Rise above your fears, make your voice heard

As a little girl, I remember standing under my family’s pizza shop sign, listening to my dad talk about how he was going to grow our family business. I always admired his smart business sense, passion and aspirational vision. And, even at a young age, I longed to follow in his footsteps.

I often talk about the four Cs of success, many of which my father taught me — character, courage, conviction and compassion. These are the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as I’ve watched this business grow. These four simple traits of a strong business leader transcend age, race or gender.

Over the years, I’ve experienced firsthand the value of the four Cs, and also realized that some are more easily achieved than others for women in business.

Live your values

Early on in my career, it felt natural to operate with strong character, conviction and compassion. However, there was a point in time where I lost my courage and didn’t feel comfortable voicing many of my ideas and values. I was working in fear.

I think a lot of successful and ambitious women don’t always have the courage to make their voice heard. Whether they feel their opinions aren’t warranted or they fear the consequences — it can be hard to have courage.

In many cases, character, conviction and compassion live within us, but it’s crucial for women in business today to have the courage to actually live these values out loud.

I myself have been lucky enough to work alongside many courageous women like: my mother, Tanny Crane, Nancy Kramer, Kerrii B. Anderson, Margie Pizzuti and Diane Bennett. Each of them represents courage and devotion to their respective fields. These women helped me regain my courage and inspired me to help female associates at Donatos find their voices as well.

Triumphing over fear

At Donatos, we strive to build a culture that not only celebrates women, but also creates an optimal environment for them to be courageous. Currently, 43 percent of Donatos managers at the home office and in the stores are female, and my hope is that these women find themselves in an environment that promotes character, conviction, compassion AND courage.

Recently I was asked to give a speech to graduating college students, and a young woman asked if I thought I was fearless.

That simple question reminded me of a quote from Nelson Mandela, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” So no, I don’t think I’m fearless, but I can confidently say at this stage in my career, I’ve learned to be courageous.

And I would encourage all women in business, whether entry-level or executive, to rise above any fear or insecurities and have the courage to accomplish the task at hand.


Jane Grote Abell is the Chairwoman of the Board at Donatos Pizza. A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane is heavily focused on the chain’s mission of promoting goodwill through product, service, principles and people. She was named CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO, featured in CBS’s hit series “Undercover Boss” and released her first book in December 2015 “The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way.”