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AskAMogulAnything:Hi,I'mKatCole.I'mGroupPresidentatFOCUSBrands,parentcompanytodeliciousbrandslikeAuntieAnne'sandCinnabon.Askmeanythingyou'dlike!

Kat Cole
Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
12mo ATL//NYC Question

**Your questions will be answered Thursday, September 29th at 2 pm ET. To ask a question, click here to create a Mogul profile, then post a question in the comment section below!**

Hi - I'm Kat Cole. 

I'm the group president of FOCUS Brands, the parent company of Cinnabon. I'm responsible for leading global, multi-channel businesses in licensing, manufacturing and ecommerce for all 6 brands that operate across 65 countries: Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s, Schlotzsky's, McAllister's, and Carvel.

Prior to taking on my current role,  I spent four years as president of Cinnabon Inc and was accountable for leading, evolving and building the team and multi-channel brand, which boasts 70 products in 70,000 points of distribution. 

My background in the restaurant business started when I was a teenager. I notably rose through the ranks at Hooters. I have literally done a little bit of everything when it comes to the restaurant business: hostessed, bartended, waited tables.

One of the favorite things I like to tell people is, "Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t you dare let it solely define you.” It's a mantra I like to use to encourage learning and help teams and businesses embrace their roots while driving innovation and growth.

Some more information about me: I appeared on Undercover Boss. And I'm a passionate supporter of entrepreneurs, community, and elevating self-sufficiency through education and access to opportunity around the world.

Now's your chance to ask me anything! Please write your questions in the comments section below and I'll answer the questions live on Thursday, September 29th at 2 pm ET. 

It's part of Mogul's new interactive Q &A sessions, Ask A Mogul Anything. 

Come on and ask me *anything* ... about leading a large corporation and international brand ... rising from waitress and hostess to company president... and my thoughts on what it takes for women to succeed in business (and beyond) in the 21st century.

54 comments

  • Kat Cole
    Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
    12mo ago

    Hi All! So excited to be here! Love the questions here already - - so getting right to it!

    Hi All! So excited to be here! Love the questions here already - - so getting right to it!

  • Kat Cole
    Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
    12mo ago

    It's been amazing talking with all of you - hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @katcoleatl or on LinkedIn Rock on!!

    It's been amazing talking with all of you - hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @katcoleatl or on LinkedIn Rock on!!

  • KT Friend 50
    12mo ago

    One of the things I've found most inspiring about you is how open and transparent you are - including about your recent wedding (congrats!!). What advice do you have for people who want to be that authentic but fear being judged - either socially or in the business world?

    One of the things I've found most inspiring about you is how open and transparent you are - including about your recent wedding (congrats!!). What advice do you have for people who want to be that authentic but fear being judged - either socially or in the business world?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Thanks! Don't fear being judged - but do be prepared to be judged. I'm as open as I am because I have already considered that I will be judged - for my tattoos, my occasional sailor-mouth, my progressive personal views, my hippie lifestyle, my activism...you name it. But I do it anyway. For every 1 who judges, there are 10, 20, 50, 100 that are supportive or inspired or at least that feel connected. I'd say that's worth it.

      Thanks! Don't fear being judged - but do be prepared to be judged. I'm as open as I am because I have already considered that I will be judged - for my tattoos, my occasional sailor-mouth, my progressive personal views, my hippie lifestyle, my activism...you name it. But I do it anyway. For every 1 who judges, there are 10, 20, 50, 100 that are supportive or inspired or at least that feel connected. I'd say that's worth it.

