From the Farm to Franchising: The Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Story with Anne Beiler
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels founder Anne Beiler joins Ray to share her near-miraculous business origin, and the personal tragedies and trauma she endured along the way to becoming the leader she is today.
Born and raised in an Amish-Mennonite community in Pennsylvania, Anne grew up surrounded by faith and family. She married her teenage crush, Jonas Beiler, and began a peaceful life as newlyweds. Then in 1975, their 19-month-old daughter, Angela Joy, died tragically in a farming accident. This began a season of darkness and depression for Anne, that deepened with a six year period of spiritual abuse from her pastor.
Jonas and Anne started a journey of counseling and restoration that began healing themselves and their marriage. In 1988, Anne bought a concession stand at a farmers’ market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and Auntie Anne’s Hand Rolled Soft Pretzels was born.
Auntie Anne’s grew into the world’s largest pretzel franchise. In 2005, Anne Beiler sold Auntie Anne’s in order to speak to audiences on leadership, purpose, and the power of confession. She founded Broken Silence in 2018 with a mission of teaching and equipping women about living a lifestyle of confession that leads to freedom.
“I think that fear is the greatest factor when it comes to not pursuing our purpose for which we were created.”
“If you’re going to grow, you have to delegate.”
“You can’t do anything about what you don’t have, but you can do a whole lot with what you have.”
1. Do what’s at hand the best you can.
2. Don’t waste energy wishing for what you don’t have – put your energy into what you have that will move you forward.
3. Be in tune with what God wants you to do.
4. In our pain, we believe mostly lies.
5. Don’t leave God at home.
The Secret Lies Within
Twist of Faith
Anne’s TEDx talk
Ray: Well, hello everyone, this is Ray Hilbert, and I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, and if this is the first time you’ve joined us here, welcome; if you’re a long-time subscriber, welcome back. You know that this is the program where we travel the country and we get the opportunity to interview some of the most amazing Christ followers who are business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs, athletes, coaches, really high-profiles, and we really focus in on the topic of the integration of faith and business and bridging that gap in the marketplace.
And I am so excited to be with you today, I am in Salado, Texas, and I am in the home with Anne Beiler. You may know of Anne, but if you don’t know her by name, I bet you know her by what God allowed her to develop, and that’s Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. I know it’s my wife’s favorite dessert, every time we go to an airport, every time we go to a shopping mall, she gets one of those almond pretzels with caramel dip, and it’s the best. And so we are here with Anne Beiler at Bottom Line Faith. Anne, welcome to the program.
Anne: Thank you, I am so glad you’re here, and I’m excited about our conversation.
Ray: We are going to have fun. First of all, tell us a little bit about your place here in Salado, what’s going on here, this is an amazing place.
Anne: We have lived in Gap, Pennsylvania, all of our lives, and we moved here in the year 2013, after a year of soul-searching, and God really directed us with the idea of surrender, and maybe some day we can talk about that and do a show on surrender because it’s been quite a journey for us, and I always felt like, as a Christian, I am surrendered, but when we were challenged with surrendering all that we have, I’m going to tell you, it made me cry, it was astonishing.
So that journey eventually led us to Salado, Texas, which would never have been in our plans or in the cards at all because we didn’t know about Salado, but our daughter moved in July of 2013, and as we were pondering surrender, we ended up following her then to Salado, so that’s why we’re here. And God promised us, when he asked us to surrender, that he would provide for us, and he provided this place, it’s a place of peace.
Ray: So you obviously grew up a long way from Salado, Texas.
Ray: So let’s go back, tell us a little bit about your early life, where you grew up, what was life like for you?
Anne: I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and anyone that knows that area knows it’s the hub of Amish culture. I had the great privilege of growing up on an Amish farm, my parents were Old Order Amish, horse-and-buggy Amish, and no electricity, until I was about three. And then my dad left the Amish church, which was very courageous and bold on his part, because he wanted to farm with a tractor, and he left the church because of that. So I ended up going to an Amish Mennonite church, which looks Amish, we all looked Amish, but we were able to have a black car and electricity, and my dad was able to farm with a tractor. So, in that way, we were, in some way, far above the Old Order Amish life, even though we looked very Amish.
