What do business and politics have in common in today’s climate? Panera Bread Founder and Chairman of the Board Ron Shaich and FoodCorps Co-Founder and CEO Curt Ellis discuss how responsible leadership can inform both business and politics and the central role that food could play. “One of the most powerful things we can do as leaders is first, tell ourselves the truth,” says Shaich. “The hardest part of making decisions is the uncertainty that occurs… You need to project the confidence to everybody to get them over the hurdle while you yourself are unsure.” Ellis describes a key leadership moment when FoodCorps began developing a whole new realm of business skills to address the supply side of school food. “The decision to say: ‘We believe we have the ability to get good at something we’re not yet good at’ was a real decision to put ourselves out there,” he believes.
Ellis sees the power of food in addressing political problems. “Food is this place where so many of the challenges that we must learn how to solve in our country intersect. Food is the place where social justice and racial justice meet environmental sustainability and public health,” he says. Shaich laments the problems created by short-term thinking in business and politics. “We need to examine why our politics has gotten so short term, so coarse and so ‘it’s my way or the highway,’” he says. “Unless we can solve that, we’re not going to be the country in the future that we’ve been in the past.”
Get inspired as two leaders who have found ways to change the world through food share their advice on leadership and making a lasting impact.