Archive for November, 2012

We recently got Cinnabon – not once but TWICE over the Thanksgiving holiday.  My family LOVES Cinnabon.  It’s too sweet for me, it’s so appealing to the eye, but one bite is more than enough for me.  So I tweeted (@suburbanclair) that Cinnabon just isn’t for me (or something along those lines…)

Then that night Cinnabon started following me, which tickled me because it’s not like I tweeted WHHOOOO HOOO LOVES ME SOME CINNABON!!  And I didn’t think about it again.  Then today – wait, and please, stay with me…I normally use Google Chrome but for some reason it’s been running slow so I’ve gone back to using Explorer because it doesn’t drag so bad.  The downside of that is when it opens a window it opens Yahoo.  I always get sucked into the story on the front page.  And it usually is a total waste of time.  But today the article caught my attention particularly because it was about, of course… CINNABON!!

Or more specifically the president Kat Cole.  Now I know some Yahoo stories can be all fluff and who knows how valid they are, but I read this article and enjoyed it.  Reading it reminded me of what I’ve already had on my mind – that I need to do better on the business aspect of my business.  or actually, BUSINESSES.  I know ya’ll all know me from this blog and the TRAVELING PSYCHIC SUPPER CLUB and everything having to do with that, but I also spent a couple of years writing a curriculum for kids (specifically girls) to teach them to trust their instincts under my company I PROJECT CONFIDENCE.

I’ve got the program working in a couple of schools, and through some community centers a little bit.  But not NEARLY as well as it should be.  What I want it to be and where it is are so far apart that sometimes it depresses me.  And the reason for this is probably because I’m not a very good business woman.  When I look at it from the perspective of an outsider I think, wait!  This person wrote this whole thing, and isn’t pushing it day and night?? What’s up with that??  but in reality, IPC is just me.  Kind of like with the supper club…

 I’m the marketer, the press release writer, the contact, the accountant, the website designer and updater…all the way back to blog writer.  For both businesses.  *SIGH*  It gets kind of overwhelming at times.  Which is probably one of the reasons I’ve been sick for the past two weeks, my body saying, “HEY!! Take a break, will ya??”  But you are probably saying what does that have to do with CINNABON??

Well, I was inspired by Kat Cole’s story.  I know doors open and blocks are moved and things happen as they are supposed to.  I agree so much that helping others (out of love, not the desire to “get ahead”) helps us.  I’ve learned that from doing the work I do with CASA – which has also been on my mind today.  So, at this moment in time, I stopped to read about someone inspirational.  I even went to follow her on twitter – and she sent me a little shout back.  That made me feel happy.  That someone so busy – uh, running a massive company- takes the time to say hi.  Just another nice little connection.

SO here is the article in full – I know people don’t normally click links – so if you have the time, read it.  And then take a minute to help someone.  Who knows where it may take you?  maybe it will take you to Cinnabon…

From Hooters To High Places: How Kat Cole Turned Cinnabon Into A $1 Billion Brand