  • Default
    Guest
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat, I was recently terminated with no reason given, just a few months after I submitted a grievance to my nonprofit board. I had finally spoken up about the board not raising funds, not hiring additional staff to alleviate my 80+ hour work weeks, not granting me an appropriate salary or title, not committing to board fundamentals such as creating budget, strategy, or bylaws, and many more unethical practices. While I am (honestly) relieved to be let go and freed from a toxic situation, I'm still losing sleep over the fact that they will drive this org into the ground and do a huge disservice to our almost 3,000 veterans. I'm the underdog here and I don't know if I have the resources or grit to stand back up to them. Do you have any suggestions as to how to hold them accountable, rescue our veterans from them, or overthrow them? Or would you suggest I keep walking and never look back? Thanks so much for your time...Sarah

    Hi Kat, I was recently terminated with no reason given, just a few months after I submitted a grievance to my nonprofit board. I had finally spoken up about the board not raising funds, not hiring additional staff to alleviate my 80+ hour work weeks, not granting me an appropriate salary or title, not committing to board fundamentals such as creating budget, strategy, or bylaws, and many more unethical practices. While I am (honestly) relieved to be let go and freed from a toxic situation, I'm still losing sleep over the fact that they will drive this org into the ground and do a huge disservice to our almost 3,000 veterans. I'm the underdog here and I don't know if I have the resources or grit to stand back up to them. Do you have any suggestions as to how to hold them accountable, rescue our veterans from them, or overthrow them? Or would you suggest I keep walking and never look back? Thanks so much for your time...Sarah

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Without knowing all sides, is not appropriate to answer as you have asked (I could end up giving bad advice without their perspective. However - I've found that energy is best spent creating, not destroying -- so if you are passionate about the cause/mission, find another group that does it well (or start your own) and contribute to them. as got the employment issue and reaching out post employment - I have learned there are many sides to an experience, so I can't opine on that without full deets.

      Without knowing all sides, is not appropriate to answer as you have asked (I could end up giving bad advice without their perspective. However - I've found that energy is best spent creating, not destroying -- so if you are passionate about the cause/mission, find another group that does it well (or start your own) and contribute to them. as got the employment issue and reaching out post employment - I have learned there are many sides to an experience, so I can't opine on that without full deets.

  • MaryPflumPeterson

    Hi Kat - So great to have you join us on Ask A Mogul Anything. At what point did you realize that you could lead a company? Also - how did your previous jobs in the restaurant industry (hostessing, etc) help you and continue to help you in your job as FOCUS Brands group president?

    Hi Kat - So great to have you join us on Ask A Mogul Anything. At what point did you realize that you could lead a company? Also - how did your previous jobs in the restaurant industry (hostessing, etc) help you and continue to help you in your job as FOCUS Brands group president?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I knew I could serve people - which translated well to leading people. Then as I served and led in more and more complex situations, it became clear that being able to lead complex teams and situations could translate into running a company. Previous jobs helped me understand how we are all more alike than we are different, developed respect for all roles in a company, and generally prepared me to manage P&Ls and various functionalities.

      I knew I could serve people - which translated well to leading people. Then as I served and led in more and more complex situations, it became clear that being able to lead complex teams and situations could translate into running a company. Previous jobs helped me understand how we are all more alike than we are different, developed respect for all roles in a company, and generally prepared me to manage P&Ls and various functionalities.

  • miranda444
    12mo ago

    What's your advice to women who want to eventually lead companies? Are there any tips - or advice you received - that helped you along the way?

    What's your advice to women who want to eventually lead companies? Are there any tips - or advice you received - that helped you along the way?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Build teams and advocates by doing amazing work and being there for people when it counts. You will end up with more opportunities and people who will help you along the way. ....and stay close to the transaction and front lines - never lose that connection - it is the engine of any company.

      Build teams and advocates by doing amazing work and being there for people when it counts. You will end up with more opportunities and people who will help you along the way. ....and stay close to the transaction and front lines - never lose that connection - it is the engine of any company.

  • miranda444
    12mo ago

    Who were your personal heroes growing up? Who are your personal heroes now?

    Who were your personal heroes growing up? Who are your personal heroes now?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      My mom and anyone I saw doing hard work - waitresses, cooks, janitors, people working behind the scenes - they are the real heroes!!

