Kat Cole

FOCUS Brands Group President

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What Teambuilding Exercise Actually Works?

I find that bringing people together to create something or to give to others that are much worse off than us is one of the best team-building exercises. So going to local soup kitchens, volunteering…

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What's Your Power Outfit?

My uniform is jeans and a black blazer. I think if you looked at six years of interviews you would basically, it would look like I'm wearing the same thing forever, so it does make…

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How Do You Give a Great Presentation?

Focus on the audience. It's about them, not you. And if you're so worried about how you come across, even if it's fear or humility, you'll end up saying and doing things that trip you…

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What Is Your Must-Ask Job Interview Question?

Wow, my go-to job interview question, outside of basic technicalities, is to get at how a person is viewed, their style, the way they interact, and so, I ask someone to tell me about the…

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What Is Your Biggest Time-Saving Trick?

My biggest time saving trick is being thoughtful about what needs to happen in the day and the week. The times where I've been the biggest time waster are the times where I'm just trying…

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How Do You Make Meetings More Effective?

Making meetings go faster, few really easy ways. Set time that's short, set an agenda, have people standing up, and be very aware of the time. Bring up the time. Hey, guys, we have 15…

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How Do You Make a Positive First Impression on Your Team?

If you wanna make a positive first impression on your team as a new manager, make it clear that you're there for them. And that shows up in different ways each day. It could be…

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How Do You Deal With Legacy Employees?

Legacy employees, just like any employee, can be awesome or horrible, it depends on their mindset. I have taken over teams with legacy employees who literally were the first and second employees after decades. And…

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How Do You Celebrate Success?

We celebrate success a lot, but we actually highlight success by celebrating our small failures. Small failures are great learnings that we can’t demonstrate will pave the path to great success. We also celebrate success…

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What's the Biggest Mistake New Bosses Make?

The biggest mistake I see first time managers making is demonstrating their fear of being a first time manager by over indexing on the directive behavior instead of remembering that if you're going to manage…

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How Do You Fit Exercise Into Your Day?

I fit exercise into the day in whatever way that I can. So, if I'm blow-drying my hair, I'll do little leg lifts, or if I'm standing in line, I'll do calf raises. If I'm…

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What Are Your 3 Must-Dos Everyday?

Spend some time of time, hug, kiss, talk to my husband, that feeds my soul. Drink water and coffee, that's one, so that's two total. And three spend time asking questions. So could be asking…

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Tell Us About a Mistake You Made and What You Learned

One huge mistake that I've made, that I talk about a lot, is when I became president of Cinnabon. I was president, my first ever time in that top role, and there were existing initiatives…

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How Do You Talk to Someone About Sensitive Topics Like Personal Hygiene?

I deliver sensitive feedback by remembering, it's actually not that sensitive. So I focus on three things. One, empathy, if it were me, what would I want? Two, that it's my job to deliver feedback,…

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How Open Should You Be at Work About Your Personal Life?

Transparency around your personal life is such a personal choice for anyone at work. As a leader, I think it's important for me to talk about my personal life in a way that is approachable…

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Do You Conduct Your Performance Reviews in the Office or Off-Site?

For performance reviews, it's a mix for me. I do some on-site, some off-site. If the schedule's incredibly busy and in order for me to give the most amount of time I need to be…

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How Much of Your Career Has Been Planned and How Much Has It Been Left up to Chance?

I would say that very little of my career path has been planned or carefully orchestrated. I would say it's a combination of being incredibly hardworking and curious while being ready to take advantage of…

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How Do You Negotiate a Higher Salary?

A smart way to negotiate a higher starting salary is know your worth. And as I tell people that I mentor and advise, there is some balance between aspiration, "I want to make a million…

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Do You Have Any Tips for Managing Millennials?

Kat Cole: Well technically by some of the research, depending on which study you look at, I am a millennial. Betty Liu: So how do you manage yourself? Kat Cole: Yeah, how do I manage…

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How Do You Give Critical Feedback?

A long time ago I read a book called Fast Feedback by a guy named Bruce Tulgan. And the F stands for frequency, so tune in to someone's frequency. The A stands for accurate, make…

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How Do You Build a Strong Personal Brand?

You know, building a personal brand, the best brands are truly authentic and organic. So I think the first tip for building a great personal brand is "Do you." Do you super consistently. And there…

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How Do You Get Work Done While You Travel?

I get a lot of work done while I'm traveling, but it's really focusing on when I have time to sit, I mix it up. If I have time to sit on a plane, train,…

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How Do You Put Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes?

I will go be the customer. I'll go hang out with the customers. I'll buy the stuff myself. I'll talk to people who are buying the product and ask them all kinds of questions. What…

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Did a Personal Issue Ever Affect Your Work and How Did You Handle It?

When I was in my early 20s and was just starting to lead teams in a corporate environment, so, just think, I'm 20 21 years old, I'm having my first corporate job, and I developed…

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What Is a Unique Challenge Faced by Women Entrepreneurs?

A unique challenge faced by women entrepreneurs is, in general, women do a really shitty job of building informal networks. Informal networks are more those ones you build socially as opposed to going to just…

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Have You Ever Cried at Work?

I've definitely cried in the office. You know, I cried in the office in my mid twenties when I had a breakup and was a little emotional, so personal side. I've cried in the office…

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Should Leaders Show Their Vulnerability?

I think vulnerability is one of those characteristics that can come across as very soft, but for a leader, it's a demonstration of strength. It is a way to create a culture of approachability and…

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How Do You Find a Mentor?

Most people seeking a mentor should totally blow up the fucking concept of a mentor and reframe it as mentoring moments. Mentor feels like this big mountain you have to climb, both if you're a…

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How Do You Handle Receiving Criticism?

I love criticism. I learned from a mentor a mine in Argentina, many many years ago, one great tip. When you receive criticism, assume immediately for a moment that it's absolutely correct. It's really powerful…

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How Do You Manage a Culturally Diverse Team?

Managing a culturally diverse team can be incredibly challenging, because everyone comes from a different place. We have different family values, we have different perceptions of what work ethic looks like, of what's acceptable in…

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What Keeps You up at Night?

What keeps me up at night is a mix of the fact that we are a business that sells products to individuals and the amount of responsibility that comes with that, with us, our employees,…

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What Rituals Do You Perform Before a Stressful Task?

I think the rituals I have that help me conquer really tough tasks are thinking about those who accomplish so much more than me with so much less than me. So, perspective. You know, just…

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How Do You Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

There are these little blinks these little moments of imposter syndrome, and I've learned to snap myself out of it. But, I've definitely had these moments where I pause and say who am I to…

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How Do You Keep Your Superstar Employees Happy?

Keeping superstar employees is a little bit of art and a little bit of science. The science side is, make sure that their work delivers value, and they are valued for their work. The art…

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How Has a Diverse Workforce Benefited Your Company?

Recruiting a diverse workforce has elevated the company. One, diverse teams are proven to create more profitable companies and so that has played out in the teams that I've helped build year after year. But…

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How Do You Manage People Remotely?

Managing teams remotely, for us at Focus Brands, is practiced in different ways. We use technology, of course, whether it's Slack or text or What'sApp, or whatever is out there that allows us to be…

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What Was the Worst Advice Someone Gave You?

I remember being in a pretty tense business situation, and I was very concerned about communication to our employees. And another executive said, quote, "Don't worry about them; we need to get this done." And…

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What Is the Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

Best advice someone has ever given me...I would say the best advice I've ever gotten is my mom. Every year, she writes a note on my birthday cards that says something to the effect of,…

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"Rose from a hostess at Hooters to president of a multi-national, multi-brand food company"

For the past four years, Kat Cole has been president of Cinnabon, Inc., where she was accountable for leading, evolving and building the team and multi-channel brand. In 2015, Kat was promoted to take on the role of Group President at FOCUS Brands Inc. (parent company to Cinnabon, Inc.), leading the innovative, high-growth division building all brands at FOCUS in the US and internationally in consumer packaged goods, foodservice licensing, global licensed platforms and E-commerce.

Prior to her role with Cinnabon and FOCUS Brands, Inc., Kat was Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters of America, Inc., which operates and franchises restaurants and manages the Hooters® brand entities. Kat joined Hooters’s corporate office at 20, advanced to various management and leadership positions, becoming a Vice President at Hooters at the age of 26, making her one of the youngest executives in chain restaurants. She was a member of the Hooters Executive team that built the franchise to 400 units in 28 countries, eventually being sold to private equity in late 2010. She completed her MBA at Georgia State University in her final two years as an executive at Hooters and while Chair of the Board of the Georgia Restaurant Association and Board member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum.

Kat's personal story, business approach and perspectives on leadership have been the subject of feature articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, and many other business, trade, and interest publications. She has been a featured guest on CBS, CNN, Bloomberg CNBC, MSNBC and more. Kat was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni award from the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson School of Business in 2011, was featured with Cinnabon on CBS's Undercover Boss in 2012, was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2013 and CNBC’s Next 25 List of Innovators, Leaders and Disruptors 2014. She is past Chair of the Board of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, mentor in the Clinton Global Initiative LEAD program, and currently serves on the United Nations Global Entrepreneurship Council.