But my whole culture, my whole community, my dad, there was 11 in their family, 9 in my mom’s family, I grew up in a family of 8, so there’s just a lot of community going on, and that’s why I feel blessed to have grown up in that culture. Moving to Salado, it was like, wow, I didn’t have my community anymore, that was very, very difficult for me to adjust to that. So I’m grateful for the heritage, not just the community, but also mom and dad, they weren’t perfect parents, but they were good parents, and they loved God and wanted all of us to love God. So when you’re Amish, you go to church every Sunday, whether you want to or not, you’re not sick, you don’t stay home to watch a football game, you just go to church every Sunday.
Ray: It’s what you do.
Anne: And so it was that. And also some of the traditions that we had was sitting around the supper table, breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day until I got married at the age of 19, there was no snacking around in the afternoon and sneaking cookies and candy, or eating on the run.
So it was a very, very different culture than what I live in today, but I do believe it just set me up to become a successful entrepreneur because anyone that’s an entrepreneur understands it’s a lot of hard work and the work never gets done, and so on the farm, it’s all about hard work, and it never gets done; you wake up every day, maybe you didn’t get it done yesterday, so you got to finish your chore, so there’s always work to be done. So I grew up in that, when I was 5, 6, 7-years-old, going after the garden and picking peas for mom for lunch, we were always working, but my dad made us believe that working is fun, and we actually-
Ray: So he was in sales?
Anne: Yeah, absolutely, he influenced us in an amazing way, to believe that … actually, I still believe that working is fun. It was fun because we made games out of everything that we did, whether it was picking baskets of tomatoes in 10 acres of tomatoes, or going and groveling in the dirt to gather potatoes, or weeding and hoeing, we always were very competitive, who can get it done first.
So I guess I grew up in a competitive family, which I think is typical of large families, but the hard work ethic and doing what you don’t feel like doing is what I learned to do as a kid, and I think my greatest lesson from the chore of simply baking pies for market when I was 12-years-old, and I baked 60 or 70 pies by myself that were actually good enough to sell the next day at the farmer’s market. I remember walking down the steps, my mom was at market, so it was my job, and I did it by myself, the rest of the kids had other chores, and I remember walking down the steps, crying, I just did not want to do this by myself. It’s called perseverance, perseverance is simply doing what you don’t feel like doing, and I learned that on the farm.
Ray: That is very powerful, and those skills, that culture, the mindset really were foundational.
Ray: How did the idea and the concept of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, how did that come about?
Anne: Auntie Anne’s was never in my mind, I didn’t grow up with the aspiration that some day I’m going to be the pretzel queen. It certainly never dawned on me that pretzels was a part of our life. So I think that when Auntie Anne’s started, it was simply based on the need to provide for our family, and so when Auntie Anne’s started, I had no aspiration as far as doing a worldwide, international franchise company, it was simple to make ends meet.
As we started the first store, and we realized that we had a great product, the product itself is a miracle and it’s a mistake, actually, on our part, and maybe we’ll talk about that later, I’m not sure. But the whole idea just blew us away because we started with the one store, and then two stores the same year, and the next year we did 12 stores, and the next year it was 35 stores. We didn’t know anything about business, we knew nothing about franchising, that was like, “Okay, I think I heard the word, like McDonald’s, I think it’s a franchise,” so that’s all I knew about franchising.
So we went into the company totally uneducated or ignorant of what franchising really is, and as we discovered that, it was scary. I read a book, it was called Franchise Opportunity, by [Don B. Rowan 00:08:27], I read that book, there was knots in my stomach from the time I started ’til the time I was done, I’m like, “This is not what I signed up for, I just want to make some pretzels.” So, quickly, we realized what we’re doing, we had to make a lot of changes in the middle of the stream. But everything that I learned on the farm, it was so important for me to be able to go back to my-
Ray: Yeah, your roots.
Anne: My roots and to what I knew, and to what I knew how to do because I had to focus on what I knew how to do because I didn’t know what I was doing, and so the how-to just kicked into gear, what was that? It was like you just got to do what’s at hand, and you just got to do it the best you can, and you just got to bring people in that know how to do things that you don’t know how to do. On the farm, we all had our roles, I knew how to bake, my sister knew how to do the yard, so at the end of the day, it’s all about working together as a team to get the job done. I learned that on the farm in my family, so I took so many things with me into the world of business that I had no idea were really that important.
Ray: Yeah. You talk a lot about that topic: focus on what you can do, focus on what you can get done, and not so much on what you can’t. Why is that so important for a business leader to really have that approach?
