97: Panera CEO Blaine Hurst; Plus, Why Parents Must Make A Screen Time Strategy

Blaine Hurst led Panera's technology transformation in food delivery and digital ordering, and is now CEO.

Blaine Hurst led Panera's technology transformation in food delivery and digital ordering, and is now CEO.

Panera had a problem. At lunchtime, customers were mobbing the counters to order and pick up, and it was a mess. It was frustrating for everyone involved, and management knew they were probably missing out on sales because of it.

The company's founder turned to Blaine Hurst to lead the search for a solution. As the company's chief technology officer, he put together a team to make Panera a leader in digital ordering and fast pickup. First through a website and in-store kiosks and now through mobile ordering and delivery, those tech efforts have paid off. The company is on pace to book $2 billion worth of digital orders this year.

To talk about how he got there, I sat down with Hurst for this week's Fortt Knox 1-on-1. The answer isn't what I expected. There was no getting buy-in from across the company about what the problem was before the team crafted a solution. And now that he's the CEO and not the CTO, he's had to shift his methods somewhat.

How Should Parents Set Screen-Time Boundaries?

I've got a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old at home, and we're doing the screen time dance. I call it a dance and not a battle because we have at least the beginnings of thoughtful rules. We’re not fighting about them, yet.

First, they don't typically get screen time during the school week. TV and video games are for weekends. Even then, they don’t get video game time until they’ve finished responsibilities like piano practice and cleaning up their toys. They get a specific amount of screen time, and they get to choose how they want to divide it between devices. They don’t have phones, and I’m not sure when they will. One thing I do know: When each gets a smartphone, at first it will do nothing but make and accept phone calls; my wife and I will enable other features as the kids show they’re responsible enough.

Does this plan make sense? I decided to ask some experts. Richard Freed is a child and adolescent psychologist, and the author of Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age; he joined me from San Francisco. Anya Kamenetz is lead education blogger for NPR, and author of The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life; she joined me in New York. And Katherine Omerod is a social media influencer and author of Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life; she joined me from London. In our conversation I got feedback and a few pointers on how other parents can set boundaries. Be a friend and share this episode with a parent you know.