$5 ---> $10M by the grace of God alone
Jordan Raynor sits down with Mignon Francois, Founder of The Cupcake Collection, to talk about their quest for the best donut on earth, the benefits of not raising capital, and how to earn the right to be mentored by the world’s most masterful people.
[0:00:05.3] JR: Hey everyone, welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work, for the glory of God and the good of others. Every week, I’m bringing you a conversation that I host with a Christian who is pursuing world-class mastery of their craft and their careers. We’re talking about guest’s path to mastery, we’re talking about their daily habits and routines and how their faith impacts the work that they do.
Today, I am thrilled to share this conversation I recently have with my friend, Mignon Francois. She's the Founder of The Cupcake Collection, which Mignon grew from $5, literally the last $5 she had to more than 10 million dollars in sales. Mignon has received the family business of the year award from Black Enterprise Magazine. Perhaps most impressive, The Cupcake Collection in Nashville, one of the food capitals in the United States, The Cupcake Collection is the number one rated restaurant out of more than 2,400 restaurants on TripAdvisor.
Mignon was gracious enough with her time to sit down with me. We talked about our shared quest for the best donut on earth, some great answers for donut lovers out there. We talked about the benefits, both spiritually and practically of not raising capital for your business and we talked about how to earn the right to be mentored by the world's most masterful people. I think you're going to love this episode.
Please enjoy my conversation with Mignon Francois.
[0:01:50.2] JR: Hey, Mignon. Thank you so much for joining me.
[0:01:52.4] MF: Thanks for having me.
[0:01:54.0] JR: I love that as we get started, I could literally hear the mixer in the background there at The Cupcake Collection. Quick context for the audience, we met at BAM323 at – which you articulate so well. You were the emcee for this great conference at Lipscomb University, this business and mission conference. You were also very generous to donate a ton of cupcakes. I'm backstage, you're about to introduce me to go on to give my keynote and I shove three sweet potato cupcakes down before I was on stage. I think it was one of the best things I've ever tasted.
[0:02:27.8] MF: Oh, thank you.
[0:02:28.7] JR: When I heard of it, I was like, “A sweet potato cupcake. This doesn't make sense.” Can you describe this thing for our audience?
[0:02:34.2] MF: It is everything that – it’s a grown-up cupcake. That’s what it is. It's a grown-up cupcake. It's what every cupcake wants to be when it grows up. That's what it is.
[0:02:44.8] JR: It really is. It really is. You got the cream cheese icing. Oh, it’s up on the chart.
[0:02:49.9] MF: It’s not complete, but it is sweet enough. It has fiber in it, so you don't have to feel bad about it.
[0:02:56.0] JR: There you go.
[0:02:56.6] MF: It’s going to give you that sugar bits. It doesn't put you in the mind of what people would think when they think sweet potatoes. We're hiding our vegetables in our cake.
[0:03:07.5] JR: That's exactly it. It's what I do with my kids, but you're doing it with adults. Hey, I think maybe one of the best keynotes of my career. Big endorsement for the sweet potato cupcake that gave me the energy. Staying on top of the topic of sugar for a minute, my team read in your bio that you pride yourself on traveling the world to find the best donuts?
[0:03:28.4] MF: Yes.
[0:03:29.2] JR: A passion you and I share. I have to ask, what's at the top of your list?
[0:03:34.5] MF: Oh, my gosh. My son thinks that the best donuts actually exists right here in Nashville. There’s a little mom-and-pop shop that he loves to go to in this little city called Hermitage here in Nashville and it's called Donut Palace. He swears by them, he thinks that it's the best. However, I have been more places than he has been.
[0:04:01.4] JR: You're more seasoned. You’re more seasoned.
[0:04:03.2] MF: Yes. I love Donut Palace, right? I actually think my favorite donut right now is in New Orleans, a place called Chris's.
[0:04:15.1] JR: Chris's.
[0:04:15.8] MF: Chris's Donuts. It's in New Orleans. It's actually on the street where I grew up on Bullard Avenue in New Orleans. Now there are a lot of good cupcake places in New Orleans. Right now, to me Chris's is the best. Chris’s melt in your mouth. Now I will get in the car and drive to Memphis for donuts, get some donuts in Memphis. It's right at the Tennessee-Arkansas line. It's open 24 hours a day.
[0:04:47.8] JR: God bless America. What a country. You can get donuts any time of the day.
[0:04:50.8] MF: Yes. That's a pretty incredible donut too. I'm right now on the fence between Chris's Donuts in New Orleans and Gibson’s Donuts in Memphis.