Anne: I think we spend a lot of time wishing that I could be, or wishing that I would have, or wishing I would maybe have had a better background, if I would have parents that stayed together and were perfect, then I could be more, or if I had more money or more education, I could be more or be better at what I’m doing, but energy that it takes to wish you were is wasted energy, you cannot do anything about what you don’t have, but you can do a whole lot with what you have. And that was truly a revelation for me at one point because I, like many people, was just whining and complaining, “If I just had a better education, if I just knew more about franchising, if I could just” all these things.
One day, my husband said to me, “Hon, just stop whining about what you don’t have,” and he just said to me, “You are Auntie Anne, God called you to be Auntie Anne, so why don’t you just be who you are?” Now that sounds simple, but I tell you, at that time, it was profound. And I remember clearly, thinking, “Wow, okay, so what do I have? What is it that I can put my energy into that will move me forward instead of thinking about what I don’t have and keep me stuck right here where I’m at?” because we never go anywhere wishing we were.
So I started focusing, and he and I discovered that what we have is a great product, and we have great people, and we have a great purpose. So the responsibility then became we have to be the best that we can be, as unto God, and we have to serve our people as unto the Lord, we want to serve our customers in a way that glorifies him, and we want to be able to have a product that is satisfying and consistent and where our customers are satisfied.
So we discovered that when we’d focus on that, all of our energy went into that, and what I didn’t have, wow, it didn’t matter anymore, it just didn’t matter. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re satisfied with where I’m at, and I’m just going to be … No, but what it meant to me was I had to become responsible to become the best that I could be at fulfilling that purpose, at loving my people, and at serving a great product. But now I have the energy to put into all of that, whereas before, I’m too busy whining, I don’t have the energy to do what I’m called to do.
Ray: That’s powerful.
Anne: So that was a discovery that we made probably three years, maybe four, into the company and it totally just changed the way we-
Ray: That is a really great foundation of where I’d like to go because two things that you didn’t have, we want to talk about the miracle, how the product itself came to be, so you didn’t go into this with the ideal business plan and recipe-
Ray: So let’s talk about that. And you also didn’t come into this with a pain-free background, you had some trauma that was a big part that could have destroyed you, could have destroyed someone without the foundation that you have, and so forth. So let’s first talk about you didn’t have the ideal recipe-
Anne: Well I’ve always said there’s three things that we did not have, and that was a formal education, we didn’t have a business plan, and we had zero capital.
Ray: Well there you have.
Anne: So there you have it. There is no way-
Ray: Set up for success.
Anne: Not according to the system of this world.
Ray: That’s right.
Anne: You’ve got to have all three of those before you even think about owning your own company, right? So without what we thought we needed, I guess in that case, ignorance is bliss. Should I say that? But we didn’t know that we needed those things to start a business. But soon after we started, when we bought the farmer’s market, we borrowed the money from my father-in-law, who was a wealthy Amish man, we borrowed $6,000, which, at that time, may as well have been a million dollars because it made me so nervous, it made my palms sweat, like, “I don’t know, how am I going to pay him back?” but he gave us the money, and then the product.
So we started with an inferior pretzel product; being the baker, I knew when I had a good product, I just always knew because people would tell you, “I like your pie,” I mean I knew when it was really good. So we were selling a few pretzels, and we bought the store and they had a pretzel recipe, and so we followed their recipe. After maybe six or eight weeks, I told Jonas one day, the pretzels were whitish and it was sort of crunchy, and they just weren’t good soft pretzels, and we didn’t understand why; we tried different ovens, we tried different trays, we tried all kinds of things to perfect the pretzel, but it was all about the recipe.
One Friday morning, I said to my husband, “Hon, I’m done, I can’t do this anymore, they’re not good, they’re awful, they look terrible, we’re not selling a whole lot, we’re selling a lot of pizza and ice cream, so let’s just do pizza.” And he looked at me and he said, “Before you give up, why don’t you let me go to the store and get a few ingredients that I think might work in this recipe?” And I’m like, “What’s the secret?” And of course I can’t tell you what he said, but I said, “Well, hey, whatever,” I was totally frustrated, I said, “Just go get the stuff, it’s fine. It’s fine, go get the stuff at the store.”
So I’m busy around the store there, and just doing my morning routines to get the store ready, and he comes back about an hour later and brought me these ingredients, and I said, “Well what are we going to do with this?” He said, “I don’t know, we’ll just add some to our recipe.” Well, we did, and Auntie Anne’s was created just like that. And from that point on, we could not make our pretzels fast enough, immediately; we had to get bigger ovens, we had to hire more people, and soon after that, we started our store in February of ’88, and July 4th, that weekend, which would have been a few months later, we sold 96 batches in one day, and there’s like 48 pretzels per batch.