      My mom and anyone I saw doing hard work - waitresses, cooks, janitors, people working behind the scenes - they are the real heroes!!

  • booklover423
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat - Wondering what's your favorite part about your job? And what's the hardest part about your job?

    Hi Kat - Wondering what's your favorite part about your job? And what's the hardest part about your job?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Favorite part is the people - day to day interaction with so many different humans is amazing. Hardest part is balancing short and long term goals.

      Favorite part is the people - day to day interaction with so many different humans is amazing. Hardest part is balancing short and long term goals.

  • Sally22
    12mo ago

    What was it like being on Undercover Boss? What did you learn from the experience?

    What was it like being on Undercover Boss? What did you learn from the experience?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      It was exhausting and emotional and amazing. I was reminded of how young our employees are and how impactful the franchisee is to their experience.

      It was exhausting and emotional and amazing. I was reminded of how young our employees are and how impactful the franchisee is to their experience.

  • glasshalffull100
    12mo ago

    Did you have mentors? What did they teach you? What's the best advice that you've gotten?

    Did you have mentors? What did they teach you? What's the best advice that you've gotten?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I had many what I call "mentoring moments" and some of those turned into repeated mentoring moments that then turned into a few mentors. The learnings are a long list, but at a macro level, I learned that mentoring moments are available at anytime - ask someone, "have you dealt with "x"? if so, what did you learn?" ...let that color your thinking and tada - - you have a mentoring moment

      I had many what I call "mentoring moments" and some of those turned into repeated mentoring moments that then turned into a few mentors. The learnings are a long list, but at a macro level, I learned that mentoring moments are available at anytime - ask someone, "have you dealt with "x"? if so, what did you learn?" ...let that color your thinking and tada - - you have a mentoring moment

  • Bethany Heinrich
    Bethany Heinrich Mogul Influencer
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat! With only 5% of women that are CEOs in the US, what do you believe we should be doing as a society to increase this number? What do you believe it will take to bring gender parity in the workplace?

    Hi Kat! With only 5% of women that are CEOs in the US, what do you believe we should be doing as a society to increase this number? What do you believe it will take to bring gender parity in the workplace?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      oooooooo - - big question - probably a longer answer than this field will allow (and leaving enough time to get to other questions) - - so here's a suuuuuper abbreviated version - - has to be a bookend approach: more diversity at board level and willingness to bring on diversity and more inspiration and development to keep the pipeline full

      oooooooo - - big question - probably a longer answer than this field will allow (and leaving enough time to get to other questions) - - so here's a suuuuuper abbreviated version - - has to be a bookend approach: more diversity at board level and willingness to bring on diversity and more inspiration and development to keep the pipeline full

  • Jill
    12mo ago

    I love Cinnabon. WIth the world becoming more health conscious, how it Cinnabon working to improve the health of the product? Or does it matter since it's seen as a dessert or treat where people know what they are getting with calories?

    I love Cinnabon. WIth the world becoming more health conscious, how it Cinnabon working to improve the health of the product? Or does it matter since it's seen as a dessert or treat where people know what they are getting with calories?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Cinnabon is NOT working on improving "health" - it could not credibly make that claim. What it can do and is doing is use high quality ingredients, launch smaller portions and be sure the indulgence is "so worth it" if I am investing my discretionary "be bad" calories and my discretionary income - it had better be worth it!

      Cinnabon is NOT working on improving "health" - it could not credibly make that claim. What it can do and is doing is use high quality ingredients, launch smaller portions and be sure the indulgence is "so worth it" if I am investing my discretionary "be bad" calories and my discretionary income - it had better be worth it!

