Raising the level of your leadership




Auntie Anne’s Four P’s…And One F


I love Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels (upper level at Cool Springs Mall, and in airports everywhere). You can get them plain, with salt, with cinnamon, dipped in mustard, and so on. My favorite? Plain. (Those of you who know me well are not surprised.)

Auntie Anne’s founder was Anne Beiler. Her husband’s parents loaned her $6000 in 1988 to buy a pizza/ice cream/pretzel store in a Downingtown, PA, indoor farmers market. The first store opened in February and the second came only five months later. After deciding to specialize in pretzels, the first-year sales were $100,000—not too bad for a $6000 investment. The rest is history. Today, Auntie Anne’s (now owned by Focus Brands) has more than 1500 locations worldwide.

As the story is told by Dinah Eng in her article, Soft Pretzels out of Hard Times (Fortune, July 22, 2013), Anne Beiler’s success formula was p1 + p2 + p3 = P:

  • p1 = purpose: provide funds for free marriage/family counseling
  • p2 = product: their pretzels are great—more than 100 million “going down” every year (if I worked at an Auntie Anne’s, I would be about 4 sizes too big for my jeans)
  • p3 = people: a husband who stood by her through some very hard personal years; a friend who put up $1.5M for the first big expansion; employees who roll and serve great pretzels with a smile
  • P = profit: and lots of it because they got the three little p’s right

Actually, according to Beiler, there is an important F in the formula (p1 + p2 + p3 + F = P) because one of her foundational values is her faith in God.

Is your enterprise floundering a bit? Why don’t you try the 3p + F formula?

p1 (purpose greater than self)
+p2 (product/service excellence)
+p3 (people you count on and count on you)
+F (faith in God)

Focus on three little p’s of your own choosing—augmented with some F—instead of worrying about the big P. Not only will you enjoy leading more, but you’ll also be more effective, and the big P will come if you get the little p’s—and the F—right.


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© Copyright 2021 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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