It was wild and it was crazy, and we still had no idea that this was the vehicle that God gave to us for kingdom work. We had a very strong sense that this is not about us, it’s really not about us, it’s about what God’s purpose is for us and for his kingdom.
Ray: And before we go … I just want to ask you for a piece of advice. There’s probably a business owner, an entrepreneur, a leader, somebody who’s listening to this right now and they’re really frustrated, they’re discouraged, and they’re ready to give up, they’re like, “Okay, let’s just do pizza, let’s just do ice cream,” but they may just be one special ingredient, conversation, circumstance away from their breakthrough, so what encouragement, Anne, could you offer to that person who is just one thing away and they don’t even know it?
Anne: That’s a loaded question. I think that fear is the greatest factor when it comes to not pursuing our purpose for which we were created. So you’re in your business, maybe you’re there for two months, three months, maybe a year, and you’re at the end of the finance, maybe you’re running out financially-
Ray: You’re tired.
Anne: Yeah. And when you’re not making money, money is not everything, I truly get that, but I also know when you’re in business, and if you’re not profitable, your spirit gets … you just start sinking, to the point where you have no vision, no energy, you don’t even know what to do, or you would do it. So I think in that place, I think you have to ask yourself some really hard questions, “Am I doing what God wants me to do? Is this really God’s plan for me? Is this his purpose for me right now?” So I think that’s the number one question: is this the plan? Okay, if the answer is yes, then you just have to keep moving forward, and you have to do what’s in front of you.
And I also believe you have to open up yourself to others that have been there, done that, invite them into your world and say, “Hey, I know maybe it looks kind of grand and glorious on the outside, but, hey, I’m disappointed, I can’t move forward, I need your advice, I need your help, I need your support to help me get through this place that seems impossible to get through, and this is what I want to do.” And I think in that process, Ray, you have to do the right things. What is the right thing?
I don’t know if you have employees, if you’re a small company or a large company, small companies and large companies end up sometimes failing. But I feel like if you put the three things in place that we had, that was purpose, a great product, and great people, and if you’ve been in business a while and this is starting to fail, start paying attention to what is your purpose, paying attention to your people, treat them well, let them know what’s going on, don’t live in this pretend world because that will kill you, and eventually you will isolate yourself and your employees will never be able to connect with you.
So I think, if you’re in business and you’re a faithful follower of Christ, you really have to be in tune with God, “What is it that you want me to do?” So I know that sounds kind of abstract, it’s sort of like, “That’s not the answer I’m looking for,” but let me tell you, that’s exactly what I did, many times. When I felt like I could not go forward, I was too limited in my abilities, that was my biggest problem, I didn’t have the abilities, I didn’t know how; in those moments, I would just get on my knees and I would just ask God, “Show me the way,” and he always took me to the Book of Proverbs. Read the Book of Proverbs, it will give you answers for everything in your life, business or personal. So pick up the Book of Proverbs and read it and glean, and get understanding-
Ray: Yeah, I love it.
Anne: About what’s really important and what’s right. As a believer in the workplace, there are some things that we can do that are right and that God honors and blesses, and I know from my experience, there’s many times in the journey that I didn’t think I could move forward.
Ray: So you talked about you didn’t have the ideal recipe, your husband comes with some, I believe, divinely-appointed ingredients.
Anne: Absolutely, yes, true.
Ray: But you also had a pretty rough personal journey along the way, and, in fact, you’re really passionate about this topic, and this is your new book, as of us doing this conversation, this book is-
Anne: Yes, so excited.
Ray: Two days out?
Ray: So this is called The Secret Lies Within: An Inside Out Look at Overcoming Trauma and Finding Purpose in the Pain. You had a lot of pain, you had trauma. What happened?
Anne: Growing up in the Amish culture, I was pretty secure in my family. I believed that if you keep all the Ten Commandments, that God will bless your life, and if I was a good girl, that he would be pleased and smile on me and all would be well, and I basically thought that God is harsh, if I don’t obey God, if I do something wrong, that he’s going to be very displeased with me. So my culture and my teaching was, I want to call it shame-based in many ways, and yet there was a lot of good things that I learned as well-
Ray: Certainly performance-based.
Anne: Performance-based, absolutely, thank you. So I believed that God is harsh and that life is good. So when life became hard, I was totally blown away by it, I was not prepared. At the age of 19, I got married and we had two daughters, and was out lively little 19-month-old that was just always moving, and she was the delight of her dad in particular because he had lost a brother a couple years before that, and he had guarded his own heart, like after his brother died, he didn’t want to be too close, but when Angie was born, he told me after she was born, “Angie stole my heart, I’m back, I’m alive again.” So he poured himself into Angie and just enjoyed every moment with her.
