Kat Cole – The Power of Possible [The Knowledge Project Ep. #117]

Kat Cole discusses how the power of possible guided her from a part-time job as a hostess at a Hooters restaurant to one of the most respected business leaders in America. In this wide-ranging episode, Cole discusses the dark side of gratitude and how it can keep you in place, defaulting to trust, 3 questions to ask at work to uncover hidden opportunities, how to conduct a monthly relationship check-in with your partner, and so much more.

Cole spent roughly a decade in leadership roles with Focus Brands, the global multi-channel franchisor and operator of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Jamba Juice and others. She was named President and COO of Focus Brands in 2017 after she spent five years as the President of Cinnabon. She left the company in December 2020.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

I never thought I knew what I was doing, never. Not once did I think, yes, I’m going to do that because I know what I’m doing. What I thought was, I can figure it out.

It was almost like customer service judo, where I was using his energy in a way to play the game back to him, but in a giving way. And he never complained again and he gave me a really big tip.

Innovation always outpaces the corporation and regulation.

And I really do believe outside of losing life and losing love, there is nothing worse than losing trust.

…we also used it as a learning opportunity. And so I think it was this balance of why am I making this decision? Because we didn’t handle it correctly.

They clearly signed up for it. They bought it, it’s here. Do I just toe the line and say, “No, sorry, this is the menu, get over it.” Or do I listen and take that feedback and make a decision to change?

Anytime you are criticized, assume first it’s correct. Just allow yourself to digest that and then respond. And either you will reaffirm that the criticism is not correct, and you can focus more on the why and a productive relationship or your realize there’s at least some grain of truth, and you will work intensely to address that issue.

The first way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. Let’s give the people what they want. It is worth it to take the verbal beatings and have the debates and get people to change, even though they don’t want to by confronting reality.

Chaos is definitely my jam. We have to look out for ourselves, the whole put your oxygen mask on first is an important reminder.

And so much more. It’s time to listen and learn.


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