Kat Cole, force behind billion-dollar Cinnabon brand, shares 3 top business tips

Kat Cole, group president of FOCUS Brands and executive at Cinnabon
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

A used-to-be Hooters waitress who would eventually end up turning Cinnabon into a billion-dollar brand: It sounds like the plot of a made-for-TV movie.

But, believe it or not, it's actually the real-life story of Kat Cole, the 37-year-old business mogul whose creative ideas and marketing ploys helped Cinnabon accelerate into the mega-force it is today.

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In many ways, Cole's story is the perfect embodiment of the American Dream. After leading the thirty-year-old Cinnabon franchise across the billion dollar threshold, she became the Group President of Focus Brands, where she's hoping to make the same miracles happen with all six of the companies under the organization's umbrella.

At the helm of such enormous and successful businesses, Cole is now looking to help other Americans achieve the very same things. She sat down with TODAY to share her three rules of business.

1. Be honest, and be authentic.

"And confident in who you are," she told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager. "Because ultimately it's all that's going to differentiate you in the marketplace."

2. Stay 'incredibly close' to the customer.

"They have all the answers," she told Hager.

3. Do the right thing.

And do it for the right reasons. "Use that to guide who you partner with, what products you launch, whether or not you take funding externally," she concluded.

Kat Cole, group president of FOCUS Brands and executive at Cinnabon
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
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