My sister was driving a Bobcat for my father, working on the farm, we lived on a little farmette and we had a trailer on the farm, and my mom and dad lived just a few hundred feet from our house. Angie would always go up to see my mom for her second breakfast, and on the way up she would stop to see my sister, where she was making permastone. Fi always looked for her because her and Angie were like this, they spent every morning together, and that particular morning, Angie was earlier than usual, and Fi didn’t see her, and Angie was killed instantly as she drove over her.
What that did to me was just completely everything that I knew about God or believed, it felt like it was just crumbling inside of me. I thought I was a good girl, we were youth pastors, and we had a couple hundred young people that we were pastoring at the time, and I just didn’t understand, so why did God do this to me? I mean that’s such a silly question to ask now, when I think about it, but that’s where I was then, and so why did God allow this to happen?
And so that question just kept going over and over in my mind, and of course there was guilt because I let Angie walk up to my mom’s house, and I should have taken care of her in a better way, and there was all these guilt things that happened. So after five months of just, my husband and I now were just like the Great Wall of China, there was no connecting, and we’d had a great marriage and loved being together and had a blast, and it was just-
Ray: That pain drove a wedge.
Anne: Totally, there was nothing that connected us, we couldn’t connect. And so I went to see my pastor five months after Angie was killed, and I remember the relief I felt of actually telling him how I feel, which was amazing because I never was able to tell, I had to pretend I was okay, “I’m okay. I’m okay,” nobody knew I was grieving. Alone, you die connected, we live, and alone, I was dying, I just was pretending that all was well. And so when I went to see my pastor at the end of that, he took advantage of me, and that was the biggest shock of my life, like I didn’t know anything about sexual abuse, I didn’t know anything about adultery, I mean I was pretty naïve, I didn’t know anything about all of these things, that was 40 years ago.
So I was confused and I was just shocked, like this is my pastor, “what does that mean? I don’t know. But I knew it was bad. And I remember walking out of his office, and he had told me at that time, “You can’t tell anyone,” and I remember walking out and deciding, “All right, no, I won’t tell anyone, no one would believe me, and I guess it’s my fault.” So Angie’s death and the abuse put me in a place of darkness unlike anything that I had ever experienced. It’s hard to describe it. I can’t describe it. But I was in a dark place and going further and further into this pit of despair, for six years. And I lived in that silence because why would I tell? Who would believe me? And still going to church every Sunday and singing with my sisters in the trio, pretending that everything was well. Do you know how hard that is to do?
Ray: I can’t imagine.
Anne: I mean it’s almost impossible to live that way that long. It was so opposite of what I knew and believed that the only response to it was guilt and shame, there was nothing else that I could do except be guilty and feel terribly ashamed.
Ray: How’d you get through that? What happened.
Anne: Six years of silence. My sisters didn’t know anything about it, but he had also, and they’re telling their story in my new book, so I can talk about it, and he had also gotten to them, so the three of us were in this crazy dark place and none of us knew about the other, and then also, many years later, I found out that he also abused our youngest daughter, who, at the time, was three-years-old, and for many years he abused her as well.
So the whole world of abuse, I’m very familiar with, I know a lot about it now, and I’m grateful that I do because there’s still a lot of people that don’t know what to do, and, again, my new book will help folks, women, men, boys, girls, to maybe understand better what’s happening to them. And what I can tell you about how did I handle that and how did I actually finally get out of that, that was a grip on me, that there was no way out, I was scared to death of my perpetrator, I was scared of what people would think, I knew that if I left, Jonas would divorce me, I mean if he knew, why would he …
And so I finally got to the point of such despair, I weighed 90 pounds, and I was sick in my body from head to toe, headaches, stomach, heart, and going to the doctor a few times and seeing what’s wrong with me, and nothing wrong with me, so, okay. But, physically, when you hold that in, physically you will feel that, and I always say, at some point, it will kill you, and it’s a miracle to me that I’m still alive because it was such a dark, heavy burden to carry.