[0:05:01.4] JR: All right. I'm going to add those to my list. Like your son, my favorite and I've traveled a lot. My favorite is still Hometown Hero. It's this little hole-in-the-wall place called Hole In One Donuts in Tampa, followed closely by Fire Cake in Chicago. Have you been to Fire Cake?
[0:05:15.8] MF: I just left Chicago yesterday.
[0:05:18.5] JR: No.
[0:05:19.0] MF: Oh, no! I didn’t have a donut, because I was trying to be good. I had, it was either a cupcake, or a donut. I went to a cupcake shop.
[0:05:32.5] JR: Oh, good for you. The Fire Cake, next time you're in Chicago, Fire Cake Downtown, the sour cream donut is off the charts.
[0:05:39.2] MF: I am so mad. I have to go back some time on that.
[0:05:41.7] JR: You got to go. All right, so Mignon, everybody loves a great founding story of a successful business. Yours is one of my favorites. Can you tell us how you got this business started?
[0:05:51.3] MF: Yeah. I’d much rather talk about donuts.
[0:05:54.6] JR: Me too. I can talk about donuts for 35 more minutes. Yeah.
[0:05:57.9] MF: Yeah. I started this business out of debt, brokenness and desperation. I was looking for a way to make the ends meet, as a way to help. That was the beginnings of how I started and the reason why. I just needed field trip money and to help the light stay on. Our lights were off more regularly than they were on. We had less water running through our faucets than running out of gallons that we would buy from the store, because that was – we hadn't figured out how to be good stewards over what it was that we did have.
It's always go, “God. Give me something that I can do that can belong to me, so that I can help make the ends meet in my household.” God said, “Make cupcakes.” For me at that moment, people always said, “Well, I've never heard God, right? I don't know how to hear God speak.” God exists right in our gut and gives us that feeling of, “You know what? I think I'm going to do this.” Or sometimes it could be that you flipped on the radio station and that idea that you heard resonated so much in your soul that it attached to something you were already thinking. That's how God makes itself tangible, so that we can have an experience with him. That's how I made a cupcake.
[0:07:21.3] JR: All right, so you got five bucks to your name.
[0:07:23.5] MF: To my name.
[0:07:24.8] JR: You invested in making these cupcakes. Tell us the story from there.
[0:07:28.0] MF: My neighbor knocked on the door and said, “What are you doing in the dark?” I said, “I'm meditating. Duh!” When actually, I didn't have any electricity. We were running our house on a generator, because that's what we could do. We’d make a little money and buy gas for the generator to run lights when our children got home, so that they would feel normalcy. She didn't want to keep me from my meditation but said, “Hey, I want to give this gift of cupcakes to all of my clients for the season.” That was going to be 600 cupcakes stored.
I'm like, “God.” I said, “Okay.” Like a deer caught in the headlights, “I don't know how I'm going to do this, because I know all I have is $5.” She said, “Whenever you get some, just give them to me and I'll pay you as you go, because I couldn't give them all out at the same time anyway.” I said, “Okay.” Closed the door behind her and started having a come-to-Jesus moment saying, “God, really? You give me this opportunity when I have no money to take it.” God said, “But I feed birds and you look like me.” I heard God say that the lilies of the field and all of their grandeur will be gone tomorrow. How much more will I give you, who knows who being evil, knows how to give good gifts to their children. I said that.
I put on my shoes. I walked to the store, which is about five blocks away, because I didn't even have a car anymore. That had been repossessed. Our house was up for foreclosure sale by the time that we actually opened the business. On the day we opened it, we knew that we were going to lose our house a month later. I believed that if God was who he said he is, then he better do what he says he can do. I took the test. He says, “Try me and see. If you don't do what I say,” I won't pour out the windows of heaven with one blessing that there will not be room to receive. Here we are 11 years later, still receiving from that one blessing. That was the initial investment into the business, that $5.
[0:09:33.9] JR: 5 bucks and a whole lot of trust. A whole lot of trusting God to provide, which is worth a heck of a lot more than 5 bucks. One of the things – I'm curious, when was the moment where you realize, “All right, this thing is no longer just about meeting my needs?” Like, “I'm really building something here. I'm building wealth for myself. I'm building wealth for others, for the community. What was that moment for you?”
