I attended the 14th Annual Leadership Conference, hosted by the IFA’s (International Franchise Association) Women’s Franchise Committee (WFC) in Orlando, Florida. The WFC is designed to develop relationships with franchising professionals, to address issues, share ideas and offer solutions related to franchising in the local communities.
The conference theme was Dare to be Bold: Taking Risks For Reward – “It’s been said that if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. The great recession caused many organizations to drastically change the way they look and operate.” The Leadership Conference offered the opportunity to listen to top franchise leaders share stories of bold decisions they made that would forever change the shape of their brands.
The guest speaker was Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon; Inc. a division of FOCUS Brands Inc. Cinnabon operates more than 770 franchised locations worldwide. Prior to her role with FOCUS Brands at Cinnabon, Inc., she was VP of Training and Development for Hooters of America, Inc.
Kat shared her story of working as a server at Hooters at the young age of 19 and was handpicked to travel to Sydney Australia to open the country’s first Hooters. Kat had never flown before but she took her mother’s advice and “figured it out and made it happen” flying from Jacksonville, FL to Miami to get her passport and soon after traveling to Australia. By the age of 20, Kat was traveling all over the world to conduct new employee training and opening new locations. When Kat left Hooters in January 2011 she was Vice President of Training and Development.
As Kat told her story there was a recurring message: “figure it out and make it happen.” We live in a time of change and Kat told us that no amount of change can work without connections and relationships. She said the people you engage with, the connections you make and the relationships you have are with individuals that can and will be your biggest advocates.
Kat was an excellent presenter and listening to her validated decisions I have made over the last few months. Change is not easy and sometimes in order to change you must take risks. With the risks there is an uncertainty of the future. Getting pass the fear of the unknown and taking the steps to figure it out and “make it happen” is not as hard as I once thought.
Kat’s encouragement to build new relationships comes easy for me. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy attending conferences. I love social media and I have built strong connections using the various platforms but the in-person networking provides the face-to-face experience that I miss in the virtual world.
One of the new friendships that I built at IFA was with Tra Williams. Tra is more than 6’ tall so he is not easily missed in a crowd. But what really stands out is his passion for franchising and entrepreneurship. He exudes a deep commitment to helping others succeed and a strong drive to learn and share as much as possible.
Watch this video of Tra and I am confident you too will want to learn more about him and how you can connect.
Kat was right on the mark for me. I’m more than ready to “Figure it out and make it happen”. And as Dr. Beatrice Berry (author, sociologist, lecturer and educator) said; “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.”
On March 1st I will leave what I have known and loved (Computer Explorers) for the last 16 years to start a new career as President of Deb Evans Consulting, LLC. I am confident it will be an exciting new adventure filled with new relationships, connections and risks!