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 10 business school. He grew up poor, starting work at the age of 13. 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 20th century and serves as an important case study for anyone interested in overcoming a seemingly insurmountable challenge.