Twist of Faith
Podcast #28 — Aired May 15, 2014

It’s never too late to turn your life around. This week on BetterWorldians Radio, we’re speaking with Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels about her personal journey of faith and forgiveness. Beiler will discuss her book, Twist of Faith, which documents her inspiring life story. Beiler will tell listeners how she overcame the odds to live a life of honesty, openness, and giving back and in the process launched a massively successful brand. Tune in every week to hear new guests share how they are making the world a better place and to learn how you can become a BetterWorldian!

 

 

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Anne Beiler
Founder, Auntie Anne's Pretzels
Author, Twist of Faith

“Auntie” Anne Beiler is best known as the founder of Auntie Anne’s Hand Rolled Soft Pretzels – the world’s largest hand rolled soft pretzel franchise. However, her journey to become a leading female entrepreneur began years before the first pretzel was rolled. In September of 1975, Anne and her husband experienced a parent’s worst nightmare – the loss of a child. This event propelled Anne into years of darkness during which she nearly lost her husband, her family, and her faith. Out of her pain came purpose and the desire to persevere towards success personally and professionally. Today, Anne finds her purpose as a public speaker, inspiring business communities and encouraging women across the globe.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
Joining us today is Anne Beiler, who is best known as the founder of Auntie Anne's Hand Rolled Soft Pretzels, the world's largest hand rolled soft pretzel franchise. However, her journey to become a leading female entrepreneur began years before the first pretzel rolled. In September of 1975, Anne and her husband experienced a parent's worst nightmare, the loss of a child. This event propelled Anne into years of darkness during which she nearly lost her husband, her family and her faith. Out of her pain however came purpose and a desire to persevere towards success personally and professionally. Anne shares that story in her autobiography Twist of Faith. Today Anne finds her purpose as a public speaker, inspiring business communities and encouraging women across the globe. Anne, it is so great to have you join us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Thank you for coming.

Anne Beiler
Well, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be able to share my story with your audience today.

Raymond Hansell
Oh, you're very welcome and it is quite a story. Now I see that you were actually brought up as part of an Amish community and later your family joined the Mennonite Church which had a big influence on the rest of your life. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Anne Beiler
Well growing up in an Amish community and an Amish home, I think three words describe it very well. I felt very safe as a child. It was a very simple lifestyle and I felt very secure. Simple meaning there were not a whole lot of outside voices coming into our home and so it really kept life very simple. There were eight of us kids and one mom and one dad and on the farm just growing up together I can tell you as I think back to that now I just really see the simplicity of all that because my life has gotten a little bit more complex over the last years.

Raymond Hansell
Yes, it certainly has. You wrote in your book, Twist of Faith, that you were living a happy life with your husband, two daughters when tragedy suddenly struck and changed your life and sent you on that very dark path. Could you tell us just a bit of that?

Anne Beiler
Yes, growing up in an Amish home, its really your dream and your goal as a little girl and as a young girl, a teenager to basically get married and have your own family. I grew up in such a secure life that we had no tragedy in our families, which to me is amazing but there was really nothing traumatic happened in our family so it was very simple and very safe. So growing up your desire is to just simply get married and have your own family just like your mom and dad did. Because we grew up in church and I always felt like if I'm a good girl and I do everything just right, bad theology, I know that now but at the time I thought if I do everything just right then life will always be good for me. So when our daughter Angela Joy was 19 months old and she was the love of our life of course, she was our second daughter, and she was killed on the farm. We had a very small farm and my sister was driving a bobcat helping my father with his business and Angela got in the way of the bobcat and she was killed instantly. That experience really put me in touch with pain; emotional pain, spiritual darkness, spiritual confusion. And it put me into a whole new world that I knew nothing about. It changed my life in dramatic ways but as I look back at that moment today, which is about 38 years later, I can see how that really was a pivotal moment for me in changing the way I think about myself, about God and also about feeling and understanding other people's pain.

