April 20, 2015

Colonel Sanders : 'Success after 40' Series

Colonel Sanders

The 1974 autobiography of Harland Sanders (aka Colonel Saunders) listed him as having been

  • a sixth-grade dropout
  • a farm hand
  • an army mule-tender
  • a locomotive fireman
  • a railroad worker
  • an aspiring lawyer
  • an insurance salesman
  • ferryboat entrepreneur
  • a tire salesman
  • an amateur obstetrician
  • an (unsuccessful) political candidate
  • a gas station operator
  • a motel operator and finally
  • A restaurateur

First of all, very few reading this would have tried 14 totally different jobs in a lifetime, yet we so easily give up with the excuse of ‘I have tried everything’. The key to eventual success is NEVER GIVING UP! Like all the other fantastic men & women in this series, one common thread runs through, ‘Seeming Stumbling blocks were leveraged as eventual stepping stones’. I was surprised to find that the key to fame, the recipe for the Kentucky fried chicken was born out of circumstances in Colonel Sander’s life. He lost his father at the age of 6 and had to fend for his siblings because his mum had to go back to work. This meant he had to do the cooking. He must have done this with a smile, otherwise how else would he have learnt from it?

Another key pointer to the life of KFC founder, Colonel Sanders was his ability to turn situations around – ‘make lemonade out of lemons’ as many would say. Just think about this, he thought he was doing well by owning a gas station on a busy stretch of road until one day he realised travellers could get quick meals at his dining table. At the age of 40, he was a man on a mission, and realised that he could get even more by making HIS PASSION HIS BUSINESS. He quickly came up with a range of ready meals which, and though they were called ‘Sunday dinners’, they were sold daily to travellers. This idea worked so successfully and his chicken became so well acclaimed that the governor of Kentucky at the time accorded him the title of colonel. He swiftly moved on and focused on the ‘Food business’ instead of the gas station.

You would be right if by now you say, Harland had had enough misfortune for a lifetime so imagine how he would have felt when a new highway was built, which reduced traffic to his restaurant. This didn’t deter Harland, he knew there had to be a way out and from yet another let down, the idea of Franchising was born. At the age of 62, Harland Sander’s idea launched him into untold fame, riches and success. Just imagine, if that highway hadn’t become too quiet, you might never have tasted the finger-licking KFC chicken in your lifetime.

Harland’s story is one of persistence, never giving up and always finding the silver lining in every circumstance he was confronted with.


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