Tracy Britt Cool has been building businesses for as long as she can remember. Her start came earlier than most, helping with her family’s farm stand in Kansas and realizing the power of hard work even before she could reach the cash register. Managing farm stands and shipping produce throughout the American Midwest opened a world of opportunities to her and gave her a passion for building companies.
Britt Cool’s focus on becoming a better investor, combined with leveraging and drawing upon her life’s unique experiences, played a role in her decision to enter Harvard Business School immediately following college. To expand opportunities for women in business and investing, Britt Cool co-founded Smart Woman Securities, giving women real world personal finance and investment experience.
It was during a trip with Smart Woman Securities to Omaha, Nebraska, where Britt Cool met Warren Buffett. After graduating from business school, she joined Berkshire Hathaway as Buffett’s financial assistant, where she evaluated new investments and served on the boards of several Berkshire Hathaway companies including Kraft Heinz, Benjamin Moore and Oriental Trading Company.
Following five years in this role, Britt Cool became CEO of Pampered Chef, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that had been in decline for a decade. “This was an interesting company,” she says. “It gave me the opportunity to rebuild the business with a focus on developing people, refreshing the brand, and driving digital transformation.” And she did. By the time of Britt Cool’s departure in 2020, Pampered Chef had delivered significant sales growth, expanded margins, and boasted innovative products, a re-energized salesforce and an expansive digital platform.
Her takeaways from Berkshire Hathaway? Take the longer-term perspective, realize the power of actually operating a business, and understand the importance of being a good partner to families who care about their businesses. Those practices have guided Britt Cool in starting her business, Kanbrick, which launched in April 2020.
Kanbrick, co-founded with Brian Humphrey, is a long-term investment partnership that finds its purpose in “empowering people and organizations to reach their full potential.” At a macro level, this means buying and building great companies with a horizon of decades, not years like a lot of other firms. At an individual level, it means helping people develop and recognize their own opportunities with the goal of building a great culture.
Kanbrick’s differentiation doesn’t stop there – Britt Cool doesn’t want Kanbrick’s reach and impact to be limited to only its own companies, so she started Build with Kanbrick, a three-month free program for founders and CEOs geared toward supporting mid-size businesses. Its third cohort is currently accepting applications, and previous cohorts have benefited from Kanbrick’s learnings as investors, board members and executives.
Britt Cool has built a differentiated strategy with Kanbrick and knows that what worked in private investments years ago doesn’t any longer. “Businesses can’t be built in spreadsheets and Powerpoints; we create value through building enduring companies instead of financial wizardry and loads of debt.”
This idea of being anti-fragile versus simply resilient is at the heart of her business philosophy. Modern organizations must adapt faster than the world around them and are using the principles of teeming to do so.
Tracy Britt Cool, a member of YPO, will be speaking about how her industry is the future of how we all become anti-fragile versus simply resilient at Leading @ Scale on 22 February 2022. This first official joint YPO/EO global leadership event will be live broadcast from the Biomuseo in Panama City, Panama, where she will be joined by a diverse slate of speakers discussing how they have used a more nature-informed approach to scale their businesses using the principles of teeming to find success in employee engagement, growth and profits.