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.
About Know What Matters
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.