[0:09:59.0] MF: I don't know how long it took for me to recognize that, but from the beginning, people were telling me that they had never had anything like it before. I always knew that it was God, not me. When I started seeing – I think it was when I began to hire people to work on my team and they were bringing their dreams and their plans and they were laying them on the line here to help me get my thing done, so that in exchange they could get theirs done, I started realizing, “Oh, my gosh. We have work that we're doing.”
When we got a scholarship in our name at Tennessee State University, we placed that scholarship I was like, “Wait a minute. Our company is not just making sure that we eat. We're walking kids across the stage now.” I'm still getting those aha moments, just coming back from Chicago. I think it's so important that we travel and get inspiration from wherever we can. I'm still getting those little bits of, “Mignon, this is how you can do it better. This is why you have to do it better.” Because I had a talk with my team this morning. You know what, Jordan? We can be the best in the world. If nobody knows it, what does that profit anybody? People say, “Oh, my grandmother is the best at this.” Maybe your grandmother 90 years, you know what I mean?
[0:11:23.4] JR: Exactly right.
[0:11:24.0] MF: She’s not in this room, so why are we talking about grandma right now? You know what I mean? It’s like we have a responsibility to do our due diligence, to make our name great, to put that tack on the end of it that says, “I'm a Christian and I do something very well.” It's because that I'm showing up as a Christian in this secular world. I love your book for this. It gives me such a place to be able to plant that in this secular world, doing this secular thing.
[0:11:57.6] JR: Quote unquote.
[0:11:58.6] MF: Yeah, quote unquote, that I can be a Christian, because I am working in the purpose that God thought of when he thought of me. The more I do that, he said, “I want you to give this to the world, Mignon. I want you to bring them joy.” You don't know that being joyful and having a joyful heart is the necessary thing that I'm giving you. I'm just doing it through a cupcake, through something tangible like a cupcake.
[0:12:28.9] JR: No, I love it. You're serving your community well and loving your neighbors as yourself well by just bringing great products in the world. Yeah, I was thinking about your story. I think a lot of founders buy the lie that they've got to raise capital, or they've got to raise debt in order to get a business off the ground. I'm curious, you didn't do that. You started with 5 bucks, you've turned it into a 10 million dollar business. What negative effects do you think the capital would have had on your business if in year one, you decided to raise a couple million bucks?
[0:12:57.3] MF: I wouldn't be here today. If I had owed anyone something, I wouldn't be here today, because the –
[0:13:04.6] JR: Why is that?
[0:13:05.3] MF: - the decisions I was able to make when I didn't have anybody else to answer to, require that I depend solely on God. It required that I get on my knees to say, “God, I don't have enough. I need you to come through.” For me to be able to listen to God and do those crazy things, those things that look like craziness, God will say, “Okay, when you get up off your knees and you should go outside and you should just stand right here in the middle of the sidewalk, there's a lady that's coming down to you. See her?” “Yeah, God. I see her.” “I need you to walk up to her and start talking to her.” Then that turns into somebody knocking back on my door and says, “I'll buy 60 of them,” right?
Those are the kinds of things that we do in co-collaboration with God, that I wouldn't have been able to do if I were a banker and was saying, “Mignon, I need for you to sell all of these equipment that I purchased for you, or whatever.” I've been able to make some bold, audacious moves because of God. I was able to give away cupcakes to everybody that flew into Nashville on December 15th, because I wanted to do something that I would not have been able to do, as I was depending on someone else to tell me, “Well, you have my money and you're going to do what I say.” I'm working only on God's money and God’ plan and what he says and I would not be here if I had had done it any other way.
The thing is I cried so much, because I didn't have money from other people. I tried so much, because I didn't have the credit that I needed to be able to walk into certain situations. The fact is that God was carrying me all along. He knew the end from the beginning and he knew that I would be able to go back and say, “Thank you God for being smarter than me and putting me in a predicament and knowing that you could trust me to trust you.”
[0:14:56.1] JR: It's put you in a position to where God is the only one who could possibly get the glory for The Cupcake Collection.
[0:15:02.5] MF: Yes.
[0:15:03.3] JR: You cannot take credit for that. I mean, you talk about this a lot. You started this business with absolute zero experience, not only as a baker, but as an entrepreneur. You've talked about, you had no idea what you were doing. One question I have for you is how did you learn? Where did you go? How did you learn how to build this venture?
