Business Advice I Learned from Kat Cole

 Photo Credit: Sam Kaplan

Photo Credit: Sam Kaplan

I am a big fan of Kat Cole. Leave aside that she is a female professional who is top of her game, leave aside her claim to fame as the Cinnabon legend or her many media clips and conference talks. I am a fan of Kat Cole at her core. Her principles as an individual, contributing to her corporate environment and to 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.

Conscious-capitalism perspective

I had the opportunity to hear Kat speak to a room full of eager listeners at the Hope Global Forum in Atlanta GA. She inspired me with her thoughts on conscious capitalism – something that she is very passionate about and actively pursues by pledging her time to organizations that support women and children, nutrition, and homelessness prevention. Kat explained that being a connected capitalist helps by serving as a bridge between communities, and this bridge is integral in order to bring about communication, progress and inclusion. By addressing the economic impact of business strategies on communities, a capitalist can start to build trust with the communities, which will lead to support and then drive customer adoption. As a result, society progresses through innovation.

Branding and social media 

It is imperative in today’s business scenario to be involved and engaged in social media. Kat hits the nail on the head in her CNBC Closing Bell segment where 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 in terms of 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, Kat 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, highly unlikely for somebody 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, be good at it. What’s not to learn from someone that can share her personal journey up the corporate world!

The 'hotshot rule': Kat's trick to nix complacency 

Which then brings me to her latest piece of advice. A recent article I read online talked about her ‘hotshot rule’ – where she discusses her strategy to address the complacency that sets in once progress has been achieved. Very simply put – what would some hotshot do in her place when it comes to her company’s state of affairs, what would be the 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 least 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 recognizecircumstances that require it? Going by Kat’s experiences we can actually do it consistently, as a continuous performance driving measure that aids in motivating us to do the right thing, not simply because we think so, but more because of the fact that we know someone else in our place would do just the same. I learn from many of Kat’s leadership lessons because they have the substance to convince me of a positive result. Kat Cole has taught me some of the best business advice ever!