So the way I overcame that was just simply one day I told my husband, and I was scared to death to tell him because I knew, I knew that that was it. That’s something we do in our pain, we believe mostly lies; we don’t have the capacity to believe truth about ourselves and about God, and so I believe all of the lies, completely, 100%, about who I was, I was nothing, I deserved, I’m guilty, so I have to pay. Now I know Jesus died on the cross and he died there for my sins, I know that, but this is not that, it’s not enough, it doesn’t cover this, so I have to pay. And so you do that by self-destructing.
So I woke up one morning and I just couldn’t bear it anymore, and the things had come out in our church, so there was some talk, and I wanted to tell my husband before somebody else did, so I went and told him. And I was so broken at that time that there was no physical contact, I didn’t know what to do except to just tell him, so I walked up to him at his office and I just said, “Hon, you heard about pastor and the women,” and I just said, “I’m one of those women.” And he just looked at me, and that’s all, that was the extent of our conversation, except I said, “I’m sorry, and I’m a sorry person.” That’s all that was within me, that’s all I had to give; you cannot give what you don’t have, you know what I mean? And I walked away.
That afternoon, my husband came home and I was so nervous because I knew he was going to tell me that I needed to leave. So he came home, he said, “Hon, we need to talk,” and I said, “About what?” That sounds really silly, but I just told him the biggest secret of my life, what is there to talk about? So I said, “Well, okay, but I don’t know what we’re going to talk about,” he said, “Well, let’s wait ’til the girls are in bed tonight, and so we’ll talk,” so that kept me waiting a few more hours to let me know that he’s going to divorce me.
So we stood in our little kitchen in Troup, Texas, and he said to me, “Hon, I want you to be happy, and I knew that you weren’t happy, but I thought it was because Angie died. I’ll do whatever it takes for you to be happy. If you need to go away, if you need to find another place, then just tell me, don’t leave a note on the dresser in the middle of the night, but just tell me, and then I’ll help you find a place and I’ll help you pack your bags, and we’ll do it together,” but he said, “I just want you to know that if you go, you have to take the girls with you.”
Well that broke me, I said, “You mean I can stay here?” He said, “Well, sure, of course.” We never exchanged verbal forgiveness that day, but we exchanged hope. He gave me hope. I mean I was still totally broken, I didn’t have anything to give, but when he said the girls needed their mother, that let me know that he values me.
Ray: Yeah, value and worth.
Anne: Yes. So that’s my story of pain and how I worked through all that was years of counseling and recovering from all that.
Ray: And I know, Anne, you share that story, not only here, but you’ve shared that freely because so many people could look and say, “This is Anne Beiler, founder, and everything is great, and look at her life, and sold her business, and everything is perfect,” but it wasn’t perfect, but that’s where our healing comes is when we can hear from others, hear their stories, hear journeys, because who knows, somebody listening to this conversation, watching this online, maybe they’ve held something within, right?
Ray: And I’m just so grateful that you would share that, I’m grateful that you’ve written books to help heal other people, and that really had to have set you up then for the business because business is hard, we’ve talked about that. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to maybe just talk a little bit about some of the best practices from business, some of your leadership principles and lessons learned. If you could go back, think back to those very early days, if there was something that somebody could have told you in that first year or two that you would have, “That would have been the best advice, that would have been the best wisdom,” what would that have been in the early days? What would have been the most important thing that you could have learned?
Anne: Okay, so there’s a couple of things, if I can share just a couple. One is I wish I would have known early on that I was a leader, rather than a manager, there’s not a right or wrong, but it’s kind of like one or the other, you’re gifted as a manager or a leader. And so I discovered this little quote on there is a difference between leadership and management, and it helped me understand who I am and where I am most effective, and I learned that, and if I would have known that early on, I feel like there would have been things I could have worked through easier, but the frustration of not knowing what you are in the workplace, I believe that there are many leaders that should be managers, and there are many managers that should be leaders, we’re in the wrong place, we’re a square-
Ray: And what’s the fundamental difference?
Anne: Leadership is really about influence, and managing is really about managing everything.
Ray: Getting the stuff done.
Anne: Yeah, getting it done. And I was good at getting it done, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t do it all, so somewhere along the way I had to switch from management to leadership, and when I went into the role of leadership, it freed me to be who God made me to me. It’s not like, “I’m a leader and wow,” no, it was more like, “Wow, God asked me to be a leader?” I mean I just felt the responsibility of that.
It was never about perks or, like, “Because I’m a leader and I can,” no, it was a responsibility that God put on my heart, and I want to do this well. So what I did then was I started reading books about leadership and going to conferences about leadership, and it was very affirming to me to hear what leadership really is; well, that’s who I am. So, number one, I think know what you are, know which one you are.