Raymond Hansell
Well we'll be going through that journey with you today so we'll be getting into it. I'd like to also mention for our listeners that Auntie Anne's as many people know is a household name today, especially coming from Pennsylvania where we broadcast the show. It started out just as a way for you, as I understand it, to earn a little extra money. Could you tell us a little bit about the first pretzel stand?

Anne Beiler
Yes, the first pretzel stand was in Downingtown Pennsylvania and the business itself came about quite by accident and again going back to the tragic events that I just described took my husband and I to a very different place in our marriage. We'd been married seven years before Angela was killed so finding ourselves in this very dark place at the end of all of that, we went for marriage counseling which really saved our marriage and because of that then my husband went to Emerge Ministries in Akron Ohio and began to study psychology. So out of our pain, our purpose was born. Auntie Anne's pretzels came about because he wanted to do free counseling as a service to our community and so that's why I went to work and we bought our own store in Downey Town Pennsylvania. They were already selling soft pretzels so the pretzel was not my idea. It just happened to be at the store we bought so we took that product on and took it to a whole new level and took Auntie Anne's pretzels to the whole world but it really happened because we wanted to make money so that my husband could continue his free service for counseling and helping other families in our community.

Raymond Hansell
What an act of faith that was. Now you had a rather bumpy road getting that pretzel recipe just right so I'm interested in hearing. Can you tell us a little bit about how that recipe came about?

Anne Beiler
Sure. After we started our pretzel stand, like I said, they were already selling pretzels and so we just took the recipe and just continued doing the pretzels but we began to tweak it a little bit. As we began tweaking the pretzel, it was very bad. It was not a good pretzel and after about six weeks I told my husband, let's just take the pretzel off the menu and we'll just do ice-cream and pizza because we were already selling that. He said before you take the pretzel off the menu, let me try something that I learned as a kid in my mother's kitchen so I said well okay, you can go for it. So he went to the store, came back with a few ingredients and we added and tweaked the recipe some more one more time because I was going to give up. As he did, we mixed the first batch and as they began to bake and we began to smell them we were like wow, this is much different than what we had. The first pretzel out of the oven after the change of the recipe I mean really from that moment on we could never make the pretzels fast enough. The rest of the story you have to read it in the book because I don't have enough time to tell you the rest of the story about that but it really truly was an accident and we were going to give up but God had another plan and we were able to take Auntie Anne's pretzels around the world into 26 countries I believe to-date.

Raymond Hansell
Oh my word. So often these "accidents" happen to so many people that we talk to and we call them accidents but are they really.

Anne Beiler
I believe they're divine plans. Divinely planned.

Raymond Hansell
In our last business we experimented with quite a few different strategies to get as you call it the right recipe and then once we got it, of course you don't really know that you have it but you think this might be it, it really took off and so that was an amazing rocket ship ride for us in those years. I have to believe that you must have experienced something similar with this extremely rapid success with Auntie Anne's pretzels. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Anne Beiler
It was fast. Remember I went from being a stay at home mom. We had two kids at the time. One daughter was killed and then we had another child so at this time we had two daughters living. So when Auntie Anne's started, we were settled in to do one store and the girls came and helped us. Our daughters were very young but we just did this little market thing that lots of people do in Langster County and so the sampling that we began to do, I was so passionate about the pretzel and I loved it so much that I just wanted everybody to taste the pretzel. So the product that we had was very easy to sample and so we would just cut up a pretzel and I wanted to make sure that everybody that walked by our store would at least taste a pretzel because I knew if they tasted it, they would probably buy one but it was more fun for me to see them sample it and to enjoy the taste. So we went from me being a stay at home mom to doing one story in Downey Town and completely oblivious to the fact that there was a bigger plan here that we had no idea about but as we began to sample the product, we could not sell the pretzel fast enough and people began to come to us and ask us can we sell these pretzels wherever and I'd say no, no, we can't. We're just going to do this one store but as we began to -- the first year we did two stores. The second year we built ten more and then the third year we built 35 more. So going from a stay at home mom to a business woman almost overnight was absolutely a roller coaster ride, up and down emotionally and physically and I had to learn so much about the business that it was an absolute sometimes it felt like a nightmare. My husband called it a monster. He said we created a monster. We don't know what to do with it. So there was a lot of things about it that were very difficult but at the same time the excitement and the product, the people loved the product and wanted to sell the product. It just took off all on its own really.

