it is still possible to learn more about yourself.    

Speech Topics

How Starbucks Saved My Life

Late in life, unemployed, and unemployable, Michael Gates Gill, an “old, opinionated white guy,” becomes a barista and sees his old world slowly fall away, for the better. In this talk, Gill shares his tale of personal transformation and the lessons he walked away with: the inherent value of hard work; being open to new possibilities, whatever your age; learning from people who are different from you; the fact that, deep down, differences matter less than what we have in common. Gill’s varied work experience—from being a creative director at a famous ad firm to working for an hourly wage as the only older white male alongside younger African-Americans—gives him insight into many of today’s hot button workplace issues: racism, ageism, classism, boomer concerns, and corporate accountability. He speaks with humility, gratitude, and good humor about his fall from grace, and the new—better—person he has become because of it.

How to Save Your Own Life

In this inspiring talk, based on his book of the same name, Michael Gates Gill discusses the power of positive thinking, even when everything around you seems to be going wrong. Gill shares his remarkable story with the audience, and explains how he overcame losing his job, his home, and being diagnosed with a tumor, and created a happier and more fulfilling life for himself. Gill helps his audiences understand that despite how dire a situation may seem, there is always opportunity in crisis and you have the power to save your own life.