The profile of Tito Beveridge, Founder and CEO of Fifth Generation, maker of Tito’s Handmade Vodka includes references to a half dozen job experiments before Tito decided to turn his vodka making hobby into a business. The Sunday New York Times column called “The Boss” is linked here.
I am not a picky vodka drinker and so Tito’s easily meets my criteria: smooth, reasonably priced, and domestically produced. Tito says a “motivational speaker” on TV suggested that people at a crossroads consider what they enjoy doing and what they are good at doing; for Tito it was making vodka. Last year he sold more than 500,000 cases.
Panera Bread, operator of coffee, sandwich and salad shops is currently the second-best performing U.S. restaurant after Chipotle. Their Founder and co-CEO Ron Snaich has also had an interesting career path, starting in public policy, then the cookie business and back to government once more before buying the Au Bon Pain chain and turning it into Panera Bread. Shaich says he spends a lot of time thinking about how technology will help the next generation of restaurants compete. Panera Bread currently operates almost 1,500 locations. The Venture column in the August 13, 2012 Fortune magazine requires a subscription, but it’s worth it. Check these guys out and let me know what you think.