Leadership Lessons From Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis

Nigel Travis, the 63-year-old CEO of $700 million (sales) Dunkin’ Brands, was in New York City on Friday to celebrate National Coffee Day (who knew?). Dunkin’, founded in 1950, runs the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins franchise chains from its base in Canton, MA. Travis rang the opening bell at NASDAQ and then later that morning, he talked to me about the leadership lessons he learned in various human resources and executive posts at companies like Blockbuster, Burger King and Papa John’s before becoming CEO of Dunkin’ in 2009. He is presiding over the company’s expansion into his native England, into Southern California, across the U.S. and into other spots around the world. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation.

What leadership lessons did you learn growing up?

I was born in East London into an entrepreneurial family. My dad had several businesses including a twine and rope wholesaling business and a toy distribution business. We used our garage as a warehouse and one of my earliest memories is of my mother carrying huge bales of paper into the garage to load into our vans. That taught me that to be successful in life, you need to work very hard.

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