  • Lauren Sayre 63
    12mo ago

    Thank you for this opportunity! As someone who is currently trying to find my career calling (and at times feels completely lost in the process), has had a job in almost all aspects of the restaurant business as well and probably too much experience in customer service, I find your story very inspiring. In almost every job I've had, I've dealt with sexual harassment of some sort and have even had issues with female employees being resistant to having a female boss (me). What was your experience rising through the ranks as a woman? Do you believe it would have been easier as a man? Do you have any advice on how to 'sell yourself'? Personally I feel that one of my downfalls is my inability to properly convey my strengths in interviews. I try to come off as genuine and honest, but it seems to come off as a weakness. What has worked for you in interviews (as both the interviewee or interviewer)? And finally, when did you realize you had aspirations to be in a high ranking corporate position? Do you love it?

    Thank you for this opportunity! As someone who is currently trying to find my career calling (and at times feels completely lost in the process), has had a job in almost all aspects of the restaurant business as well and probably too much experience in customer service, I find your story very inspiring. In almost every job I've had, I've dealt with sexual harassment of some sort and have even had issues with female employees being resistant to having a female boss (me). What was your experience rising through the ranks as a woman? Do you believe it would have been easier as a man? Do you have any advice on how to 'sell yourself'? Personally I feel that one of my downfalls is my inability to properly convey my strengths in interviews. I try to come off as genuine and honest, but it seems to come off as a weakness. What has worked for you in interviews (as both the interviewee or interviewer)? And finally, when did you realize you had aspirations to be in a high ranking corporate position? Do you love it?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      feel free to tweet me separately @katcoleatl for more detail - - and read some of the interviews I've done for more (these are great questions - but a lot for one reply here) - but I'll say sure - it would have been easier in the early days being a dude - but I don't know that I would have developed the amazing skills I have that have allowed me to accelerate far beyond my peers if I had experienced an "easier" road. I also feel I have had advantages in being a woman - leveraging my natural femininity, intuition and communication skills have been an asset. In interviews - know your facts about the company, be curious, connect your experiences (not adjectives) to how that has prepared you for next challenges. Show you are a problem solver.

      feel free to tweet me separately @katcoleatl for more detail - - and read some of the interviews I've done for more (these are great questions - but a lot for one reply here) - but I'll say sure - it would have been easier in the early days being a dude - but I don't know that I would have developed the amazing skills I have that have allowed me to accelerate far beyond my peers if I had experienced an "easier" road. I also feel I have had advantages in being a woman - leveraging my natural femininity, intuition and communication skills have been an asset. In interviews - know your facts about the company, be curious, connect your experiences (not adjectives) to how that has prepared you for next challenges. Show you are a problem solver.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      - - and I never had aspirations to be high-ranking in the corp. world - -ever. I just wanted to keep learning and do things that make an impact -that let me to corporate executive-hood, yes, but it also led me to humanitarian work, entrepreneurship and working on being an amazing human as much as possible.

      - - and I never had aspirations to be high-ranking in the corp. world - -ever. I just wanted to keep learning and do things that make an impact -that let me to corporate executive-hood, yes, but it also led me to humanitarian work, entrepreneurship and working on being an amazing human as much as possible.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      feel free to tweet me separately @katcoleatl for more detail - - and read some of the interviews I've done for more (these are great questions - but a lot for one reply here) - but I'll say sure - it would have been easier in the early days being a dude - but I don't know that I would have developed the amazing skills I have that have allowed me to accelerate far beyond my peers if I had experienced an "easier" road. I also feel I have had advantages in being a woman - leveraging my natural femininity, intuition and communication skills have been an asset. In interviews - know your facts about the company, be curious, connect your experiences (not adjectives) to how that has prepared you for next challenges. Show you are a problem solver.

      feel free to tweet me separately @katcoleatl for more detail - - and read some of the interviews I've done for more (these are great questions - but a lot for one reply here) - but I'll say sure - it would have been easier in the early days being a dude - but I don't know that I would have developed the amazing skills I have that have allowed me to accelerate far beyond my peers if I had experienced an "easier" road. I also feel I have had advantages in being a woman - leveraging my natural femininity, intuition and communication skills have been an asset. In interviews - know your facts about the company, be curious, connect your experiences (not adjectives) to how that has prepared you for next challenges. Show you are a problem solver.

