The story behind your Boneless Banquet
In order to build something great, you have to start at a young age.
The story of Colonel Sanders (KFC guy) says otherwise. It's a remarkable story, and we thought it was worth writing about.
At age 16, Sanders faked his age to enlist in the United States Army. After being honourably discharged a year later, he was hired as a labourer on the railway, where he was soon fired for fighting with a coworker. He then studied law, but his legal career was cut short after getting into a fight with a client. Sanders was forced to move back in with his mom and get a job selling life insurance, which he got also got fired from for insubordination.
Sanders launched his first startup at the age of 30 – a ferry boat service over the Ohio River. Unfortunately, a bridge was built nearby, which made this service redundant. He then started an oil lamp business, but this ultimately failed when electricity arrived in rural America.
In 1927, Sanders took charge of a gas station in Kentucky, but the economic slump that was the Great Depression forced the business to close in 1930. Despite this, he opened a second service station later that year, where he started selling his homemade chicken to truck drivers for a bit of extra cash.
The service station grew to become Sanders Court and Café. At age 49, he bought a motel but was forced to sell it at the start of World War II. Things were looking pretty bleak. Then, in 1939, his service station burned down to the ground.
Sanders rebuilt the restaurant, bigger and better than before. Then, in 1956, just as the service station was building traction, a new highway which bypassed it was commissioned. Sanders sold the building.
With nothing but a $105 monthly social security cheque to his name, Sanders made one last-ditch attempt at success. He was 62 when he opened another service station, which soon became known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders had been trying to franchise his restaurant for some time. His recipe had been rejected 1009 times before anyone accepted it. In 1956, Sanders travelled the country to sell his secret spice blend and patented pressure cooking technique. Sanders taught kitchen staff his methods, and restaurants paid him 5 cents for every bird they sold.
By 1963 – and at the age of 66 – Sanders had 600 locations, including overseas franchises in Canada, Mexico and the UK. In 1964 he sold the business to investors for $2 million ($20 million in today's money). The company went public 2 years later, and by 1970, KFC had 3,000 restaurants across 48 countries.
Today, there are around 25,000 KFC outlets in 147 countries around the world.
Decades of persistence, determination and resilience in the face of adversity left Colonel Sanders with an astounding legacy, especially given that he made his fortune in his mid-70s. No spring chicken, but not too old to chase his dreams and achieve ultra success.
The odds may not be stacked in your favour today, but that doesn't mean you can't win. You just have to keep playing the game.
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