And then another one to me was understanding what your gift is, and that happened probably three years into the business, and my pastor at that time was a great, great guy, and he came by the office and totally supported the business, and he was so excited about what was going on. One day, he came into the office and he said to me, “So how are you doing today?” And just my typical, “I’m doing great, how are you?” And he just stopped and he said, “No, I mean, really, how’s Anne Beiler today?” Wow. I just started weeping, I couldn’t answer the question because I was so overwhelmed with the everyday tasks of the business, I just said, “I know who I am, but I don’t think I can move forward. I cannot do another store, I can’t do it,” we had about 50 stores at the time.
And he said, “Well have you ever thought about using your gift?” And I said, “My gift?” Now I’m like 43 or so, and I said, “My gift? I don’t know, I don’t know what gift is,” he said, “You don’t know what your gift is? I can tell you what it is.” I’m like, “Really? You know what my gift is?” and he had known me for many years. Anyway, he proceeded to tell me that my gift is encouragement and inspiration and influencing, he said, “I knew in the church that you were a persuader, and I always wanted to be on your side.” “Well, yeah, I like to be with people and I like to pat them on the back, I mean that’s easy to do, I can do that.”
Ray: That’s your gift.
Anne: He said, “Well, that’s your gift.” You can develop your gift, but you don’t have to make it up or pretend-
Ray: And you don’t even know when you’re doing it.
Ray: Right, it’s so natural.
Anne: So I cannot tell you how, between leadership and management and understanding what my gift was, it revolutionized the way I did business. From that day forward, I started looking for people, started to delegate, looking for people that can do what I am not good at doing. For example, don’t ask me any questions about numbers, please; P&Ls, I just can’t do it, I can’t do it. So I’m starting to look for people that can do what I don’t like to do, and sometimes even things I don’t want to do, and then things that I don’t have time to do, so delegation became my next role.
And it was scary as heck, “I can do this better than you, I can run a store better than you,” and that’s how entrepreneurs are, we think that we can do it better than the next guy, but let me tell you, it’s not true. So if you’re going to grow, you have to delegate, there is no other way, and I’ve talked to many, many people in business, they have dreams and visions and expectations about where they’re going, but they can’t let go of the task; you will never grow. It doesn’t mean everybody has to become big, but if you want to, and you feel like you can grow your company bigger, well, delegation is the only way.
Ray: That is the epitome of the Christian life, it is really learning to let go-
Ray: And, as it says, let God. So in that vein, what advice would you give, what encouragement would you give for that Christ follower who’s like, “How do I live out my faith in business?”
Anne: I have to tell you, it’s easy. You don’t leave God at home, he’s living in you, so you take God wherever you go. Okay, like we know that, but how do we live it out is your question. I remember clearly, as Auntie Anne’s grew, we came from the church world, I knew nothing about business, the only thing I knew about business was how to manage my checkbook. So coming from a ministry, that kind of ministry, to business was worlds apart, in my opinion. But what I discovered is that Auntie Anne’s became my ministry, our ministry, and doing it is unto the Lord, I knew God called us to do this, which is ministry.
So, early on, as I’m thinking about evangelism, that’s kind of what I know, and so one day I’m walking through my office, and we’re growing like crazy, I was so frustrated, “Lord, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to be an evangelist?” I mean that’s just exactly how I said it. I just heard back, “No, I want you to be salt and light,” I’m like, “Wow. Okay, how do I do that? Salt doesn’t say a word, it’s only tasty, and light only shines; either one of them, they don’t say anything, they just are.”
And I realized, that day, that God wants me to be. Well, Anne Beiler likes to talk, I mean I like to tell you how to do it, I like to influence you by what I say, I just love to talk, so it just totally stumped me in my tracks, and I said, “Okay, Lord, if you want me to be salt and light, then,” I felt, again, the weight of it all. Truth sets you free, yes, but it’s very sobering when you get a revelation, you know that you didn’t come up with this idea, that it’s something that was just burned in your soul instantly, and then you begin the journey of playing that out or working that out or being that. So salt and light, to me, was a huge responsibility of living the life and not saying a whole lot, just living it. So I was satisfied with that, and that’s the way Auntie Anne’s grew, concerning taking my faith into the workplace-
Ray: Yeah, I love that.
Anne: Salt and light. Our management team at that time, we took the word “light” and did the acronym: Lead by example, Invest in employees, Give freely, Honor God, and Treat all business contacts with respect. So that became the grid that Auntie Anne’s used for the years-
Ray: It’s your core values, right, at that point?
