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Snap, Crackle, and Pop to Success: How Kellogg Built a Cereal Empire
He dropped out of school and was always considered to be the “dim-witted” child in his family. So how did this boy so destined for failure rise to become one of America’s most well-known entrepreneurs? Marketing: Kellogg was not afraid to be daring, especially when it came to his advertising. By resorting to free coupons and unique promotions – before his product was even in stores – Kellogg pushed the boundaries of acceptable advertising and caught people’s attention. Risk: Kellogg hardly knew the first thing about baking, but when he stumbled upon a recipe for corn flakes, he knew he was on to something. Even when the rest of the world told him he was crazy for pursuing it as a business idea, he persisted. In the end, it was Kellogg’s willingness to be different that took him to the top. Innovation: Kellogg would spend hours in the test kitchen of his brother’s Sanitarium, experimenting with new ingredients and recipes. He took the time to try new things, to follow his hunches, and to never stop searching for that next big thing. Even where a product came about as the result of an accident, it took the inquisitive eyes of Kellogg to take that accident and turn it into an asset. Fortitude: The Kellogg success story is notably also a story of intense sibling rivalry. The competition between J.H. and Will Kellogg only grew stronger throughout their lives. But whereas his older brother refused to accept his success, Kellogg maintained focused and plowed away at his own goals, eventually demonstrating that the best revenge is living well. People: Kellogg was a strict boss, but he also took care of his workers as if they were his own family. He was one of the first in the corporate world to begin offering such bonuses as nurseries and dieticians. Kellogg was also stoutly devoted to charity, and left most of his fortune to people who had less than him in life. When Kellogg first approached his older brother with the idea for expanding their new cereal business, he was met with resistance. “Let’s be content with a small business,” he was told. Why did he want to risk their fortune on toasted wheat flakes? Kellogg himself had doubts about his own capabilities. “I am myself lamentably ignorant,” he once told his son. “The competition in the business world is such that the people with good educations are usually those who succeed.” Then, there was also the fact that he was already well into his 40s. But Kellogg chose to ignore his brother, to ignore his own self doubts, and to continue working towards his goals. Today, Kellogg remains the number one breakfast cereal maker in the U.S., with some of the most popular brands under its control, including Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies. More recently, the company has also branched out into the snacks and non-cereal products, with lines such as Eggo waffles, Nutri-Grain bars, and Pop-Tarts.
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