Wednesday Wisdom–Focus on the Possibilities

Thought it would be fun to share a little bit of knowledge from Kat Cole, Group President of FOCUS Brands, for our Wednesday Wisdom this week.  FOCUS Brands’ subsidiaries include such well known eateries as Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s, and Arby’s.  We have recently seen announcements in the hotel business and Lubbock that relate well to FOCUS Brands.  Over the summer, the Holiday Inn Express brand announced that it will soon feature at hotels Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (who can resist those?!), and a couple weeks ago the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce named local Schlotzsky’s-franchisee Chris Lonngren as 2017 Lubbock Business Person of the Year.  FOCUS Brands and its franchises are moving and shaking, and part of that success can be attributed to Cole.

Who is Kat Cole? 

Cole became president of Cinnabon at age 32 in 2011, and in 2015 became group president of FOCUS Brands.  In 2013 she was recognized in Fortune’s 40 under 40 top young business stars.  It’s quite a rise through the ranks for anyone, but even more-so for Cole who helped financially support her mother and sisters when she was growing up, and who got her start waitressing for Hooters.  By 26 years old, Cole was a vice president of the Hooters, overseeing the restaurant chain’s growth from 100 locations to 500 locations worldwide before moving to Cinnabon. 

What is Cole’s secret to success? 

In a leadership seminar, Cole said the “trick is to focus on things small enough to change and big enough to matter.”  She said that we often focus on too many things at once, so we need to pick the one thing to focus on first.  Cole also advocates heavily for helping others to see what’s beneficial to the company, and showing people what’s possible (she literally tries to find opportunities to demonstrate what’s possible to help others see it).  While Cole is very team-focused with her approach, she shared that it is similarly important to be your own self-coach in seeing the power of what’s possible.  Each day, Cole looks in the mirror and asks herself, “If a hotshot took over my job today, what is the one thing they would look at and say is unacceptable?”  Cole then asks herself to address it.  This helps her keep from being blinded by progress and to keep looking for and championing the possibilities. 

Looking in the mirror may not be bad advice.  Do you self-coach?  If you were your boss giving you some advice, what would you tell yourself?