Raymond Hansell
That's amazing. You actually referred to it as a modern day business miracle.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely.

Raymond Hansell
And hearing the story in the book, I really encourage people to get the book and read it because that aspect of the story alone is just riveting. When people see the looks of the people's faces when they tasted that pretzel for the first time must have been one of your first delights. Oh my gosh, have we stumbled along to something really fantastic but no idea how fantastic so what a magnificent ride that was. Now you write in your book about the special significance of the word LIGHT. I'll repeat this for our listeners. L - standing by lead by example. I - invest in employees. G - give freely. H - honor God. T - treat all business contacts with respect. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Anne Beiler
Well according to the Amish community and watching my dad work hard and all of my aunts and uncles, and there were a bunch of them. My mom and dad both came from very large families, 20 aunts and uncles, 40 total with their spouses. Watching my family grow up and all of my neighbors and community growing up in a very hard working, faith based, trust worthy, hand shake kind of just the way we did business in a very small way but it was the way I knew. So when I was introduced to the real world of corporate life, it was all new to me and I was surprised that wow, you can actually be a person that doesn't keep your word. You can actually tell a lie while you're doing business? I mean these kind of things were completely new to me. Quickly I realized that I don't want to do business that way. There were a lot of great business people in our community and there are many, many great people in the world that do business in a very ethical manner so I was not the first one. There's nothing new under the sun but for me, in the world that I came from and going into this sort of business, it was all new and I was surprised. Quickly I began to think about how do we want to do business and if I'm going to do business in a bigger way than just one or two stores or now I'm at 25-35 stores, how will I let people know what our mode of operation is. What is our business model? I began to think about light and I felt like light, even though its defined as simply to make things visible and light never say anything, it only shines. I wanted our company to be the kind of company that stood out, that would shine and that would do business in an ethical manner. So our management team got together and we started to talk about how we could do that. We came up with the word light and did the acronym and then we put that on all of our business cards and in all of our business materials in our articles. Whenever we had meetings we would always talk about light. It really helped define who we were as a business and what we were trying to accomplish. It became the buzz word. Every decision that we made we would look at it through the grid of light. That's how we did business in the 18 years that I was the founder and CEO of the company.

Raymond Hansell
That's an amazing model and many people would probably want to use that model in all their business contexts. You see it frankly reflected in some of the more successful businesses around the world.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely.

Raymond Hansell
You started Auntie Anne's pretzels in your late 30's.

Anne Beiler
I was actually 40.

Raymond Hansell
That's a later start than most people can imagine so what's your message to someone who says that gee its too late to start over?

Anne Beiler
Oh my goodness, its never too late. I think that life is all about attitude. If you think life is over, well maybe it is but if you think its not, then its probably not. I think its a mindset. If there's some listeners, I understand difficult times. I didn't come from a background of wealth or rich aunts and uncles or some sort of lottery. I didn't win the lottery. You know what I'm saying? I think its really a mindset and if we think that we can, we probably will so I just want to encourage people out there. You may have had some hard knocks in life and maybe its true. Maybe you have reason to feel like you're done or like I'm finished but I just want to say that's really not true if you think positively, you have faith, you believe that God can help you, let me tell you something. The sky is the limit and you are never finished. Just keep looking, keep dreaming and keep doing something. Work toward what it is you want to accomplish. Don't lie in bed all day and watch TV. You have to get up and go do the hard work. That's what I encourage people to do. Your dreams will never be fulfilled by doing nothing and just simply wishing upon a star. But what I've experienced is that hard work, faith, getting up every morning in spite of the obstacles really is what all of us need to accomplish anything in life. We're never done. As long as we're breathing there is something to do.

