Leadership, Change, and Driving Innovation: Insights from the LMA Annual Conference

The LMA Annual Conference kicked off this year with an inspirational keynote speaker, Kat Cole, President, Cinnabon Inc. Kat’s presentation “The Difference – Lessons in Leadership, Change, and Driving Innovation” provided concrete leadership examples while tying them back to practical applications within firms.

During the session Kat shared her inspiration as she moved up from working as a hostess at 17 to becoming one of the youngest executives in the hospitality industry by the age of 26. Throughout the session she discussed the importance of partnerships in building brand reputation. Here are a few of the key snippets from the session:

Partnerships

  • What Makes Sense
    You should be thinking about what strategic partnerships make sense to expand your business and brand. When being approached for a partnership, you should always ask “will I be a competitor or a collaborator,” make sure it is the right fit.
  • Build Relationships
    You need to be building relationships or the competition will. Think about how you can partner with the people who can help your business grow.
  • Key Advice
    You should be looking for partnerships, not waiting for them to knock on your door or you will miss out. Lastly, no matter what, none of the above matters if you are not making a positive impact on the people around you!

Branding

  • First Things First
    You need to know how your brand got started… what got you to where you are today? Cinnabon focused on relevance and differentiation to build their global brand and firms should too! Products have to be differentiated to stand out in the market, services are no different.
  • Value
    In order to build your brand you need to deliver value to those you serve. Cinnabon’s goal is to WOW their guests. Kat listens to feedback, reads tweets, and completes searches to see what people are saying about the brand. That’s how you innovate and create new products or offerings. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out to your biggest critics and ask them “how can I help you?” They may become your biggest supporters!

Kat’s transparency and authenticity made her an amazing speaker at this year’s conference. The way she linked her personal and professional life experiences to practical business applications was spot on. With that, we will leave you with our final favorite advice from Kat:

The Hot Shot Rule: Think what would a hot shot do in this situation? You have to be willing to do things differently! Bring new ideas to the table and don’t be afraid of change.

Settling and just being grateful for what you have can also lead to complacence. Make sure you are always evaluating yourself and striving for excellence.

Question yourself and listen to others, make the call to make a change.

“If you don’t do it someone else will. That should be enough motivation to innovate and create.” – Kat Cole

INTERACT: If you attended the session or have seen Kat speak in the past, what were your favorite key takeaways?

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