Burger, fries and a shake

‘Energy and persistence conquer all things.’ – Benjamin Franklin

You see them scattered all over the planet. Kids love them; they have an iconic logo and always place on the Top 10 list of global brands. I am also a first-hand witness that kids (very young kids) have the amazing ability to spot their logo from miles away. Love or hate their food, the one thing that you cannot argue with is their success.

The founder of this food empire was a man called Ray Kroc. Ray Kroc was an incredible entrepreneur and his story is one we can all learn from. It’s a story of determination, persistence and never giving up on your dream.

At fifty-one years of age, Kroc wasn’t making much money, but he wasn’t letting go of his dreams. Ray was a milkshake machine salesman. He was laid off at the age of fifty-one, but instead of allowing this setback to hurt him, he still had ambitions of making it big. It would take far too long to go into Kroc’s failures and challenges, but a quote I read says a huge amount about his determination to becoming a success:

‘When I met the McDonalds brothers, I was ready for the opportunity. By then, I had enough experience in the food and beverage business that I could tell a real idea from a counterfeit.’ The McDonald brothers felt that there was a big opportunity for fast food. They felt that after the war, women were joining the workforce and a new need would exist for fast and convenient food.

For twenty-five years Kroc had some success and many failures in the food service industry, but he was passionate about it and kept persevering. Kroc was well known for going the extra mile for his clients and trying to help them add revenue to their business by using his milkshake-maker and other related products. So in 1954, when Ray Kroc saw what the McDonald brothers were doing, his eyes lit up. He partnered with the brothers and began opening McDonald’s restaurants. They launched a few fast food diners in California and they created the drive-through concept. The tough times, the failures, the years of struggle all started to pay off in that moment.

Remember that it wasn’t Ray Kroc who invented McDonalds, but when he saw what they were planning he immediately had a mental picture in his mind of what the potential was. Ray Kroc had a vision of thousands of McDonalds around the world. Kroc had been preparing all of his life for this moment. All the years of struggle and challenge were about to be rewarded. Ray Kroc knew, even at the age of fifty-two, that he wasn’t going to give up on his dreams.

The rest is history; he launched McDonalds with the McDonald brothers and then, in 1961, he bought out the brothers for $2.7 million. He then proceeded to build the biggest franchise operation in the world. In early 1984, he died a billionaire but by then he had left his mark on the world as a successful entrepreneur. There are today over thirty-one thousand McDonalds in about one hundred and twenty countries across the planet. He was a late starter, but boy did he finish strong. The lesson of Ray Kroc is that there are opportunities everywhere, but if we can’t see them, if our mindset isn’t ready for them, then the opportunities remain invisible.

That’s the inspiring story of Ray Kroc, a determined and persistent man who never gave up on his dream. It’s also proof that it’s never too late in life to dream and succeed.

An extract from my book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times. Buy a copy today!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

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