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Atlanta Rotary Podcast: Michael Coles

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Deeply involved in the community, Michael Coles is a transformational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, education advocate and motivational speaker. He is living proof that there are no limits to what we as individuals can accomplish. He brings his story to life in his presentation which is entitled Taking on Goliath.

After a successful 19-year career in the clothing business, Michael tested his entrepreneurial skills in 1977 when he co-founded Great American Cookie Company with an investment of only $8000. Shortly after starting the company, Michael was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident and was told by doctors he would never walk again unaided. As Michael recovered through a self-designed rehabilitation program, he took the company from its first store in Perimeter Mall in Atlanta to hundreds of stores nationwide and, at the same time, set three coast-to-coast cycling records. When Michael started the Great American Cookie Company, there were three major cookie companies in business; one had almost 100 stores and the other two had fifty each. When he sold the company in 1998 with sales over $100 million, the Great American Cookie Company was the largest franchisor of cookie stores and the other three companies no longer existed.

Michael received the National Women’s Political Caucus Good Guy of the Year Award for his work on behalf of women’s issues. He joined the ranks of past recipients, including Ed Asner, Alan Alda and former Vice President and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale.

On October 17, 2018 Michael officially launched his new book titled “Time to Get Tough: How Cookies Coffee and a Crash Led To Success in Business and Life.” More information at:

Michael continues to serve on numerous non-profit boards. He is a member of The Jackson Hole Rotary Club.

Michael lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with his wife Donna and they are the parents of three adult children and seven grandchildren.

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