ForbesForbes – 22 hours ago

Kat Cole, 34, got an unlikely start in the food industry. While in high school in Jacksonville, Fla., she worked part-time as a Hooters girl, serving beer and chicken wings in those tiny orange shorts. At age 19, she got a once-in-lifetime opportunity to help the restaurant chain expand internationally. She hung up her plans to become an engineer and lawyer, opting instead to take the executive path in food retail. In the decade she spent at Hooters, Cole says it went from approximately 100 locations and $300 million in revenue to 500 locations in 33 countries and $1 billion in revenue.
Now Cole hopes to work her magic again. This time as president of shopping-mall cinnamon roll brand Cinnabon, an Atlanta, Ga.-based unit of the FOCUS Brands portfolio, which also includes Carvel, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Moe’s Southwestern Grill. Beyond its 1000 franchise locations in 50 countries, Cinnabon has expanded into grocery-store products by partnering with packaged-food kings Pillsbury and Kellogg. It’s also ramping up its presence in other restaurant chains by teaming up with fast-food leaders Burger King and Taco Bell. Cole says it’s about to hit $1 billion in retail sales and will soon be considered one of the “world’s greatest food brands.”
She sat down with me to reveal what’s in store for the company, how she ended up here and why those little shorts were the best thing that happened to her.
Jenna Goudreau: Bring me up to speed on the Cinnabon business.
Kate Cole: It’s becoming one of the world’s greatest food brands. Eventually it will end up in the bucket with brands like Oreo and Hershey.
That’s a bold statement for a shopping-mall pastry.  It’s no longer just a bakery in malls. That’s still the heart, but it’s only the nucleus of a much bigger thing. Several years ago Cinnabon started getting into consumer packaged goods. We own a proprietary ingredient, Cinnabon cinnamon, which is chemically different at the cellular level, making it gooey and aromatic. Because we’ve built credibility in the cinnamon roll space and Pillsbury is the largest seller of refrigerated dough, we joined forces and put our cinnamon in their rolls and our name on the package.
We continued to expand into waffles and pancakes, which led to a partnership with Kellogg’s cereal and other smaller branded partnerships. We now have 60 products—including syrups, sprinkles and Cinnabon International Delight creamer—in grocery and big-box stores like Costco, Wal-Mart, Target and Publix. People go to the grocery much more often than the mall or airport, so it’s a good way to be a regular part of their lives.
You’re also venturing into product licensing. How does that work?
Making products for other restaurant chains is the final frontier and the reason we’re about to hit $1 billion in retail sales, a major milestone for the brand. Licensing is the love-child of franchising and consumer packaged goods because we are now developing products for immediate consumption at other restaurant chains. We’ve got a doughnut product that we developed for Taco Bell called Cinnabon Delights, and we just launched Cinnabon Minibons in over 7,000 Burger King locations. The chains want something that will resonate with consumers, so they’ll pay a premium. The cinnamon, dough and frosting are all proprietary, so with these ingredients we can go anywhere.
How do you mitigate the risks of expanding so rapidly?
Many leaders go wrong by turning their backs on their core and chasing the next thing. My licensing deals would have limited life if the franchises went away, so it’s critical to reinvest in the core. We have about 25% of our domestic franchises remodeled. They’ve got a sexier, sleek look that doesn’t look like Grandma’s bakery. By the end of next year, 50% will be reimaged.
This is not a healthy food. The classic roll has 800 calories. How do you balance business and community responsibility?
There is a place in the market for indulgent brands. Even though there’s a big focus on health, Pres. Obama still has a greasy hamburger every once in a while. We’re not telling people to eat a classic roll every day. Everybody gives themselves discretionary calories. If you’re going to give yourself a treat, give yourself something that is so worth it. It has more pleasure per calorie than anything else that’s out there. You’ve been running major food brands since you were in your early 20s. Do other leaders raise an eyebrow at your age?
If they do, they’re doing it on the inside. Youth is in my favor. Anytime you’ve got someone young, they’re curious. I’m humble enough to know there’s a whole lot of [stuff] I don’t know. I ask for a lot of help and people are generous when you ask.
Your career path began in an unusual place: A Hooters restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla.
I had a single parent—a mother who worked three jobs and fed us on $10 a week—so I started working as early as the law would permit. I sold clothes at The Avenues mall after school before I was recruited to be a Hooters hostess. By 18, I was a Hooters girl and loved it. When the cook quit, I learned how to run the kitchen, and when the manager quit, I learned how to run a shift.
I went to college at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, planning to get an engineering degree and then go to law school. When I was 19, I got the opportunity to go open the first Hooters restaurant in Australia. I’d never been on a plane. I didn’t even have a passport. I realized that in Miami you could get a passport in one day, so I flew to Miami, got a passport and flew to Australia the next day.
I was in Sydney for 40 days, came back and within 10 days was asked to open the first restaurant in Central America. Then ones in South America, Asia, Africa and Canada. By the time I was 20, I’d opened up the first Hooters on most continents outside the US and was failing school. So I quit to become the head of Hooters corporate training. I’m a college dropout.
I read that you have an MBA. How did you swing that?
It’s very rare. I moved up quickly at Hooters, becoming vice president of the company, and was urged by mentors to go back to school. I was 29 and thinking: Gosh, I’m already a VP of a $1 billion company. Do I really need to go back and finish my Bachelor’s? I took the GMAT, went through double the interviews at the university and got letters from every CEO I knew, including a recommendation from Ted Turner. I was accepted to Georgia State’s MBA program and did nights and weekends from 2008 to 2010. I graduated two months after I started at Cinnabon.
What attracted you to Cinnabon?
I met the current CEO, Russ Umphenour, and developed a major business crush on him. It felt right. It’s a multi-brand portfolio, and I knew I’d get to learn from the other brands. I was interviewing there, still in school, running the Georgia Restaurant Association and handling a huge, complicated Hooters transaction. The CEO had died, and I was asked to lead the company’s liquidation, dealing with analysts, brokers, investors and the internal team. The whole time I was thinking: Thank God I went to class yesterday or I wouldn’t have known what that meant! I started at Cinnabon after Hooters signed the purchase agreement.
Do you have some supernatural ability of multitasking?
I don’t have kids. The work is incredibly fulfilling and I’ve had fun, so it’s easy to do it. Layering in the education was the most difficult.
What advice would you give other young women hoping to succeed in business?
Get diversity in where your experience comes from. Volunteer. Be a part of some industry organization. I started out as the nametag lady, handing out nametags at the Women’s Foodservice Forum events. They took me in when I was 24 and made critical introductions and gave me volunteer opportunities that allowed me to develop other areas of my career like finance and marketing that I wasn’t getting the technical opportunity to do in my company. It was a safe place to run committees and work on projects in different areas.

