Business (and Life) Requires Hard Choices

There are moments in life when your whole perspective is turned on its head—when you experience what can only be described as a paradigm shift. For me, one such moment came during Christmas break in 1996. It was a couple of months after I’d walked into our completed Wheat Store and felt like I’d found God, but now I was sitting on a beach in the Caribbean—one of the most beautiful spots in the world—and feeling profoundly unsettled.

What occupied my mind that day, like most days, was my company. Specifically, the division of the company we’d now named Panera Bread. I knew instinctively that it was something truly rare in the restaurant world. Panera had a real shot at evolving into a nationally dominant ...

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