[0:15:20.1] MF: I listened to everything. I was driving on a street the other day listening to a podcast and I said, “Man, this generation has so much available to them.” They have radio available to them however they want it, whenever they want it on demand, right? I listen to radio a lot. I read every magazine. I read articles and journals. I read books. They say that you can get the equivalent of a college degree in your car in your commute in a year. Within two years, you can get the equivalent. It's because I spent my time listening to audio books, I read as much as I can soak in, and even if that means I can only skim through the first parts of chapters through an entire book to get that information. Sometimes it takes me two years to read a book, because I'm doing the concepts that I’m reading about.
[0:16:15.2] JR: Yeah. You’re actually practicing it, right?
[0:16:17.3] MF: Yeah. Everything I could go to and anything I could afford, or anything that was free, anybody that wanted to take me along, I took them up on it. I got my degree from the school of hard knocks. Then I had a secret sauce that I want to share with you too.
[0:16:33.7] JR: Yeah, please. Yeah.
[0:16:34.8] MF: My dream for Nashville is that Nashville will be the center for entrepreneurship, where entrepreneurs will come to learn how to be entrepreneurs. I got accepted into this little program that the entrepreneur center was doing here, called Catalyst. You had to have made a certain amount of money by the time that you could be accepted. I had just came through making $250,000 in sales by the time I found this program.
I got recommended to be in it and they began to teach me all the words that I didn't know, like what is [inaudible 0:17:09.7] and why are you saying that, like it’s another language. They taught me about pricing. They taught me everything that I needed to know about business. They had all kinds of programs and there were mentors. There were mentors who were willing to volunteer their time and answer whatever questions that I had. That would be one key that I want people to do. Go find the entrepreneur center in your area. If you don't have one, connect yourself to one that's close by like the entrepreneur center here in Nashville.
[0:17:41.3] JR: You hit on something that I talk about in my newest book, Master of One. You talked about all the content that's out there, books, free content, podcasts, those are great whenever you want to learn how to master something. There's something different and more valuable about direct one-to-one personal mentorship. I call it, the difference is indirect apprenticeship is reading a book, reading a magazine, listening to a podcast. A direct apprenticeship where you are personally getting to know the mentor and more importantly, they are personally getting to know you and your specific weaknesses and can coach you through that, that is so much more valuable. Would you would you agree with that as somebody who's valued them both?
[0:18:20.0] MF: Oh, yeah. Because when I would go to the entrepreneur center, I would just make an appointment with one of the mentors. These were the best. They were the best in the industry of whatever it was that I needed to ask. They would be enamored with the fact that I didn't know what I was doing and as far as I had come and they would want to come back and check on me. Because see, what is required of us? I think that we think that we're supposed to just allow this stuff to just fall in our laps because God has given us this idea and it's just supposed to be –
[0:18:53.9] JR: Preach, preach, preach.
[0:18:56.3] MF: God is saying, “No, you put in some work and then I'll put in something.” The more that people saw me grinding and literally digging my way out of my own situation, I wasn't complaining about it, I wasn't saying, “Oh, poor me.” I wasn't telling anybody about it. I was just saying, “This is how I'm going to do it.” They would just be so much more willing to invest time and talent into what I was doing, because I was showing I already had done the work.
[0:19:28.1] JR: I talked about this in Called to Create. It's this tension – We as Christians are called to both, trust in the Lord to provide and hustle and work hard, Colossians 3:23. Work heartily as under the Lord. It's not either/or, it is both/and working in marriage together and I think that's how God with his greater love.
By the way, you’re a great example of this, hard work is winsome and attractive to others. Hard work is what allows those mentors to say, “You know what? I'm going to pour even more in Mignon, because I know she's going to do something with it,” right?
[0:19:59.5] MF: Yes. Because everybody has an idea. It's just, what are you going to do when you get the idea? Everybody has a great idea. The difference between me and the next person is what did you decide to do with it? As a mentor now, so now I'm a mentor and I give my time back to the same entrepreneur center, as well as the Women's Business Center as a mentor as well. Then to people who would just come up to me and walk up to me, because I promised God, “You make me successful, I'll tell anybody who will listen about what they can do if they just believe.” You can't just believe, because faith without work –
[0:20:39.2] JR: Amen.
[0:20:40.3] MF: - is nothing, right? It just really boils my blood when people tell me, “Oh, I had this idea,” and they're crying. They're passionate. “I really want to open this business. Scott gave me this business to open. I really want to do it.” Then my question is, “What do you have? What have you done?” “Oh, I'm just thinking about it.” “Well, come back and talk to me when you've tested it and you failed, when you need another prototype and you need somebody to help you with the second iteration, because you already know that this material and that material won't work. Come back to me when you have served one shower, or one birthday party, or one dinner party because you want to be a party planner. Come back when you have something to show that I invested in myself before you ask me to also invest.”
