卡特·科尔是私募股权公司Focus Brands北美区首席运营官兼总裁，公司旗下拥有Cinnabon、Auntie Anne’s、Jamba Juice等7家餐饮连锁品牌。她的职业生涯令人艳羡，也发人深省。19岁那年，在连锁餐厅Hooters做服务生的科尔迅速晋升，开设了自己的第一家国际特许经营店，之后又成功地领导了知名肉桂卷品牌Cinnabon的转型。虽然不断取得成功，但她经常试着忘记这些成绩，并设想如果是一位管理 “高手”担任她现在的职位，会怎样行事。
科尔还提到了Focus最近收购的老牌鲜榨果汁零售商Jamba Juice，它是Focus旗下首个“纯健康”品牌。对其将会给人们带来怎样的期待，科尔介绍了她的一些计划，包括大举投资某些技术一流的应用程序，将饮品变得更加健康。这意味着，Jamba Juice未来将更倾向绿色，少糖的产品。科尔还承诺，在饮品中增加植物蛋白，以及不含乳制品的乳类替代品。她说，对客户而言，“我们完全奉行健康之道。不会开倒车。”
Kat Cole, the COO and president of North America for Focus Brands, private equity parent of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Jamba Juice and four other food chains, has charted an enviable and inspiring career course—quickly rising through the ranks at Hooters to open her first international franchise at 19 and later leading a skillful turnaround of Cinnabon. But she often tries to forget all that success and think about what a “hot shot” executive would do in her place.
Cole, speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on December 25, 2018, explained how the self-developed technique—she calls it the “hot shot rule”—has kept her moving forward in her career. Climbing the ladder at Hooters, Cole didn’t have a lot of mentors, but she “learned to be my own best self coach.”
That meant teaching herself not to get blinded by her progress. At least monthly (now she does it more frequently, she explained), she imagines what a hot shot executive—“a Mrs. Potato Head of badass-ery,” as she described it—might do if she took over Cole’s business that day. Cole said the strategy has taught her vulnerability, reflection and a bias for action that helps her maintain a sense of urgency. Recently, she noted, the “hot shot rule” helped her realize she needed to make some leadership changes on her team. “I realized I had started to accept a level of performance because it was better than what was worse before. My new worst performers were mediocre, but they were nonetheless the worst. I needed to upgrade.” She added that she would be failing the underperforming employees if she didn’t address the issue.
Cole more broadly credited her business success to her “hustle muscle,” the grit and attributes she developed as a child growing up in less than ideal circumstances. Her father was an alcoholic and from the age of 9, she was raised by a single mother who worked three jobs to care for Cole and her sister. Cole took on a number of responsibilities as the eldest child, and says that that growing up in that chaotic and challenging environment, as well as having her mother, who nonetheless carried herself with grace and calm had given her “an unfair advantage” in the business world.
Cole also offered a preview of what customers can expect from Jamba Juice, the first “purely healthy” brand that Focus recently added to its portfolio. Cole’s plans for the juice brand include investing heavily in tech—best-in-class apps—and evolving the menu to “an even healthier place.” That means Jamba Juice’s future offerings will be more green and less sweet. Cole promised more plant-based proteins and dairy-free alternatives on the menu as well. “We’re all on a healthfulness journey,” she said; for customers, “it doesn’t go backwards.”
Don’t expect the same changes at Cinnabon. When asked by one audience member if she could envision keto-friendly versions of the brand’s famously large and gooey cinnamon rolls, Cole remarked customers “don’t come to it for their nutritional value.” She noted that she’d tried to introduce low-fat and low-sugar rolls in the past and they didn’t sell. Tiny rolls, however, sold with the same indulgent ingredients were a hit.