By Lexi Rachal, Wildcats Media
Louisiana Christian University kicked off its inaugural Dr. Maggie Martin Marketplace Leadership Summit featuring keynote speaker Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Thursday afternoon in Granberry Conference Center.
Beiler gave her personal testimony of her journey, her success and her purpose. She explained how her choices impacted her life and her success.
“Our choice today determines the life we will live tomorrow,” Beiler said.
Natalie Monroe, vice president of environmental safety and sustainability operations at RoyOMartin, explained the purpose of the event and introduced her mother, Dr. Maggie Martin—the namesake of the summit. Monroe and her husband Darryl are the presenting sponsors of the event.
Martin then introduced Beiler to the packed Granberry Conference Center.
“As I was researching our guest speaker today, I quickly thought, Anne Beiler is a friend whom I have yet met,” Martin said. “Having visited with her briefly, she definitely is a friend, I can see there are many similarities in our lives.”
Martin gave some background information on Beiler and spoke about her perseverance through pain in life, which ultimately led to her success as a businesswoman.
“She twisted the pretzels, but through her journey, she also twisted her fate,” Martin said.
Throughout her presentation, Beiler emphasized the importance of finding your purpose through the presence of God.
“We are created to house the presence of God in our bodies and to walk and to talk with Him every single day,” Beiler said. “That’s our purpose.”
Beiler talked about her Amish roots and the things she learned from being in that culture that were foundational to her family life, faith and work ethic.
She said during the early years of marriage, she and her husband were on fire for God. They built a church and were heavily involved in it.
“We were in the middle of all of that and just feeling that God is good, and like we were living our purpose,” she said, “We were married seven years when we experienced tragedy and trauma.”
Their 19-month-old daughter was accidentally killed.
“I began a very slow and gradually descent into a world of emotional pain and spiritual confusion,” Beiler said.
She and her husband just went on with life because they didn’t know how to deal with grief. Eventually, she tried to find answers by speaking with her pastor.
Her pastor took advantage of her. This led her to make one of the biggest decisions of her life.
“That day I made a choice to keep a secret,” she said. “I decide that I would never tell anyone what happened to me. That one secret, that one choice, changed everything for me.”
The choice led to her near destruction—in her family life, her spiritual life and her physical life.
After a lot of inner turmoil and prayer, she told her husband about what happened, which allowed her to heal from the trauma.
After sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing in her life, she spoke about the origins of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.
“She really lived out—as you can hear in her testimony—the salt and light that God called her to be,” Monroe said.
Beiler said she is thankful that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things because she is a very ordinary person. She explained the ways God used her even though she did not have formal education.
“According to the standards of this world, I was not qualified to be Auntie Anne,” she said. “There wasn’t a headhunter in the world who would’ve come looking for me, Anne Beiler, to be the CEO of an international franchise organization…I was not qualified. I love God though. I made a pretzel, and the rest is history.”
Beiler explained Auntie Anne’s Pretzels is a modern-day business miracle—it defied all odds.
She talked about the two goals they set for the business: to be profitable to give and be light in the world of business.
Through her journey of creating Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Beiler said her business was lacking three things—formal education, capital and a business plan. However, what she did have were a purpose, a product that is better than the rest, and people who were loyal to her purpose.
Cindy Cespiva, entrepreneur, and small business owner, who attended the event said Beiler was courageous for sharing her story.
“The greatest impact today left me was that she was so open and honest to share her story,” Cespiva said. “To me, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, to share the darkest moments of your life with strangers.”
Cespiva said the event benefitted everyone who attended because everyone goes through hard times, and it was encouraging to her about her story of grace and perseverance.
LCU senior business marketing and management major Kaleb Breaux said he appreciated Beiler’s emphasis on relying on God’s direction.
“I like how the speaker encouraged us to place our trust in the Lord and He will provide,” Breaux said. “She showed how someone who seems very unfit for a certain position can overcome difficulties through their trust in God and succeed beyond all expectations.”
Louisiana Christian University President Dr. Rick Brewer and Pineville Mayor Rich Dupree presented Beiler with a key to the City of Pineville.
“You could not have asked for a better speaker for this inaugural event,” Brewer said. “Anne’s story and insight was inspirational and motivational. Her character and convictional leadership resonate with the focus of the Jonathan E. Martin MBA Program. Looking forward to the next Dr. Maggie Martin Marketplace Leadership Summit April 18, 2024.”