[0:21:43.2] JR: Yeah. It's almost earning the right to gain access to mentors, right? I mean, mentors by their very nature are busy people, right? They got a lot going on. You and I have a lot going on in our lives. Yeah, I'm happy to help people, especially people who showed that they put in the work and are not already taking steps in faith.
You mentioned mentorship. I read somewhere that this is – I mean, you're really passionate about this. It's one of your favorite responsibilities, mentoring your team. I'm a big believer that this is an essential skill for any entrepreneur. I'm curious to learn a little bit about how practically you do this. What practically do you do to mentor your team at The Cupcake Collection?
[0:22:17.5] MF: Well, one of the things that we're doing is I read book first and then I say, “This is what we're going to read.”
[0:22:24.3] JR: Oh, I like that.
[0:22:25.7] MF: One of the things that I'm reading through right now is happy to be your book. It’s Called to Create. We’re delving into the idea of this being a creation week, instead of just a workweek. The other way besides just reading books and finding workshops for them, anything that they want to do if I can invest in it and afford it for them, I'm willing to do it if it's going to grow us as a team.
We spend personal time one-on-one together. More than that also, I hop online when I get an idea and I'll share it to the world by just turning an iPhone to my face and saying, “Let me tell you something about God. Or let me tell you something about an egg. Or let me tell you something about a pencil.” Anything that I can do to encourage someone to start where they are, because a lot of people think, “Oh, I got to have this. I got to have a degree. I have to have enough money. I have to have knowledge. I have to have equipment. You don't have any of that stuff to start.” All you have to do is start and then God will show up for you. Those are ways in which that I mentor my team.
[0:23:30.6] JR: I love it. Yu mentioned one-on-one meetings. I think there's an art to doing these really well with your direct reports. I'm really curious what your one-on-one meetings with your team look like.
[0:23:39.5] MF: Well, what we're trying to do right now is get outside and walk, because I need exercise.
[0:23:44.2] JR: I love that.
[0:23:46.6] MF: I really want to walk with Mignon time, and so we can walk and talk about what it is that you're going through. They just come into my office. It belongs to us. The time belongs to just me and that one person and we spend time again. Now we're going to get interrupted a 100 different ways a 100 different times. Knowing that that time belongs to you, but we're working on a walk with Mignon time. That is so important to me.
[0:24:11.5] JR: I love that.
[0:24:14.0] MF: I can have my exercise and you can get what you need, then we both are healthy at the end of it.
[0:24:19.5] JR: There's nobody interrupting you. When I was running Threshold360 as CEO day-to-day, I would ask my team members my direct reports to put walk and talks on my calendar. Yeah. I forgot that I did this. It’s a really effective way to do it. For those of you listening who know I'm a huge West Wing fan. Yes, I get that from the West Wing, the famous walk and talk in the TV show. Do you do you regularly meet with your whole team, Mignon? If so, what does that look like?
[0:24:45.4] MF: Yeah. We meet together – I have a one-on-one meeting with each one of my direct reports every week. Then we meet as a team across cities over the phone, whoever is in the same city together is in the same room and then we meet together over a conference call.
[0:25:03.3] JR: Okay. What's the agenda for that team meeting?
[0:25:05.4] MF: Oh, we're talking – I'm following my team. I'm not leading them. They're leading me. They're telling me what they've come up with, they're telling me what my calendar looks like, they're telling me all of the interviews that I have, they're also telling me what flavors they've come up with, what holidays are new, what they've learned about our customers. They are telling me about sales strategies. They're asking me for new product lines and introductions. We're also talking about new locations and that sort of thing. The stuff that comes from me are the things that they cannot do. I tell them we're expanding and they're going to tell me how we're going to do that.
[0:25:44.1] JR: Trust the team.
[0:25:45.2] MF: Yeah, that's the way that we work.
[0:25:47.3] JR: How many employees you guys have now?
[0:25:49.2] MF: I guess we have – this is so hard, because there's so many people who just work for us who don't get money too. They just love us, so they want to be around and they help. We have about 20 members on our team total, when you think about our contractors as well. About 13 of us that are on staff.
I never want my team to get really, really large, because I've always felt like this, Jesus changed the world with 13 people himself and 12 other disciples. Then he had to go out and make other disciples of them. That's our philosophy, making cupcakes besides.