Raymond Hansell
For those of you listeners out there still in bed, I urge you to take heed because you're going to hear a lot more in the coming session coming beyond this about leading by example. We're going to take a short break right now but we're going to be talking more with Anne Beiler and my co-host MarySue. In the meantime, I'd like to offer this challenge to our listeners. If you know someone whose acts, no matter how small, are making a big difference in the lives of other people around the world, we'd love to hear about them. Send us an email at Radio@BetterWorldians.com. We'll be right back. (Music)

Raymond Hansell
Hi, you're listening to BetterWorldians Radio. We're speaking with Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels and now let's welcome back Anne and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi Anne.

Anne Beiler
Hello Mary, how are you?

MarySue Hansell
Really good.

Anne Beiler
Good.

MarySue Hansell
One of the reasons you began working at the pretzel stand was to make some extra money, as you said so that your husband could offer free counseling to couples and families. Can you tell us a little bit more about the work that he did and were you involved?

Anne Beiler
We actually started the counseling together as a couple and then Auntie Anne's started and then I became more involved in the business and he did more of the counseling but we did it together for a couple of years, actually probably about two years, and then after that I did very little counseling but he did counseling for about a solid ten years and then off and on for about 25 years. So counseling was really his passion and Auntie Anne's was mine.

MarySue Hansell
I saw that you eventually opened up, the family opened up the family center in Gap Pennsylvania.

Anne Beiler
Correct.

MarySue Hansell
What kind of services did they offer and do they still offer them?

Anne Beiler
Yes. Well when we sold the company back in 2005, we took the proceeds of the company and bought a farm and began to develop it and we put on the farm. The first thing we did was build a family center. We called it the Family Center of Gap. I'll tell you about where you can find that a little bit later if you would like.

MarySue Hansell
You can tell us now.

Anne Beiler
Okay. You can check out the Family Center of Gap. Its called, let me see here, its called TheGapFamilyCenter.org so if anybody is interested in what they do, they can check that out on the website and that will give you all of the information that you need. But in short, we built a 55,000 square foot building and in this place my husband had the vision for families to come and to have many of their needs met under one roof. So in that building we had a counseling center, of course. We had a nutritional center, a medical doctor. We had a public library, a cafe, a church. We had --

MarySue Hansell
Full service.

Anne Beiler
I'm sorry.

MarySue Hansell
I said sounds full service.

Anne Beiler
Yes, full service. That's a good way to put it. Yes. And so we had many types of services and the services continue to grow even to this day. So again if somebody really wants to find out what's happening there, they can go to the website.

MarySue Hansell
Sounds good. You know Anne, faith from reading your book, faith was such a huge part of your life. How do you feel your faith got you through these real big challenges you had?

Anne Beiler
Well I can tell you without faith, I would have given up. I couldn't have done what was accomplished because faith was something that was instilled into my life as a little girl and many times people in the early days of Auntie Annes would say how can you take your faith into the workplace and I would say how can I not. I mean its a part of who I am. Can I leave it at home in my bedroom or something?

MarySue Hansell
Yes!

Anne Beiler
It was part of who I was and am and so taking my faith to the workplace was natural for me. At one point, I really felt like -- and that's why we talked about light earlier, I felt like my job was not necessarily to evangelize the world in the business workplace but my job was to be salt and light in the world. To me, that was my faith in action. I began to realize that what I am needs to be more than what I say. So living my life faith became my, I like to say, my quiet testimony. Taking faith to work with me was very important and I could not have done it without my faith because in the early days and all through the life of Auntie Anne's I did a lot of praying and asking God to show me the way, and He did.

