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Lesson #3: Dedicate Yourself And Follow Through
“I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could,” Sanders once said. “And no hours, nor amount of labour, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”
When most people turn 60, they begin to think about retirement, about how to finally start relaxing and enjoying the fruits of their labour from the past decades. But, Sanders was not your ordinary 60 year old. Indeed, it was when he was 66 years old, and almost penniless to boot that Sanders decided to give his business idea one last go. He packed up all his things and his equipment and began to travel the country in search of restaurateurs who would buy his secret recipe from him.
“You’ve got to like your work,” said Sanders. “You have got to like what you are doing, you have got to be doing something worthwhile so you can like it – because it is worthwhile, that it makes a difference, don’t you see?”
Sanders loved his work. It was through sheer passion and persistence that he was able to continue trudging along even after he failed in not just one, not just two, but more than three businesses. He was an entrepreneur at heart, but he finally found his niche in the fast-food industry. And, he was not about to let that slip away.
Along his cross-country travels, Sanders was rejected 1,009 times. Few restaurant owners could see the merit in what he was selling. Dave Thomas, future founder of Wendy’s, also happened to be one of Sanders’ earliest franchisees. But, it was not a partnership that came easily. “I just questioned why we would want to give a guy in a ‘Gone With The Wind’-type of suit a nickel per head,” said Thomas. Soon, however, Sanders’ passion and persistence convinced Thomas, and hundreds of other franchisees, to get on board.
Once Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken, he lost the passion for anything else he might once have had. He had no other hobbies outside of the fast-food business. He never played golf; he never played tennis. He had found his calling and he was determined to make it happen.
That dedication was one of the key motivating factors for the rest of the KFC team. Sanders’ passion for his product inspired the rest of the company to exert the same amount of energy to realizing its success. As one early franchisee said, “If I didn’t build a new store every year, I would feel like I was letting [Sanders] down.”
Sanders spent a total of two years driving across the country trying to sell his product. He was turned down almost too many times to count. Each and every rejection stung him as much as the last, but this was one 66 year old who was not about to give up on his dreams.
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