  • Kelly Hudson
    12mo ago

    Hi! What's your advice on work-life balance? How do we as women have it all and take care of ourselves, both when we have a family, and when at the point of searching for the right match to start a family with?

    Hi! What's your advice on work-life balance? How do we as women have it all and take care of ourselves, both when we have a family, and when at the point of searching for the right match to start a family with?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Balance is impossible - harmony is achievable - know your priorities - regularly reconcile how you spend your time to see if what you are doing matches up with what you want.

      Balance is impossible - harmony is achievable - know your priorities - regularly reconcile how you spend your time to see if what you are doing matches up with what you want.

  • namisha
    namisha Inquisitive, Avid Reader, Food Lover, Amateur Chef, Digital Sensei
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat, How do you feel being a female leader in a male dominated space and the lack of female leadership & role models like you in companies?

    Hi Kat, How do you feel being a female leader in a male dominated space and the lack of female leadership & role models like you in companies?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I feel that there is huge upside! No better time to be a woman in business and no more critical time to develop diverse talent and bring others along with you!

      I feel that there is huge upside! No better time to be a woman in business and no more critical time to develop diverse talent and bring others along with you!

  • tishita
    12mo ago

    What is your favorite person brand/product within focus brand portfolio and why?

    What is your favorite person brand/product within focus brand portfolio and why?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      How do you choose between your kids? How can I choose between these yummy brands? They are all so different. I love the Minibon from Cinnabon, the classic burrito from Moe's, Fudgie the Whale from Carvel, the pretzel nuggets from Auntie Anne's, the soups from Schlotzsky's, and the big giant Spudz from McAllister's :) - because they are delish

      How do you choose between your kids? How can I choose between these yummy brands? They are all so different. I love the Minibon from Cinnabon, the classic burrito from Moe's, Fudgie the Whale from Carvel, the pretzel nuggets from Auntie Anne's, the soups from Schlotzsky's, and the big giant Spudz from McAllister's :) - because they are delish

  • Tiffany Pham
    Tiffany Pham Founder & CEO, Mogul
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat, it's such an honor to have you here. What is the greatest challenge you face day-to-day? How is this different than the greatest challenge you faced when you first became President of FOCUS Brands?

    Hi Kat, it's such an honor to have you here. What is the greatest challenge you face day-to-day? How is this different than the greatest challenge you faced when you first became President of FOCUS Brands?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Greatest challenge is managing short and long term goals. The challenge is the same as any leadership role I've had - sometimes short and long-term goals align, and other times they conflict. Finding alignment and solving for conflicts is as much of an art as it is a science. Prioritizing, reconciling, keeping the noble mission in view and listening to the employee and customer as well as shareholder and investor and taking the temperature of the community are critical to solving the biggest challenges.

      Greatest challenge is managing short and long term goals. The challenge is the same as any leadership role I've had - sometimes short and long-term goals align, and other times they conflict. Finding alignment and solving for conflicts is as much of an art as it is a science. Prioritizing, reconciling, keeping the noble mission in view and listening to the employee and customer as well as shareholder and investor and taking the temperature of the community are critical to solving the biggest challenges.

      • bethany110
        12mo ago

        Hi Kat- that would make an amazing book. Looking forward to seeing you write your business lessons for publication one day!

        Hi Kat- that would make an amazing book. Looking forward to seeing you write your business lessons for publication one day!

  • Kathy May
    Kathy May Associate at Deustche Bank
    12mo ago

    What was the greatest lesson you learned in terms of heartbreak?

    What was the greatest lesson you learned in terms of heartbreak?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      That things are never as bad as they seem - as my husband (who rowed across the Atlantic ocean in a tiny rowboat) says - "this too shall pass"

      That things are never as bad as they seem - as my husband (who rowed across the Atlantic ocean in a tiny rowboat) says - "this too shall pass"

  • Bethany Heinrich
    Bethany Heinrich Mogul Influencer
    12mo ago

    What is your biggest piece of relationship advice for women who are very career-oriented but looking to have a family as well?