Anne: The core values. It was amazing.
Ray: That’s fantastic. If you had to do it all over again, if you had a chance to go back and do it all over again, what is one thing you might do differently this time around?
Anne: Strictly on a business level and what I know about business, I would never franchise again.
Ray: Is that right?
Anne: That’s right. It’s a great way to grow a company, but it’s also a great way to lose control. I was so passionate about the product, and we had training and we had all the systems in place to do everything right, but at the end of the day, we could not control every store, and I’m not a control freak, but when I say “control,” I mean be consistent with the product in every store because, when you franchise, it’s a very different system. And I love the Chick-fil-A model, and so if anybody’s interesting in really getting your product out there, check out Chick-fil-A and see how they do it because they really do manage all of their stores, everybody benefits financially from it, and I think that’s a greater model. So I can say that now, but back in the day, it was really the path that God put us on, so it wasn’t terrible, and we had great franchisees, and I loved every minute of it … I say I loved every minute of it, that’s not-
Ray: In hindsight, yes.
Anne: I loved the excitement of growing the company and the challenges that came with the people that came into our company from all over the world, culturally, and pastors, attorneys, farmers, just from every walk of life came to Auntie Anne’s to do an Auntie Anne’s franchise. I don’t regret that, but if I would start a business today, which I’m not, trust me; if I was 40-years-old and I was thinking, I would take the Chick-fil-A model to expand my business, which, upfront, it takes a whole lot more capital on your part-
Ray: Yes, it does.
Anne: Which is always the biggie, but I would wait for that because of the reward of that is greater.
Ray: Perhaps it might have slowed down the expansion, but it would have caused the depth to be … yeah, that makes sense to me.
Anne: I’m just wiser than I was then.
Ray: Yeah, that’s right. Well, for our regular listeners here at Bottom Line Faith, they know that my last question that I always ask, and you’re going to nail this one, I just know it, because you’ve talked about Proverbs, how important Proverbs are. Proverbs 4:23, Solomon says to “above all else guard your heart, for from it flows all of life.” So, Anne, as we wind down our conversation today, I’d like you to offer our audience your above-all-else advice, I want you to fill in that sentence for me, “Above all else …”
Anne: Well I’m going to go to a Bible verse, Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and I will teach you in the way that you should go, and I will counsel you with my eye.” Above all else, look to God, be in tune with what he’s saying to you because he speaks to you personally, about your business, about your family, about the problems and challenges and struggles, listen, be open to what he has to say to you. That will come to you in different ways, maybe through a verse in the Bible, maybe through a friend at church, maybe through something that you see on social media, but he will guide you.
And the Psalm 32:8 came to me at a time when I was in it over my head, and he said to me, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry, I will instruct you. I’ll teach you in the way that you should go.” And above all else, I want to say believe that for you because it’s true, he will instruct you, and he’ll teach you. When men and women of this world cannot do it, he’s in your corner. If you listen, and you look for it, you will hear and you will see him, and he’ll guide you, you got to be open to his ways.
Ray: That is so fantastic. So, Anne, at this point in your life, you get a chance to speak and live out your passion for women’s issues, helping women through trauma, children and orphans. How could our audience reach out to you if they want to learn more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to find you?
Anne: Just get onto my website, www.AuntieAnne.com.
Ray: Is there an E on the end?
Ray: I want to make sure we got that right, AuntieAnne.com.
Anne: Yeah, and that will take you into my blogs; Monday, we do a little inspiration, every Monday morning, and it keeps you up-to-date with where I’m at and what I’m doing. I’m just excited, wherever you are out there, I want to come see you.
Ray: You have been so fun to be with, and truly inspirational, but more importantly, just deeply rooted and grounded, and God’s using you in an amazing way and I want to thank you for being on the program today.
Anne: It is my pleasure, my great pleasure, thank you.
Ray: Well, folks, there you’ve heard from Auntie Anne herself, Anne Beiler. We hope and trust that you have been encouraged today as we’ve learned Anne’s story, the trauma she’s been through, the difficulty of a loss of a child, issues in the church, her own background and upbringing, but most importantly, you heard how God has brought her through all of that and given her great business principles and just great success, not only from the world’s standard and the world’s eye, but from his viewpoint as well. Please check out our other conversations at BottomLineFaith.org. Until next time, I am your host, Ray Hilbert, here at Bottom Line Faith, encouraging you to live out your faith in the marketplace every day. God bless you and we’ll see you next time.