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3 Tips from a Former Dunkin’ Donuts CEO

“America runs on Dunkin’,” but who runs Dunkin’? At Bold TV, we look back on CEOs that built successful empires such as Dunkin’ Donuts. Hosts Philip Michael and Tal Heinrich got to chat with Robert Rosenberg, Dunkin’s CEO from 1963 to 1998. Many businesses met their match in the year 2020 and were forced to evolve, but Rosenberg praised many of these companies for adapting to the needs of the consumer, taking advantage of the digital age and moving to drive-through and takeout operations. And despite this year’s challenges, people still are taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. If that’s you, here are some tips from someone who’s been around the block.

3 tips from a former Dunkin’ Donuts CEO

  1. Know your trade. “There’s an 80/20 rule,” Rosenberg shares. “80% of entrepreneurs have worked at least three to five years in their industry.” With this advantageous start, people learn the trade, find the gaps and build a better business. And while no advantage is sustainable forever, he says that knowing the trade is a solid competitive advantage. Dunkin’ was always part of his life, as he took over the family business at 25 years old.
  2. Keep going after setbacks. “Life is lumpy,” Rosenberg tells his children. In the first five years of taking over his family business, Universal Food Systems, he sold off several of the businesses to focus on one: Dunkin’ Donuts. But the next five years, he stretched the business too far and got fired – the biggest setback of all. “Luckily, I talked my way back,” he said. “The point is, it’s a long journey to do that.”
  3. Listen and keep learning. “Keep two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as you’re talking,” Rosenberg advises. The only way you can keep growing is to keep learning. And how can you learn if you never listen to counsel?

Grab a donut and get to work!

“It really requires some knowledge of the business, a love of the product, a love of the business, a great team, and the ability to be able to pick yourself up and keep going,” Rosenberg says. No matter what stage your business is in, listen and learn from seasoned professionals that made it through the setbacks. Grab a Dunkin’ iced coffee and some Munchkins for fuel, and then get to work!


Read about two businesses that adapted in 2020:

This Entrepreneur Used Her Factory to Make Masks for All

This Entrepreneur Created Virtual Arts and Crafts Parties for Kids

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