    What is your biggest piece of relationship advice for women who are very career-oriented but looking to have a family as well?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Don't be too hard on yourself - set your goals and priorities and regularly ask yourself if you are proud of the way you are spending your time relative to those priorities. If not, change. If so, keep it up. And again - you only have so much time, and you are only one person - so don't beat yourself up - life does a good enough job of that on its own.

      Don't be too hard on yourself - set your goals and priorities and regularly ask yourself if you are proud of the way you are spending your time relative to those priorities. If not, change. If so, keep it up. And again - you only have so much time, and you are only one person - so don't beat yourself up - life does a good enough job of that on its own.

  • Rachel Borowicz
    Rachel Borowicz Software Engineer & Arts Philanthropist
    12mo ago

    How did you meet your husband, and what have been your best tips for successfully integrating your relationship into your work and life? You are my absolute role model. Thank you so much for everything that you do.

    How did you meet your husband, and what have been your best tips for successfully integrating your relationship into your work and life? You are my absolute role model. Thank you so much for everything that you do.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I met him through a social impact group - we were both invited by friends. I say amazing communication is key in integrating your personal and professional life. And for me - - I put my relationship first, and we both know that. Sometimes we agree that the other needs to invest more time in work, because long term, that will be good for us, but other times we remember life is short - and we don't want to regret not spending quality time together.

      I met him through a social impact group - we were both invited by friends. I say amazing communication is key in integrating your personal and professional life. And for me - - I put my relationship first, and we both know that. Sometimes we agree that the other needs to invest more time in work, because long term, that will be good for us, but other times we remember life is short - and we don't want to regret not spending quality time together.

  • ripcarson
    12mo ago

    Hey, Kat! So, a question about social media. How should brands engage in the issues that face the world. Cinnabon, I know, took advantage when Breaking Bad was trending. Most brands are still feeling this space out, however. How have you been able to use social media to build your brand? When is it worth taking risks to speak out as a brand on issues outside the promotional mandate?

    Hey, Kat! So, a question about social media. How should brands engage in the issues that face the world. Cinnabon, I know, took advantage when Breaking Bad was trending. Most brands are still feeling this space out, however. How have you been able to use social media to build your brand? When is it worth taking risks to speak out as a brand on issues outside the promotional mandate?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      Brands should engage in ways that are authentic to that brand, what they stand for and their culture. Breaking Bad talked about Cinnabon in a show (without us knowing) - we were fans, so we just tweeted them some funny things - then we developed a relationship, then we ended up in Better Call Saul - it was an organic relationship that grew from mutual fan-dom and not taking ourselves too seriously. I apply the same rule to any brand -our brand, my brand, etc. - authenticity, organic connection - just like what works off line. Brands speaking out on issues that are not related to the business also has to do with the brand's culture - what's important to them - who does their position impact - and do they know how to use it as a force for good not evil.

      Brands should engage in ways that are authentic to that brand, what they stand for and their culture. Breaking Bad talked about Cinnabon in a show (without us knowing) - we were fans, so we just tweeted them some funny things - then we developed a relationship, then we ended up in Better Call Saul - it was an organic relationship that grew from mutual fan-dom and not taking ourselves too seriously. I apply the same rule to any brand -our brand, my brand, etc. - authenticity, organic connection - just like what works off line. Brands speaking out on issues that are not related to the business also has to do with the brand's culture - what's important to them - who does their position impact - and do they know how to use it as a force for good not evil.

  • Mark Kido 74
    12mo ago

    Hi Kat. 1. What advice would you give your younger self? 2. Your views on gender parity and its attainment in this lifetime.

