In 1954, a milkshake mixer machine salesman sold eight of his mixers to a small road side restaurant in California that was booming with business. He was blown away by their ability to produce an order in under a minute. The brothers who owned the restaurant gave him a tour of their operation which was a model of systems and efficiency.
Eventually, the salesman struck a deal with the brothers that allowed him to franchise their business. The rest is history. That salesman was Ray Kroc, and the restaurant was McDonalds.
Before his death in 1984, Ray Kroc was the owner of the San Diego Padres and was worth about a billion dollars. He became a celebrity and was known as “The Founder”. Truly, a story of financial success.
But, was it worth it?
- Ray Kroc had adulterous relationships and divorced his first wife after nearly 40 years of marriage and his second wife after only five. He was in his third marriage at the time of his death.
- He was an alcoholic.
- His business relationship with the McDonald brothers deteriorated and he allegedly broke an agreement with them that would have given them future royalties. Eventually, the brothers closed the single store that started it all.
- Kroc is quoted as saying, “if any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water.”
- McDonalds signaled a beginning to higher obesity and diabetes rates. Coincidentally, his only child died from diabetes eleven years prior to Kroc’s own death.
While there are certainly incredible achievements from his life, I still ask, “Was it worth it?”
I hope that we never lose sight of what is most important. I want success for our people and for our company but I don’t believe that we need to risk our health, our families or our integrity. It’s just not worth it.