MarySue Hansell
You've had such a fascinating life but as we have heard, it hasn't always been easy. In your book you say forgiveness has become my lifestyle and the benefits from this are many; the health, the happiness and peace of mind. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Anne Beiler
Well that's a deep subject and forgiveness lots of people -- you hear a lot about it today and of course its a part of the faith community.

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Anne Beiler
But for me, forgiveness on a very personal level really became real to me when I realized that with the death of a child then we also, which you'll read about in the book, had a perpetrator that came into our family and abused me and also my daughters and nearly destroyed our lives. Over time I became bitter and very angry and again this is a very long story but I realized many years into the life of the business of Auntie Anne's actually because this all happened before the company ever started but years into Auntie Anne's business I realized that this anger was dominating me and consuming me. So I went for marriage counseling. I went to a psychologist, a psychiatrist and I was on medication for a couple of years and I was determined to empty myself of bitterness and anger because I knew it was eating my lunch. I found out that forgiving those who hurt me really didn't do a thing for them but it set me free to become all that I needed to be and all that God wanted me to be. So forgiveness set me free and it made me healthy and whole. So its a very real part of my life. It took me a long time to get to the point of forgiveness and then the second part of forgiveness was for me to be able to forgive myself for hurting my family in my behaviors before the life of Auntie Anne's as well. So forgiveness, I am not the authority on that and there's a lot of books on the subject but I do totally believe that its important for me to forgive others for hurting me but its also important for me to forgive myself when I hurt others so its become my life.

MarySue Hansell
Yes Anne, I think you're a fantastic example for someone who forgave after terrible things happened to them and their children. Most people don't realize forgiveness is so important. They think they're actually doing something good by being angry but as all the great wisdom tells us, forgiveness really releases us.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely.

MarySue Hansell
Now you wrote the very honest and open book, The Twist of Faith, which I hope our listeners run out and read the book. How has being open with your story changed your life?

Anne Beiler
Well, if you read my book you will see my life of secrets and how it nearly destroyed me so to write the book took a lot of guts on my part.

MarySue Hansell
Yes it did.

Anne Beiler
I guess a better word for that would be a lot of courage and I struggled for a very long time about writing my book. At one point I thought oh I'll just write some parts of my book and when I began to write I realized I can't write just part of my life. It has to be my whole life or not at all. What I didn't realize then that as I wrote the book, that again was part of my freedom. What I know now is that living the life of secrets nearly killed me; body, soul and spirit. But when I was able to write about my story and then even now today as I go and share my story, every time I tell it, I don't know how this is possible but its true, I feel a little bit more free. So just the secrets and darkness kill you, bringing all of your stuff into the light and being able to live an authentic lifestyle is absolutely freeing. I don't understand how it works that way but it really does. And so even today when I share your story there's still a little bit more of me that is set free. I love the life I'm living. I hate the darkness and the secrets. I can't go there anymore so this is a much better way to live.

MarySue Hansell
Absolutely. Now is that why, Anne, that you've developed the Free Indeed Conference?

Anne Beiler
Yes, that's correct.

MarySue Hansell
Can you tell a little bit about that?

Anne Beiler
Well I wanted other women to understand that its okay for them to talk about their pain, whether its in the past 50 years or maybe they're in the middle of their pain but I wanted women to understand the importance of talking about your pain and your past and your story and emphasize the power of telling your story. It's really a form of confession. So first of all I did women's classes and in the classes I would do seven women, seven weeks and seven stories. Each woman had one hour to tell their story. So it became obvious to me that as women, we want to be heard and we want to be understood but we need a very safe place to share our lives and our secrets and our stories. So I was able to create a safe place for women. Out of that, I did the women's conference where again we talk about how to free yourself and how to live a life of freedom and how to look at your story and look at your past through -- and when you tell it then you look at your story and your past in a very different light. So the more you tell your story the more free you feel. So I just wanted women to know its okay to talk about your past.