    Hi Kat. 1. What advice would you give your younger self? 2. Your views on gender parity and its attainment in this lifetime.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I would tell my younger self to not be as worried what other people think - follow your gut - even more than I did. My views on gender parity (I assume you mean in leadership roles) are that we are making great progress....not enough...but that I believe I will see at least a doubling or even tripling of current percentages in my lifetime in leadership roles.

      I would tell my younger self to not be as worried what other people think - follow your gut - even more than I did. My views on gender parity (I assume you mean in leadership roles) are that we are making great progress....not enough...but that I believe I will see at least a doubling or even tripling of current percentages in my lifetime in leadership roles.

  • TiffanyPham
    [deleted]
    12mo ago

    [deleted]

    [deleted]

  • Gina Orley
    12mo ago

    I admire you so much, Kat. How did you first grow your presence and your confidence when you were starting out? This is where I especially struggle. Thank you so much for being such an example for me.

    I admire you so much, Kat. How did you first grow your presence and your confidence when you were starting out? This is where I especially struggle. Thank you so much for being such an example for me.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      I just kept putting myself in new situations. When you are new, you are not always good or popular or comfortable - so it builds a great muscle around inner confidence, so when things are even kinda good - your external confidence really shows. I also stayed close to people with much tougher situations than me - keeps things in perspective - and you move through life with more grace and gratitude.

      I just kept putting myself in new situations. When you are new, you are not always good or popular or comfortable - so it builds a great muscle around inner confidence, so when things are even kinda good - your external confidence really shows. I also stayed close to people with much tougher situations than me - keeps things in perspective - and you move through life with more grace and gratitude.

  • Emily Lyle
    12mo ago

    Have you ever dealt with a male as a direct boss? What's the balance of managing upwards without overstepping bound? How do you find your voice without coming off as aggressive?

    Have you ever dealt with a male as a direct boss? What's the balance of managing upwards without overstepping bound? How do you find your voice without coming off as aggressive?

    • Emily Lyle
      12mo ago

      Thank you so much for answering Kat. You are one of my real-life heroes.

      Thank you so much for answering Kat. You are one of my real-life heroes.

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      of course :) in the early years most of my bosses were women (which surprises most people) - but as I became an executive, all my CEOs have been male. Managing upward has nothing to do with gender. If you have humility and curiosity balanced with courage and confidence, you'll always have the optimal relationships possible at any level. Use your authentic voice, but know thyself and know thy audience - - video yourself, record yourself - know how you come across and understand how that can be perceived and use that to tone up or down when appropriate. But don't be someone you're not - its exhausting and people see right through it

      of course :) in the early years most of my bosses were women (which surprises most people) - but as I became an executive, all my CEOs have been male. Managing upward has nothing to do with gender. If you have humility and curiosity balanced with courage and confidence, you'll always have the optimal relationships possible at any level. Use your authentic voice, but know thyself and know thy audience - - video yourself, record yourself - know how you come across and understand how that can be perceived and use that to tone up or down when appropriate. But don't be someone you're not - its exhausting and people see right through it

  • AdrianaGerry
    12mo ago

    How do you educate people around you in your personal and professional life when it comes to gender bias?

    How do you educate people around you in your personal and professional life when it comes to gender bias?

    • Kat Cole
      Kat Cole Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands
      12mo ago

      1 - share stories - nothing is more powerful. 2 - call out behavior immediately! - sometimes they don't know (what you permit you promote) 3. - don't be a part of the problem - be aware of your own behaviors (yes even women!)

      1 - share stories - nothing is more powerful. 2 - call out behavior immediately! - sometimes they don't know (what you permit you promote) 3. - don't be a part of the problem - be aware of your own behaviors (yes even women!)


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Kat Cole
Humanitarian, Business Leader, Investor, Advisor & Group President, FOCUS Brands

Former president of Cinnabon Inc., now Group President of Cinnabon's parent company, FOCUS Brands, where she leads global, multi-channel businesses in licensing, manufacturing and ecommerce for all 6 brands that operate across 65 countries: Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s, Schlotzsky's, [...]

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