This interview with Kat Cole, presidentof Cinnabon, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
A. My mom left our father when I was 9. I have two younger sisters, so from a very young age I had a leadership role at home. My mom would leave a list, and when the girls would get a little bit out of line, I would be the father figure, and when we were having fun, I would be the sister. Then, as I moved through school, I was always in leadership roles, like class president.
Tell me more about your mother.
She graduated high school and was a secretary for most of the time we were growing up. When she divorced our father, she had to pick up other jobs. For three years, she fed us on a food budget of, at the time, $10 a week. We didn’t grow up thinking, “Oh my gosh, we’re poor,” because we had a house. So we always felt that we were pretty lucky. And her mantra for us was: “I want you to be able to take care of yourself. You need to be able to take care of yourself.” It was all about being independent.
Did she have other favorite expressions?