MarySue Hansell
I think that's such great advice for women because a lot of times you think you have to take all the pain and suffering by yourself. Nothing makes you feel better than sharing it.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely, that's right.

MarySue Hansell
Now I see that you're on the Board of Convoy of Hope. I was looking at it on the website. It looks like a fabulous organization. Can you tell us about that?

Anne Beiler
Yes and can you mention that website, the ConvoyOfHope.org I believe.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, ConvoyOfHope.org.

Anne Beiler
Yes, I've been on the Board for a couple of years and they are a very large organization that they're first responders to any disaster that happens such as the Haiti, Katrina, all of those disasters not just in this country but around the world. They also feed the hungry in Africa, Ethiopia, or the African continent. But they also have women's empowerment programs which I'm also a part of that team. Then they haven't forgotten about America so they do one city a month in America and go into the city for the day and give food, haircuts, and job fairs. Its just like for the total man. They go in. They call it Convoy of Hope because they have a convoy of trucks that travels across the country to feed the hungry and meet the needs of communities. They are an amazing organization and if anyone is interested in sponsoring or supporting something real genuine, they're very ethical. Just go to ConvoyOfHope.org They're amazing. They're out of Springfield Missouri.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, they really looked good. I saw they also had a Facebook page.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely.

MarySue Hansell
They were helping with the hurricane in Oklahoma and an earthquake in Nicaragua so definitely tell our listeners to check that.

Anne Beiler
Yes, they're everywhere. They go everywhere.

Raymond Hansell
Well, that's amazing that story as well. We're going to take another break at this point but when we come back we'll talk more with Anne and my co-host Greg. We'll be right back shortly. (Music)

Raymond Hansell
Hi, we're back now with Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne's pretzels and author of Twist of Faith.

Gregory Hansell
Hi Anne, this is Greg.

Anne Beiler
Hey Greg, how are you?

Gregory Hansell
I'm great thank you. One of the things you hear all the time today is people talking about finding themselves and finding their passion but something I read in an interview you gave you said its good to have plans and dreams but don't be surprised if God brings you somewhere else. I thought there was real wisdom in that because I think that sometimes finding your way and finding your passion could mean losing your way at least for a while. What do you think about that?

Anne Beiler
Well you're exactly right. I think I would have to say I lost my way because I certainly did not have the plan. I didn't see the plan. I didn't see it coming and so finding myself I think -- what do you find when you find yourself? More of me? Its kind of for me to find more of me is kind of like a downer. I mean I need more than me so when we did Auntie Anne's, I found something bigger than me. If you're just going to end up with just me, that's really not a whole lot so I tell people that if what you're doing isn't bigger than you are, then its probably not worth doing.

Gregory Hansell
That's good.

Anne Beiler
So I think that its really important to find a bigger purpose than yourself and I think its not as easy to do as it may sound because when you find something bigger than yourself very often its a selfless lifestyle. In business it can actually be a selfless lifestyle. At Auntie Anne's it really wasn't -- I always told people its not about me. Its about the people here. My goal was to serve my people. So you have to find something bigger than yourself because that will take your eye off of yourself and think about others.

Gregory Hansell
Yes. I love that actually. I mean we wouldn't have a time in a full hour of this show for me to talk about how I lost my way to find my way.

Anne Beiler
Yes, that sounds like a great book title. Start writing it.

Gregory Hansell
Okay, I'm on it. But it did bring me to the family business I'm in now with my parents you've been speaking with and of course family is a big part of your success as well. What's your advice for working with family? I know you say toward the end of your book you've had some trials and tribulations but you all hang out together. You all laugh together and what more do you need to say to that?

