Colonel Sanders

CMy quest is to explore people who succeeded later in life.  C is for one of my oldest success stories Colonel Sanders. If you think of Colonel Sanders as a sweet and gentle old man, you might be surprised.


Interesting Facts:  

–    Born Harland Sanders in 1890, Harland lost his dad at six and his mom had to work several jobs.  He took on the care of his two younger siblings and the home until the age of 10 when he started working as a farmhand for $2 a month.  At 16, he forged his documents in order to enter the Army.  After a short 3 month stint in Cuba, he was honorably discharged.

–  As I found with Louisa May Alcott, Sanders had many jobs including fireman on the railroad(lost job after brawling with a colleague), insurance salesman(fired for insubordination), steamboat ferry operator, tire salesmen, gas station operator and my personal favorite, a country lawyer(lost job after a courtroom brawl with his own client).  At 40, he was broke and jobless when Shell Oil offered him a gig running a station in Kentucky.

–  Sanders had married in 1909 to Josephine King.  They had three kids together.  However, Sanders start up a long time affair with Claudia Price.  In 1947, he finally divorced Josephine and married Claudia in 1949.

–  In an effort to cook his chicken faster, Sanders found a pressure cooker at the hardware store and adapted it to cook his chicken.

–  Colonel is a recognition from the state of Kentucky bestowed to Kentucky’s “ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship” around the world for “outstanding service to the community, state, and nation.”  Colonel Sanders is in company with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Jim Beam, Betty White, and Winston Churchill as a Kentucky Colonel.


A rebuilt restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, modeled after the restaurant where Colonel Sanders developed Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Route to Success:

–  While running his gas station, Sanders found travelers were hungry.  He started serving them meals at his own table calling them “home meal replacements.”  Soon he was so popular he bought the motel across the street and opened a restaurant until it burned down.  He rebuilt but a year later the highway beside his restaurant became obsolete when a new interstate was built.  He sold his business barely breaking even.  Sanders took his show on the road.

–  At the age of 62, Sanders drove from town to town pleading diner owners to use his delicious chicken recipe and give him a nickel commission for each piece sold.  He was sleeping in his car and broke.

–  Do Drop Inn in Salt Lake City was the first to accept his offer and sealed it with a handshake.  Soon Sanders made over 200 deals in the US and Canada.  This is around the time he started dressing the part of Colonel.  In 1964, Sanders sold his company for $2 million but stayed on as the spokesman traveling the world until his death at 90 in 1980.


My Take Away:

I must admit I’m not a big KFC fan mostly because I don’t eat meat on the bone.  However, my daughter occasionally asks for their corn on the cob.  I do remember as a child my family bringing home the big bucket of chicken.  Us kids would fight over the drumstick.

As far as his success, it seems to me one of the main reasons people find success is because they have reached the point of do or die.  Many of them must have the deep-seated belief in themselves to keep going.  Now, I am starting to wonder what causes some people to push past all their obstacles to final reach success no matter how long it takes and those who give up at the first sign of a bump in the road?


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