Few things on earth are better than a good donut. A bad donut, on the other hand, is a waste of calories.

Last week, while in Panama City, I discovered an unexpected gem at Laguna Beach. The name of the place was Thomas Donut & Snack Shop. After a couple of drive bys, I decided to give the place a try. Insert a Gomer Pyle “Shazaam.” The dive was great!

I should have known I was in for a treat when I couldn’t find a place to park on either side of the street. The lines to get up to the donut window were no different.

After purchasing a dozen assorted and talking to several people in line, I couldn’t help but wonder how such a small place had managed to create such demand.

I walked away with a few reminders.

  1. Small is an excuse. Thomas, tiny compared to national donut chains, had every reason to complain. A weak location, small facility, and limited budget could all be seen as roadblocks. However, the Thomas team was passionate about their product and positive about their ability to create a great experience for their customers.
  2. People are more important than products. At the end of the day Thomas is in the people business, just like you are. Sugar helps, but service sells.
  3. People don’t mind waiting. At first, I was shocked that someone would stand in a line of twenty-five people just to get a donut. Then I realized they were not waiting on a donut, rather an experience. People like to be where the buzz is. Is your product and your customer service worth waiting in line for fifteen minutes? For thirty?
  4. Do what you do best. Thomas is great at donuts. Though by the beach, they have resisted the temptation to serve seafood. For most of us, it is easy to become distracted by what everyone else is doing. Don’t. Stick to your guns and do what you do best.

If today finds you complaining about your limits, obsessed with your products, and distracted by the competition, I recommend you learn some lessons from a donut shop.

And for those of you who need to see the buzz yourself, there is nothing like a road trip.

My suggestion would be the cinnamon twist.

Leadership Begins at Home,,


 When was the last time (and where) you found buzz in an unexpected place?

Any of you ever been to Thomas Donut & Snack Shop?