‘Glaze Ceiling’ the Frosting on Doughnut for a Successful Business

After 15 books, 60 scholarly articles and a column for the Courier-Journal, Lyle Sussman thought he was done as a writer. Then his daughter decided to go into the doughnut business.

That was all the inspiration the semi-retired professor of management at the University of Louisville needed for his 16th and latest book, Breaking the Glaze Ceiling: Sweet Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Wannabes, which came out in December.

Lyle Sussman, Annie Harlow and Leslie Wilson

Lyle Sussman, Annie Harlow and Leslie Wilson

Sussman’s daughter, Annie Harlow, and her partner, Leslie Wilson, have run Hi-Five Doughnuts, largely from the back of a truck, for the past three years, selling their wares at festivals and events, including a few Jewish ones. They have even rated a write-up in the June issue of Southern Living Magazine.

Now, they are about to open their first store in a converted camelback house in Butchertown.

And they’ve achieved this success without buying a single ad. Instead, they have built a following on social media, especially through their 13,000-plus followers on Instagram.

It’s a success story that Sussman, who also works as a consultant in the financial and retail sectors, including some Fortune 500 companies, never saw coming.

“I never expected they’d be where they are now,” he said. “They started with a folding table at a flea market, and now they’re at brick and mortar.”

So he decided to write about it.

“It was about a year ago at this time that I said there’s something happening here that I can share with a much wider audience.”

The 75-page book chronicles 12 lessons that Sussman culled as he watched his daughter and Wilson for budding businessmen – the so-called “entrepreneurs, innovators and wannabees” he refers to in his subtitle – as well as established companies.

One of those lessons is, “Planning assumes, execution delivers.” In other words, it takes more than a great idea to be successful in business.

“Breakthroughs are based more on courage than ideas,” Sussman said. “I told Annie she shouldn’t do this. She said, ‘Dad, I’m going to do this. I don’t care what you say.’”

On a recent visit to the as-yet unopened store, Harlow showed off the latest additions to the business – an antique display case they found on Craigslist, a hand-painted doughnut mural on a counter and recessed lighting over a doughnut bar.

“It’s looks so rad!” she exclaimed, flicking on and off the switch to the lighting.

A play on the line from the recent presidential election, in which Hilary Clinton became the first woman nominee of a major party, Sussman said the title of the book is a metaphor for all the barriers that Harlow and Wilson broke through to reach their goals.

For him, an author with more than 1 million copies of his books in print in 15 languages, “Breaking the Glaze Ceiling” represents a personal “breakthrough.”

“This has reenergized me,” he said. “There may be a sequel to Breaking the Glaze Ceiling. Based upon the market response I’m getting thus far, even before the book’s launch, there may be a Glaze II coming up.”


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