“Founder” The story of Ray Kroc

When it comes to McDonalds, it will be hard to find someone who despises the food more than I do. However, I do love a good inspirational business movie and that’s exactly what “Founder” is. It was awesome to see how someone who was laughed at by his peers and never had his business ventures taken seriously, finally achieve his goals and create something legendary. Although I still won’t eat their food, I have a newfound respect for the company itself. Below I’ve included a few take aways from the movie.

  1. Be persistent — In one of the opening scenes, it shows Ray listening to some tapes in his hotel room. Tapes that sound like they were older personal development tapes, talking about persistence. This turned out to be the key factor in Ray’s success as he didn’t find out about McDonalds until he was 50 years old. Until that point, he and his inventions weren’t taken seriously. Despite all that, he never gave up and it paid off. There’s a line in the movie I like where he’s at a parcel of land they want to build a McDonalds , kneeling down on the ground and thinking “you only have to be right once”. Very powerful statement.
  2. Never lower your standards — One thing I thought was cool was Kroc’s relentless devotion to quality with all parts of the business. The food, service, even the property around the restaurant. When starting the franchise in Chicago, Ray hired some of his friends from the country club. When his friends run their franchises up to Ray’s standards, he fired them. It drove him nuts that their restaurants were messy and small things such as there being 3 pickles on a burger instead of 2. This relentless obsession over quality lead to consistency across all the franchises.
  3. Be creative — Despite growing the franchise quickly, Ray found himself in a financial hardship due to the poor deal he signed with the creators of McDonalds. In comes Harry Sonnenborne who tells him to sell real estate instead of Hamburgers. A genius idea that not only makes Ray more wealthy, it allows him to break out of that poor contract.
  4. Think Big — Just as the first Business book I read, written by everyone’s new favorite president says, “Think big!”. The McDonald brothers were thinking too “local” which is why they only ran one successful location. On the other hand, Ray was thinking massive, picturing McDonalds all across the country and he followed this vision until it’s fruition. This in turned made Croc a very successful and rich man. When Ray started to break the contract, there was nothing the McDonald brothers could do because they didn’t have any money to sue.
  5. Hunt or Be Hunted — While I strongly disagree with some of the things Ray did to the McDonald brothers (made a handshake deal to pay them royalties and never paid them), it’s perfect evidence that in the business world you either hunt or you’re being hunted. The founders didn’t adapt to the newfound success of the company and it ended up killing them in the end. They ended up with a settlement check for a minuscule fraction compared to what the company is worth today.

With persistence, creativity, big think, and unwavering high standards, you too can be a hunter.