The Long Game: Panera Founder Ron Shaich Is Preaching Against Short-Term Thinking In Business & Politics

Ron Shaich, the founder of Panera Bread, the ultra-successful fast-casual chain, resigned from his CEO job in 2017 and is now talking more about what he sees as one of the unique plagues in American business, as well as politics: short-term thinking. 

We talk in this conversation about how Shaich, a college student with no interest in business, got interested in his line of work, and how his lessons learned in business apply to business. We also touch on whether Shaich himself, who spoke recently at a political event in New Hampshire — a key presidential primary state — has any interest in running for office himself. We talk about his time working on political campaigns in the 1980 cycle for a Democratic consultant, which I found fascinating.  

Of President Trump, Shaich is critical, but he told me he has “profound respect for those that are voting for Trump [and] for what they’re trying to communicate.” But, he says he thinks Trump is doing a “poor job of delivering” for the people who voted for him. 

“He’s the antithesis of everything I believe a business person to be,” Shaich said. “Trump is not a solution. Trump, as I said, is a human hand grenade that was meant to drain the swamp. The problem is, is the solution draining the swamp, or fixing the environment we call Washington so it better serves us?”

Shaich believes the core problems in business and politics is that “we’ve lost the patience to take the long view, and we have found ourselves in this place where our structures don’t support it.”