Time to Get Tough
How Cookies, Coffee, and a Crash Led to Success in Business and Life

Michael J. Coles and Catherine M. Lewis

An inspirational and unconventional Georgia-grown success story


“Coles’s story captures the powerful impact that flows from curiosity, continuous learning and renewal, and always being open to new ideas and the next challenge.”
—John Rice, CEO, GE Global Growth

"Entrepreneurs need more stories about grit and perseverance, taking risks, and facing failure. If you're even thinking about starting a business, you should read this book."
—Ben Chestnut, cofounder and CEO, MailChimp

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Michael J. Coles, the cofounder of the Great American Cookie Company and the former CEO of Caribou Coffee, did not follow a conventional path into business. He does not have an Ivy League pedigree or an MBA from a top-ten business school. He grew up poor, starting work at the age of thirteen. He had many false starts and painful defeats, but Coles has a habit of defying expectations. His life and career have been about turning obstacles into opportunities, tragedies into triumphs, and poverty into philanthropy.

In Time to Get Tough, Coles explains how he started a $100-million company with only $8,000, overcame a near-fatal motorcycle accident, ran for the U.S. Congress, and set three transcontinental cycling world records. His story also offers a firsthand perspective on the business, political, and philanthropic climate in the last quarter of the twentieth century and serves as an important case study for anyone interested in overcoming a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Readers will also discover practical leadership lessons and unconventional ways of approaching business.

Page count: 232 pp.
33 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $24.95

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MICHAEL J. COLES is an entrepreneur, businessman, and community leader. He is the cofounder of the Great American Cookie Company and the former CEO of Caribou Coffee. He is also the namesake of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. He lives in Atlanta and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

CATHERINE M. LEWIS is the assistant vice president of Museums, Archives, and Rare Books and a professor of history at Kennesaw State University. She is the author, coeditor, or coauthor of thirteen books, including (with Sandra D. Deal and Jennifer W. Dickey) Memories of the Mansion: The Story of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion (Georgia).