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Know What Matters: Lessons from a Lifetime of Transformations

Know What Matters: Lessons from a Lifetime of Transformations


Book Overview: Know What Matters: Lessons from a Lifetime of Transformations

Ron Shaich, founder and former CEO of Panera Bread, shares the lessons he learned from a lifetime of asking what really matters and then making the transformations necessary to bring what really matters to life.

Shaich is a business visionary who has been part of building three iconic restaurant brands: Au Bon Pain, Panera Bread, and now Cava. Along the way, he developed "fast casual," a $100 billion-plus segment of the industry. Now he reveals what he learned about entrepreneurship, running large enterprises, business transformation, and life itself. He illustrates these lessons with his experiences turning a 400-square-foot cookie store into 2,400 restaurants with $5 billion in revenue, delivering annual investor returns of 25 percent over two decades, and outperforming both Starbucks and Chipotle. How did Shaich succeed repeatedly in such a notoriously tough industry? By discovering today what will matter tomorrow and never hesitating to undertake sweeping transformations in order to get the job done.

Shaich offers clear-headed lessons for the entire life cycle of an enterprise, from bootstrapping a startup to going public to managing large companies to selling a business. And the relevance of his message doesn't end in the boardroom. He challenges readers to grapple with how the business impacts life, sharing his own struggles and setbacks with as much candor as he describes his successes.

Telling yourself the truth, knowing what really matters, and getting it done is the path to creating and sustaining a meaningful life, a market-leading business, and even a healthier society. Shaich's reflections are sometimes practical ("Make smart bets"), sometimes philosophical ("Conduct an annual pre-mortem"), often challenging ("You don't own the business, the business owns you"), and always incisive ("You take the money, I'll take control."). Know What Matters is a powerful guide to building transformative businesses while leading a life you respect and leaving a positive impact on the world.

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PublisherHarvard Business Review Press
Publication Date2023
Dimensionsin x in x in
Weight lbs

"...this mix of history, memoir, and business guidance delivers insight on running successful chain restaurants by focusing on customers. Shaich's account of creating fast-casual dining is the most intriguing." -- Library Journal

Advance Praise for Know What Matters:

"While there are many accounts of enterprises successfully disrupted by their founders, what distinguishes Ron Shaich's book is his willingness to share how his relentless questioning of his companies, even on the heels of their greatest successes, took them to even greater heights. For those of us who have experienced his companies as consumers, competitors, and observers, this book finally describes how his extraordinary track record seems to repeat itself over and over again." -- Brad Bloom, cofounder, Berkshire Partners

"Ron Shaich is a true pioneer of conscious capitalism--a purpose-driven leader with a relentless focus on the long term and a deep love for the transformative power of business. I've long valued his wisdom in the boardroom and beyond, and I have no doubt that Know What Matters will be instrumental in shaping the next generation of conscious leaders." -- John Mackey, cofounder, Whole Foods Market; author. Conscious Capitalism

"Know What Matters is packed with practical advice and real-world examples to help readers create businesses of value and lives with meaning." -- Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution; cofounder, AOL

"Ron Shaich's Know What Matters is a must-read for entrepreneurs, leaders, and anyone who wants to be more effective in life. Ron was obsessed with delighting his customers and coworkers at Panera long before it was fashionable to do so, and in the process produced a truly amazing 70x return from his IPO in 1991 until he sold Panera in 2017." -- Will Danoff, Portfolio Manager, Fidelity Contrafund

"Ron Shaich shares his compelling journey from budding entrepreneur to seasoned CEO, navigating the professional and personal twists and turns he's experienced while seeing a compelling idea early on, building it to scale, and then persuading a lot of other people to come along for the ride. The stories in this book are chock-full of enormously valuable lessons for business builders at any stage of their careers." -- Danny Meyer, author, Setting the Table

"In a decade covering Ron Shaich's career at Panera Bread, I have found him to be thinking ten years in advance of everyone else and usually proven right. He has done this while staying humble, true to himself, and bringing entire teams along for the ride of a lifetime. Read this book if you want to know what true leadership is all about." -- Brian Sozzi, Executive Editor, Yahoo! Finance

Ron Shaich is an eminent American businessman famed as the founder and former CEO of Panera Bread, an award-winning bakery-café chain renowned for its fresh, artisanal offerings. With an entrepreneurial vision from a young age, Shaich transformed a small cookie store in Boston into a $5 billion revenue-making success story that boasts over 2,000 locations across the US and Canada. His forward-thinking business acumen and relentless innovation have earned him widespread recognition in the industry. Through his remarkable leadership, Shaich pioneered the "fast casual" concept in dining, making Panera the first nationwide chain to voluntarily display calorie counts on its menu, and the first to announce a clean food menu - free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and flavors. This commitment to customer health reflected in increased brand loyalty and noticeable growth, solidifying Shaich's standing as a trailblazer in food business. Beyond the realms of business, Shaich is a generous philanthropist committed to addressing societal issues related to food security. He established the Panera Cares initiative, a non-profit division of Panera Bread aiming to combat food insecurity. His work exhibits a blend of entrepreneurial spirit with a hunger for making a positive impact, making Ron Shaich an extraordinary figure in the business and philanthropic world.

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