[0:26:27.9] JR: What's the biggest lesson you've learned about hiring and how to hire well?
[0:26:31.5] MF: Oh, my gosh. The best thing that I know about hiring is that to include my team in the process. That it shouldn't just be a one person decision. That panel interviews are better for us. Where we allow the person who we're considering to come and spend time with the team, because you spend more time with these people than you spend with your own families, that you should actually like them. If you find that you like them as a group, you'll like to work together. When you like where you work, you're more productive.
[0:27:04.5] JR: I will a 100% co-sign that advice. Yeah. In the past, I have often done interviews myself and then brought a finalist candidate, or two to the whole team and just get used to what it would be like to work together, really try to talk to a particular problem and see whether or not they’re a culture fit. Because if you're not going to enjoy this person, that's a recipe for disaster,
[0:27:27.7] MF: Exactly.
[0:27:29.7] JR: Mignon, you're an incredibly productive person. What does your day look like from the minute you wake up to the moment you go to bed?
[0:27:35.3] MF: Chaos.
[0:27:37.2] JR: Slightly organized chaos?
[0:27:40.0] MF: Yeah. I may look like I'm flying by the seat of my pants, but I know exactly what I'm doing. In the morning, my morning start at 5:00 in the morning with prayers. Right now, I'm joining a prayer call, this gospel group called Virtue Does. It's three sisters and they get up at 5:15 on the East Coast. I mean, on 6:15 on East Coast, so I join it at 5:15 and listen to it, or watch it on Instagram for 15 minutes every morning. God has called me into this year to tithe my time, not just my money. That's two hours and 40 minutes a day that belong to the Lord.
We’re reading a book that has something – some God center around it to teach me. I also have a bible study time, where I'm actually reading the word of God, because we want to go and do a grocery list at the store and we forgot what we wrote down 15 minutes ago, but we expect to remember God's word and we don't spend any time with it for six months. I'm spending a little bit of time in the word of God every day.
Then I'm also spending a little bit of time every day watching some other sermon, or pastor whose leadership that I believe in. It could be a televised fast and get some sermon in the day. I visit The Cupcake Collection and I still work in production whenever I want to. Like today, I worked in production today with the team. I made cake with the team today. Then I went around mentoring them. I've spent time in every office today, or in every department of the store mentoring the team and walking back and seeing things that I like, or don't like and say, “Come on. Let's talk about it.”
We have the sandwich method that we do, where we tell you how great you are, sandwich that and between, how great you are in the end with something really that I don't like about what you’re doing. We sandwich that between two really good things. I spent a lot of time doing that today. Then the rest of the time that I have if I catch any of those, we have decided not to just let it through my free time, but to actually schedule this time out that I'm working on my book. I'm working on how you do what I did with no money, no knowledge, no experience. This is the story of The Cupcake Collection.
[0:30:00.6] JR: Mignon, are there any habits that you've been doing since you started this business that you swear by, that really make you super productive?
[0:30:10.1] MF: Yeah. I don't know how I can really explain it, but I follow my first mind. My daughter has this thing, she says the Holy Spirit's first name is something, because people always say, “Something told me.” She said the Holy Spirit's first name is something. There's this feeling that you get on the inside of you. It happens right up under your breastbone. It's an irking feeling that says, “Man, it really beats you up when you knew that it told you to do something.”
It also really tries to nag at you in order to get you towards doing something. What I've learned is that that's where the Holy Spirit lives. That's how you hear God. In everything that I do, I can solve my first mind, because you never ever say, “Man, I shouldn't have followed my first mind.” You always say, “I should have followed my first mind,” and I've learned that that's where my first mind exists.
Even if it means driving down the street, we're going to go this way, we're going to turn left, but God, that's not the way we're supposed to turn. I'm going to turn left anyway. The more I've exercised that habit, the stronger it has become, where it says, “You know what? Grab that book.” I’m like, “I don’t even need that book today.” “Just grab the book and take it with you.” I have been very, very intentional, Jordan, about listening to my first mind on everything.
[0:31:44.0] JR: I just got done – we just published my new book, Master of One. In the book, I talk about when we achieve mastery of a craft, whatever that craft, is the Lord often grants us power, right? Not to be hoarded for ourselves, but really to pour out sacrificially in service of others. When you started this business, your lights were off. By the world standards, you had very little power, I mean, literally. Oh, in terms of electricity! All those social – there’s so many layers to this. Today, you have tons of power and influence. How have you thought about stewarding that power well?
