I am a big fan of Kat Cole. Leave aside that she is a female professional who is top of her game, her claim to fame as the Cinnabon legend and her many media clips and conference talks. I am a fan of Kat Cole at her core, of her principles as an individual. Contributing to her corporate environment and the community at large is something that her position or profession doesn’t dictate. It is her essence, and that is what I try to imbibe the most from her. I seek out her speaking engagements whenever I can because her presence helps me believe that I can show up authentically in representing myself to the world.
Her Conscious Capitalism Perspective
I had the opportunity to hear Cole speak to a room full of eager listeners at the Hope Global Forum in Atlanta. She inspired me with her thoughts on conscious capitalism – something that she is passionate about and actively pursues by pledging her time to organizations that support women and children, nutrition and homelessness prevention. Cole explained that being a connected capitalist helps by serving as a bridge between communities, and this bridge is integral to bring about communication, progress and inclusion. By addressing the economic impact of business strategies on communities, a capitalist can start to build trust within the communities, which will lead to support and then drive customer adoption. As a result, society progresses through innovation. I also believe that a company can be profitable and have an impact on the world; that’s why I became a social entrepreneur.
Her Approach to Branding and Social Media
It is imperative in today’s business scenario to be involved and engaged in social media. Cole hits the nail on the head in her CNBC Closing Bell segment in which she talks about business today being the “intersection of product, community and commerce” – a fact that can no longer be ignored or neglected, or it will affect your business directly. Being present and active on social media is critical to brand building and community building for your business to succeed in an environment where there is so much competition and clutter regarding marketing and advertising. Social media is the best way to create community, love, testimonials and commerce. You cannot succeed if you don’t have a community for your business.
More Than Another Generic Story
For the uninitiated, Cole’s experiences have taken her from Hooters of America, Inc. to Cinnabon, Inc. and onto a larger role now at parent company FOCUS Brands, Inc. all within a very short span of time; all highly unlikely for someone from her background, age range, qualifications, the list goes on. Where she started at age 17 to where she is now has all been the result of her hard work. When you hear her speak, her experience comes across clearly. Her ethics are straightforward. Do what you need to do to get to the top, do your job well and be good at it. What’s not to learn from someone who can share her journey in the corporate world?
Cole’s Trick to Nix Complacency
Which brings me to her latest piece of advice: A recent article I read in bizjournals.com mentioned her ‘hotshot rule,’ where she discusses her strategy to address the complacency that sets in once progress has been achieved. What would some hotshot do in her place when it comes to her company’s state of affairs? What are 2-3 things that would be unacceptable to this person? What would they do to enhance the brand? Kat has carried out this exercise consistently over the last few years and has the results to back it up. She even shares her findings with her team. Talk about putting yourself outside the box to produce solutions!
We often hear about thinking outside the box. How often do we recognize circumstances that require it? Going by Cole’s experiences, we can do it consistently, as a continuous performance driving measure that aids in motivating us to do the right thing, not simply because we think we should but because we know someone else in our place would do just the same. I learn from many of Cole’s leadership lessons because they have the substance to convince me of positive results.
A version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn.