A few years ago I had the great pleasure of sharing the stage at the Conscious Capitalism CEO conference with Ron Shaich. Ron is the founder, former chairman and CEO of Panera Bread – a groundbreaking restaurant brand that today has more than 2,400 bakery-cafes under management. Read up on his story, he is a truly impressive entrepreneur who managed to sell Panera Bread at an industry-defying 18x EBITDA multiple (for an eye-watering $7.8BN).
We talked about what it takes to build and lead a company which is truly “future-ready”. One which not only talks about the future, but one which embraces the future, and actively builds for it.
He summarized his thoughts in a single sentence:
Our approach has always been to discover today what will matter tomorrow and then to transform our company into a future that is unfolding before us.
If you have heard me talk since my interaction with Ron, you have heard me repeat this sentence as mantra over and over again. Ron is spot-on:
Our role—and responsibility—as leaders (and make no mistake – we are all leaders… be it in our companies, our communities, our families, or our societies) is to figure out what matters tomorrow – to separate hype from reality, and predict when those changes become real and relevant. And then, once you can see the future for yourself, it is imperative that we paint a picture of this future—the possible future for us, our companies, communities, families, societies—and draw others into this vision. As this is what transformation at its core is all about.
What is your possible future?