You don’t know the name Ron Shaich, but you probably recognize Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread.
Ron Shaich is known for having a visionary type of leadership style, and for taking big risks. One moment in his collegiate career gave Ron the push he needed to change his career plans from politician to business owner. Although the two career paths might seem on opposite sides of the spectrum, Ron says that “running a business is no different than running a campaign… a business is simply a campaign that goes on and never ends.” He started out working for a small cookie company while seeking his MBA and reached the point, that seems to be recurring in his life, where he realized his job wasn’t fulfilling his passions and he could do more.
Ron took a big leap and decided to jump into another opportunity. He combined efforts with partners and sold french baked goods from Au Bon Pain and cookies from his shop, “Cookie Jar.” Business continued to change, as it always does, and Ron created a company of value and Panera Bread became the fastest growing chain restaurant in the United States.
There’s a long list of things that we can learn from Ron’s story and entrepreneurship, but here are the top three.
Success Requires Grit
Much like the values of Imagine Media, Ron’s personality proves that grit gets you to the places you desire going. If he simply thought “Cookie Jar” was good enough, we’d never know and love Panera Bread. Ron continued to push through boundaries to continue reshaping the restaurant landscape.
You Can Change Career Paths
Even as a child, Ron was set on being a politician. He was involved in student government and studied Politics, but one simple incident changed his whole career trajectory. Yes, you can change career paths, but it’s important not to be closed off to the opportunities that may present themselves.
By 2003, Panera had done a billion dollars in sales. At this point, Ron could’ve taken a step back and done a victory lap, but he chose to charge forward. He chose to stay grounded in his company and continued to create success within the company. He never let his head get above the clouds, but always chose to stay grounded and keep the company at the forefront of his missions.
Today, Panera remains successful and so does Ron. He serves as the President of Panera Bread Foundation and Panera Cares initiative which addresses food insecurity. He serves on many different boards. Ron continues to make an impact that is worth recognizing.
Learn more about Ron's story, Panera Bread, and Au Bon Pain here
Story By: Anna Kate Newall