Know What Matters: Lessons from a Lifetime of Transformations

  • 7h 48m 20s
  • Ron Shaich
  • Gildan Media
  • 2024

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.

About the Author

Ron Shaich is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of Panera Bread and of Au Bon Pain and is the current Chairman and lead investor in Cava, Tatte, Life Alive, and Level99. Shaich makes his investments through Act III Holdings, a $1 billion–plus evergreen investment vehicle. In Shaich's last two decades as CEO, Panera generated annualized shareholder returns of 25 percent and was the best performing stock in the restaurant industry. Shaich is often credited with defining the $80 billion fast casual segment and is known for continually disrupting industry paradigms to find new ways to build companies of value and with values. Shaich has twice been recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, was selected as the 2018 Restaurant Leader of the Year, and was presented the prestigious Nation's Restaurant News Pioneer Award as one of the most significant contributors in the history of the restaurant industry, joining the ranks of Colonel Harland Sanders, Ray Kroc, Norman Brinker, and J. Willard Marriott.

In this Audiobook

  • Chapter 1 - Future Back
  • Chapter 2 - Competitive Advantage Is Everything
  • Chapter 3 - Means, Ends, and By-products
  • Chapter 4 - Entrepreneurs Are Opportunists
  • Chapter 5 - Think Before You IPO
  • Chapter 6 - You Take the Money; I’ll Take Control
  • Chapter 7 - Feeding the Growth Monster
  • Chapter 8 - Empathy Unlocks the Future
  • Chapter 9 - Discovering Today What Will Matter Tomorrow
  • Chapter 10 - Defining What You Stand For
  • Chapter 11 - Getting It Done
  • Chapter 12 - You Don’t Own the Business; the Business Owns You
  • Chapter 13 - Business (and Life) Requires Hard Choices
  • Chapter 14 - Develop with Discipline
  • Chapter 15 - Break the Cycle of Failure
  • Chapter 16 - Be the Innovator in Chief
  • Chapter 17 - Make Smart Bets
  • Chapter 18 - Seek Out the Tough Stuff and Create a Barrier to Entry
  • Chapter 19 - Know When to Fold ’Em
  • Chapter 20 - If You Don’t Have Control, Credibility Is Your Currency
  • Chapter 21 - The Doing of the Doing
  • Chapter 22 - Business Would Be Easier without People
  • Chapter 23 - Parish Priest in a Business Suit
  • Chapter 24 - Be Contrarian: Conserve in a Boom, Build in a Bust
  • Chapter 25 - Business Is Personal
  • Chapter 26 - Managing the Desire-Friction Ratio
  • Chapter 27 - Making the Transformation Operational
  • Chapter 28 - Finding New Runways for Growth
  • Chapter 29 - Coming Clean—with Yourself and Others
  • Chapter 30 - Keep Your Promises
  • Chapter 31 - Know When to Sell
  • Epilogue: Transformation Never Ends