[0:32:21.9] MF: Yeah. Man that is such a good question and it's something that I do think about a lot, that people want to hear what I have to say now. That I am responsible for the – Jordan, I don't believe there's not anything that I cannot do. I now spend my time telling other broken people, that's where I do it Jordan. I do it in telling others. You don't have to be sad. You don't have told wallow in this brokenness. This brokenness is where God is strong. The weaker you are, God says, “I am stronger.”
I love to use the example of an egg. An egg will rot in all of its wholeness, in all of its beauty, the perfectly shaped like an egg, it will rot. It's never ever broken. You have to break an egg and release its potential in order for it to become whatever it was intended to be. The egg can rot if it never gets broken.
I go around showing other people what they have in their hand. It's like, what do you want to be when you actually grow up? There's a lesson in this limbo that you're in. There is a lesson at what you're going through. Don't spend so much time worrying about the fact that you're in it. What is the lesson that God is sending you to learn in the fact that you're in it? That you can then pour out on someone else, because it's from the overflow that we see others, we're serving from our saucer. God has never said that our cup would not be full. When we pour out, it just gets full back again from His grace, His favor and His mercy and my mercies, I mean, every morning, he give that to us brand-new every single morning. We're busy being selfish and holding on to what it is that we have, but it's from the overflow that we serve other people.
[0:34:31.7] JR: Amen.
[0:34:32.3] MF: That's what I want to do. I want to just be going and picking other people up and saying, “Don't you know who you are? Don't you know what you have? Don't you know whose that you are? Don't you know what God calls you is what matters?”
[0:34:46.0] JR: We talked a lot about how your faith influences your leadership of the venture personally. I'm curious, what would be different about a cupcake shop, like The Cupcake Collection itself, the products, how your employees treat people, if you weren't a follower of Christ?
[0:35:02.4] MF: Oh, man. Again, I just don't think that we’d still be here. We came into an industry that was popping up on every single corner, where everybody who thought, “Well, I do this for my kids at home. I'm the one who brings them for the room. I mean, how hard could it be,” right? We've seen a lot of those places closed and we're still standing. It's only by God's grace that we do it, because we are in tune to what our customers’ names are. We pray for them before they even come in.
We have a team huddle in the morning. Our team huddle is all prayer. It has nothing to do, or very little to do with what we're facing as a team, or as a company for work today, as much as it has to do with where we are in the visually. How are you doing? Are you okay? You get to cry at The Cupcake Collection. When you get to cry at The Cupcake Collection and we believe it's just like a baby crying out to their mother, then your needs can be met.
When you come to a place and your needs are met, from that place you serve other people, that's the stuff that's making us win. That's what people taste when they come into the door. They taste a bunch of people whose needs are being met by the one who can meet their needs. That they are presented – God says, “Hope in me. Place your hope in me.” We've been so busy putting our hope in others. “I hope he calls me back. I hope that job interview calls today. I hope I get a chance to see.” You know what I mean? God said, “Put your hope in me and then your plans will be successful.”
[0:36:46.7] JR: I love it. It’s one of my favorite things about your story. I mean, I think a non-Christian would look at your story as a very inspiring, pull yourself up by the bootstraps story. No doubt, there's some element of that to your story, right? Your hustle contributed to your success. I love your humility and recognizing that all of this is grace, all of this is a gift of God. I just love you for that my sister. I love it so much.
Hey, so Mignon, three questions I ask every guest to wrap up the interview. First, so you read a lot. Very interested to hear your response to this, which books do you recommend or give the most to other people?
[0:37:27.4] MF: The book I give the most to other people is The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. That's by Jack Canfield. He is the creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He has this this party that he talks about in the book that act as if party, where everybody came to the party as who they would be in five years.
[0:37:53.9] JR: I love that.
[0:37:55.1] MF: Everybody who came to the party was exactly who they said they would be in five years. He came as a New York Times bestselling author.
[0:38:03.8] JR: That's funny. That’s so funny.
[0:38:05.6] MF: That’s a book that I love to give the absolute most to anybody. It took me three years to finish it of active reading, of doing the work that was on the inside of it and applying the principles to my life. That to me it's hands down, the book that I give the most.
[0:38:25.4] JR: Man, that's a good answer. What one person would you most like to hear talk about how their faith influences the work that they do in the world?
[0:38:33.3] MF: This is probably so unconventional in the way that I'm going to say this, but they're nameless. They’re children. They’re children. I would love to see what a child would say about how their faith influences the world. I have this philosophy that if a little child shall lead them, that we're not giving enough credit to little children and what it is that they actually know.