At one of their events, this woman was lost and I helped her find her way. It turns out she was the founder of Pink magazine, on a ton of tech startup boards and doing big things. I was just helping her find her way, and we ended up being friends. When you do the right things for the right reasons, it always pays you back.


So today I had my very first “Long Island Medium” Moment.  I’m taking steps every day to come out of the “Clair Closet” and today was a big one for me.  While sitting in a makeup artist’s chair and chatting I did it.  I had to.  I actually said the words… “I’M A MEDIUM…and you are doing the right thing.  Additionally, someone is very proud of you.  I don’t know who, but someone is very proud of you.”  Because I don’t usually communicate with the dead, I knew it was someone living.

I know, Theresa, I couldn’t believe it either.  I actually opened my mouth and the words came out.  And guess what?



The response I got was positive and accepting.  The receiver of the information was happy to hear it, and I was happy to share it.  I won’t go into the story, it’s not my place to, but I opened my big mouth and when the words came out the lovingness and acceptance I felt not only from my makeup artist (who I didn’t know before meeting her today – and what I shared wasn’t even about make up – a door was opened in our conversation that lead to my “reading”) but from just everywhere – was amazing and all-encompassing.  And the funny thing was, I wasn’t even planning to go to MAC today.  I went on the fly, after ditching my Course In Miracles study group.  But after meeting and talking to this wonderful young woman (and her friend who she also brought over to meet me) I knew that’s why I was there, that’s why I had ditched class, and dragged my friend along – who’s very first ACIM group it would have been – was to share and validate that everything was absolutely right and perfect.  And there’s nothing better than that.


So what I am saying to YOU is this – if you are receiving messages for people but not sharing, why not?  If you are not doing what you feel like you SHOULD be doing in your BONES, WHY NOT??  People are ready to hear your message, and waiting to receive your insight.  I know, it happened today.  My first ever…”I’m a medium” moment.  And it wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t scary, it was well received.  In short it was RIGHT.  and what can be better than that?


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