Apr 9, 2019
Michael J. Coles is an Atlanta business executive, serial entrepreneur, education advocate, well-known public speaker, and the namesake of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. After almost two decades in the clothing business, he cofounded Great American Cookies in Atlanta in 1977 and grew it into the largest cookie store franchise in the United States.
Coles’s story of personal perseverance is as impressive as his business acumen. Following a near-fatal motorcycle accident six weeks after founding the cookie company, he recovered through a self-designed rehabilitation program and went on to set world records in three coast-to-coast bicycle races. Coles’s commitment to community service led him to run for the House of Representatives against Newt Gingrich in 1996 and for the U.S. Senate against Paul Coverdell in 1998, the same year he sold Great American Cookies. For the next four years he chaired the Georgia Film Commission and served on the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, the Kennesaw State University Foundation board, and the Walker School board.
In 2003 he took the helm at Caribou Coffee, where he more than doubled the size of the company, opened a commercial sales division and an international market, and took the company public on nasdaq under the symbol cbou in 2005. Today he serves as chairman of Brand Holding Company and BrandBank and actively lectures about business, giving more than seventy-five talks a year at universities and corporate events nationwide. He is coauthor of the children’s book The Land of the Caring Bou with his wife, Donna.
His new book "Time To Get Tough: How Cookies, Coffee and a Crash Led to Success in Business and Life" reminds us that there are no limits as to what we as individuals can accomplish.
Enjoy this engaging conversation between Michael Coles and Lou Diamond.
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