I think that we lose some of that ability as we become more versed in the world and we become more knowledgeable of good and evil, right? That we lose some of that connection, or that purity of what it is to be child-like. Some of my favorite people in the world are my grandchildren. Watching what they create and the things that they say and their understanding of what they're saying to adult problems that they're trying to solve when no one asks them for that, I would love to see, to hear it from the view of a child.
[0:39:50.5] JR: I love that answer. I love that answer. I think kids, we're so condescending to children sometimes. I think kids understand always more than we think they do. Ellison, my five-year-old, I've just been trying to instill this relatively simple concept in her for years, which is, “Hey Ellison, God created and he created you to create new things in the world, to show people what he's like.” She gets that. She can re-articulate that on her own to other people. It’s like, “Oh Ellison, why are you painting a painting?” “I'm painting a painting, because God painted the world,” right? She gets that. I love – I’m not suggesting I have my five-year-old on the show, but that's a great answer. All right, last question, Mignon.
[0:40:28.7] MF: I think your five-year-old should come on the show. The thing about it is because people are receptive to children. A child will come in and people will speak to a child when they won't even speak to an adult. They'll give attention and allow a child to be themselves when they won't allow that to an adult. I just think that there would be an amazing grace that we would learn if we could hear from Ellison.
[0:40:58.9] JR: I love that. No, I love that. Maybe I will. You’re changing my mind. All right, Mignon, you've given so much great advice. Leave us with one single piece of advice that you’d give to somebody who is pursuing mastery of their vocation. Really any vocation, but in particular people out there who are pursuing mastery of entrepreneurship.
[0:41:17.8] MF: I feel like I've given it already. That is speak what you seek, until you see what you've said. That's so important to me, that you don't have to have everything you need to get started to begin, but you do have to be intentional about the words that are coming out of your mouth concerning that thing that got placed on your heart.
The biggest thing that I want people to know in getting started with their idea, or mastering this thing called entrepreneurship is to know that the idea doesn't belong to you anyway. It is not yours. We are arrogant to believe that we can even think of these things on our own, but it is as a big God that drops it to you and says, “This is what I'm calling you to do. This is what I want for you to do in the world.” I could ask anybody, but I'm choosing to ask you.
I love to give it to people in an example like this. If we all received an invitation to an all-white party where everyone has to wear all white to the party, but the planner of the party calls you, Jordan, on the phone and says, “Jordan, the all-white party says you will not be admitted into my party unless you're wearing white. You, I want you to wear hot pink.” You would probably burst into laughter and say, “Why do you want me to wear hot pink at a party? Why am I special? What do you have me doing?” You would be coming with anticipation that something special was going to happen to you, because he told you to wear a hot pink, or that you were going to be special as part of the party.
When you got to the party, everyone would be saying, “Oh, no Jordan. You must go home and change your clothes. You won't get in, unless you have all-white.” You're like, “Oh, no, no, no, no. I am to wear hot pink and wait till you see how hot pink my hot pink is going to be,” right? You would go into that party in all the knowingness that you belonged, that you were being led in and that something special was going to happen to you, because you showed up and you came. You didn't know what was going to happen, but the fact that you showed up and came in hot pink, you would be expected.
That where we should know that these ideas belong to God. We don't have to know how to do them. We don't have to have every piece of the puzzle written out. We just have to show up in all of our hot pinkness and be everything that we can be to the idea, or to the situation that God. has called us and asked us to do. If you could ask anybody, he chose us. Wait in expectation of what he's getting ready to do in your life through this idea.
[0:44:10.6] JR: I love it. Mignon, I just want to commend you for being so bold and sharing your inspiring story, for building such a tremendous business that loves your employees well, that loves your community and your customers well. Thank you for your testimony of humility, that this is not yours, this wasn't your idea, all of this was a gift of grace. I'm such a huge fan of yours.
Hey, the next time you're in Nashville, be sure to visit The Cupcake Collection. Say hi to Mignon and her team. Mignon, thanks for hanging out with me on The Call to Mastery.
[0:44:41.8] MF: Thank you, Jordan.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:44:44.1] JR: Seriously, if you have never had the sweet potato cupcake that we mentioned at the top of the episode, book a trip to Nashville maybe just for that. I don't know. It really is that terrific.
Hey, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode of The Call to Mastery. If you're loving the podcast, please take 30 seconds and go review it on Apple Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Talk to you guys next week.