Anne Beiler
Yes, I think advice for working with family, its harder to fire a family member than it is to fire somebody from California that you don't know. I think the advice for families working together for me hindsight is always crystal clear I would say that its really important to do personality profiles. As family members, we take each other for granted like oh I'm just me and you're just you and you've always done that and I've always done this. We sort of sort of do things. I believe that to really be effective in the business world as a family its really important for each family member to know what their strengths and what their weaknesses are and then as a family come together and be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses rather than to be threatened or disgruntled or just mad or okay that's just John, he's always been that way. No, I think if you're going to be successful in a family business, it means that all of us have to grow to the next level so how do we do that? And respect each other's gifts and talents and be very open about the issues between you. Meet regularly and talk for real stuff. You can't do it successfully and pretend everything is okay. It's just not possible.

Gregory Hansell
Yes, I've always thought that one of the advantages sometimes a disadvantage but usually its an advantage of the family business is that people can speak real. Not in every business can someone actually say what they really think or what's going on behind the scenes. With your family members you can say hey this is what's really happening.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely. There are some real advantages, yes.

Gregory Hansell
Yes. Well I know that you have a philosophy, speaking of growth which is give until it feels good, which I think is great. What does that mean to you and how do people do it?

Anne Beiler
Oh my. These questions that you're asking me are loaded. You can write a book on each of them. Giving to me means if you give until it hurts then that's probably not enough. That's what most people do. But I think if you give until it feels good, I think it kind of means you're sort of addicted to giving and there's so much joy in giving that for us it became a lifestyle and it became not an obsession but if you continue to give, I've always said people that give are never selfish. You cannot become selfish if you keep giving so give until it feels good I think it just means you never stop because the needs around you are always there and you just can't turn your face the other way and look the other way and say oh its not there. So giving became part of our life in such a way that it gave us such great joy. And then there's always the question about how much should you give? We just simply started out giving one-tenth of our gross sales just to make sure that we're doing it -- people say should I give a tenth? Its up to you. But for us we wanted to give plenty and I think giving is a little bit like if you're going to give a little bit, like be a little stingy, well then it'll come back to you that way. If you're going to be stingy, your return will be stingy, but its not to give to get and to keep but its really our motto became you give to get to give again. Its just a continual cycle and you don't wait to give until you have a lot. People say oh when I win the lottery I'm going to give my uncle a million dollars. No, no. If you make a hundred bucks, give some of that away. So you start with a little bit and you just grow that. It's a very exciting way to live and there's really kind of an adrenaline rush that goes along with giving. Someone said the medical world has actually done testing and they've discovered that people that give the adrenaline rush that you have giving is similar to a high that a drug addict gets. Can you believe that?

Gregory Hansell
No, actually we can. Our whole enterprise is built around this idea that its good to be good and so that's something we've talked about in other shows and I'm glad that you brought that up.

Anne Beiler
Its very good. It's a great way to live.

Gregory Hansell
That's true. What's your advice for someone who says they want to give back but they feel they don't have much to give?

Anne Beiler
Well I'd say give out of what you have. I don't believe that God asks us to give what we don't have. So for example, if you have an old bike tucked in your garage that you've never used in 20 years, well maybe its still workable, still usable. Give something. Start with what you have. When you begin to give, there's something that happens inside of you. You find things and ways to give that you never experienced but you have to start with something. If you say you have nothing, then you need to take a trip to Africa and understand what that means. Nothing in Africa is true. Nothing in America is probably not true. We all have something that we can give. I really believe that.

Gregory Hansell
I think that's true. I think that's right. I think we all do have something we can give.

Anne Beiler
You have to start somewhere.

Gregory Hansell
Yes, I think that's right. We have to start somewhere. It reminds me of the story in the book, which I don't want to actually give away to the readers about the VCs and how you didn't take some capital because they wanted to sort of downplay the giving element of your business. But it brings up to me the topic of what do you think about the importance of staying true to yourself both in life and in business?

Anne Beiler
Well I think its really true. You must stay true to your purpose and our purpose was to give. Your purpose first of all has to be clear. What is your purpose as a company? Then if its clear to you, then you need to make sure that your employees understand what your purpose is so that no one ever wonders why are we in business. What's the point here? When you become successful in business, it's easy, I can tell you, its easy to listen to the outside voices that will say to you ah, you shouldn't give this much or why are you giving so much away or whatever. Its easy to listen to that but if you are convinced that your purpose is God given and God driven, in the midst of great success there are times you have to fight to keep it but to keep that purpose alive and well and going in the right direction. I can tell you, if you know what your purpose is, nothing or no one can take that away from you. You have to fight sometimes to stay true to it, like I did a number of times. But at the end of the day, my employees were always supportive. My management team was supportive. But it was my vision. It was my purpose. It wasn't everybody elses. It was my responsibility to make sure that everybody knew clearly what our purpose was at Auntie Anne's so that way they all had a goal to work toward. You have to keep it in front of people.

Gregory Hansell
Well speaking of vision, one question I bring up every week and I wanted to make sure I had ample time for you to talk about this is how they think their work helps to make it a better world. When I speak to you about your work, I guess I mean everything, for what you've done with Auntie Anne's, even though you've moved on, to Convoy of Hope and Free Indeed. What's your vision for how you'd like to see your life's work and your life making a difference?

Anne Beiler
Well you can't change the whole world. There's nobody ever been able to change the whole world. I think its easy for us to sit back and say well I'm just one person. We can kind of get whinny and mopey and discouraged. What can one person do? Well one person can do a lot. I just feel like if we stay focused on what we can do instead of looking at what we cannot do, that's where the difference is. My simple vision right now is just simply Auntie Anne's, Convoy of Hope, Free Indeed Conferences, wherever I speak, I simply want to give people hope. I want people to feel hopeful because we're living in a world that if you listen to the news all day long, by the end of the day you will go to bed depressed. So you have to figure out where you can be refueled and refilled. You cannot stay on the negative mode, stay on the negative track and make a difference. You have to listen to things. Listen to people that will build you up, so that's what gives you hope. So my whole purpose is through the company and the things that I've done, its very simple. Its to make this world a better place. Make it better than it was before I got here. I mean I can't do a lot but I can do it every day and whatever I do I want to give hope. I want to give hope to the person at the grocery store, the banker, the person next door to me because there are so many people that feel hopeless and trapped but I just want to say that life is not over until its over and there's something for all to do. I simply want to give people hope.

Raymond Hansell
Well that's an amazing story that you've shared with us today. I'm reminded over the past six months we've had a journey with people like Mother Theresa and Me, basically how a personal relationship with Mother Theresa talked about what difference one person can make. Recently we had another book author who did a special on PBS called Mr. Rogers and Me and talked about what a difference he made when he spoke to his audience about like you just the way you are and really what an impact he had on children and families. I think you're doing exactly that. We really want to encourage our listeners to look at that same thing. David Brooks just was on Charlie Rose the other night and he had the quote somebody that talked about if your purpose is just something that can be done in your lifetime, maybe its not big enough. You really need to start something that's bigger than you are even in your lifetime and that's what I think you've started here in this Twist of Faith, Anne. My commendations for you. For our listeners there's some great take aways here. Out of pain, find your purpose because just when you think you're in the fire then its right from that other side of that you'll find your purpose so I hope many of you have taken a lot away from this. You can find out more about Annie Beiler's life and work by going to AuntieAnneBeiler.com. Anne, we'd like to thank you for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio. We really appreciate it.

Anne Beiler
Absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity. Have a great day.

All
Thank you Anne.

Anne Beiler
Excellent.

Raymond Hansell
And thank you again. For our listeners please join us next week on BetterWorldians Radio for a special commemorative Memorial Day episode. We have an excellent line-up of guests in the coming weeks and if you know an unsung BetterWorldian who you think would make a great guest on our show, please send us an email at Radio@BetterWorldians.com. Once again, we'd like to thank everyone today for listening. You can join the BetterWorldian community at BetterWorldians.com. Until next time everybody, please be a BetterWorldian. (Music)