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The Inspiring Success Story of Colonel Sanders and KFC- The Power of Persistence

Colonel Sanders
Colonel Sanders (Picture credit: Jessica Dillree from flickr

Welcome to Youth Motivator. I would like to tell you the success story of Colonel Sanders and his company, KFC.
Let us know how Colonel Sanders built this global brand through his hard-work and persistence.

Colonel Sanders is the founder of the most-liked chicken brand in the world, KFC.
Now, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is one of the world’s most favourite fast food restaurant companies.

KFC is a very well-known brand among the chicken lovers, but even if you don’t like chicken, the life story of Colonel Sanders will definitely inspire you to do your best.
This article is a must read if you are discouraged by the failures in your life.

You will be surprised to know that Colonel Sanders did not lose hope, even after getting rejected for 1009 times because he had confidence in his work and eventually he succeeded in establishing a billion dollar multi-national company.

This article is the biography of Colonel Sanders.

Success doesn’t know your age-

This journey of Colonel Sanders and KFC started when he was 65 years old.
By succeeding at this age, he proved that to achieve success there is no age bar.

At the age when many people retire from work, Colonel Sanders went on to become an entrepreneur and eventually succeeded to become one, thus inspiring millions of people.
His success story affirms that you are never too old to achieve success in your life.

This story also proves that you can be successful at any age, provided you should possess the qualities like persistence, determination and passion towards your work.

Now, KFC is one of the biggest and most successful global brands, all thanks to the relentless determination and persistence of Colonel Sanders.


Harland David Sanders (Colonel Sanders) was born on September 9, 1890 to Wilbur David Sanders and Margaret Ann Sanders in Henryville, Indiana, USA.

He was the eldest child in the family; he had a younger brother, Clarence Sanders and a younger sister, Catherine Sanders.
Unfortunately in the summer of 1895, his father, Wilbur David Sanders passed away.

Colonel Sanders was just five years old when this incident happened.
This forced his mother, Margaret Ann Sanders to work in a tomato cannery.

Taking responsibilities early on-

So, at this young age Colonel Sanders was burdened with the responsibilities of taking care and cooking for his younger siblings.

At this time, he took the responsibility of cooking the food, for which he learnt cooking from his mother.
During this period, Colonel Sanders developed an interest for cooking the chicken.

Later, in the year 1902, his mother re-married a man, by name William Broaddus.
After this marriage, the whole family shifted to the Greenwood in Indiana.
But his stepfather, William Broaddus did not like the presence of boys in their house.

Leaving the home-

His family experienced severe poverty, so Colonel Sanders left home at the age of thirteen to find a job.
Colonel Sanders was sent to work on a farm, which was located about 80 miles away from his home.

Colonel Sanders later dropped out from the school in his seventh grade, as he liked to work instead of attending the school.

And at his thirteen years, he reached the Indianapolis city where he started doing painting work of the horse carriages for a living.

Colonel Sanders left that work and in the year 1906, he shifted to New Albany, Indiana to live with his uncle.     

After this, Colonel Sanders also worked as a conductor for a tram company; he was helped by his uncle who worked for the streetcar company to secure this job.

He started to do several odd jobs for a living; he also worked as a wagoner for the United States Army in its mission in Cuba.

His uncle was working for the Southern Railway and he later helped the Colonel Sanders to secure a job as a blacksmith's helper in the railways workshop.
While working on the railroad, he met Josephine King.

Later in the year 1909, he married Josephine King. And this couple was blessed with three children, namely Harland Jr., Margaret Sanders and Mildred Sanders Ruggles.

The beginning of the bad times-

Colonel Sanders later worked as a fireman for the Illinois Central Railroad.
During these happy times, he was fired from his job, when he quarreled with a colleague.
After this incident, his wife and his children left him.

Later, Colonel Sanders did many odd jobs like practicing law, selling insurance, credit cards, tyres, etc.
He was not able to fit in any of these jobs as a result; he failed in his professional life and was frequently changing his jobs.

In year 1920, Colonel Sanders started a ferry boat company and operated a boat on the Ohio River and later, he wished to manufacture lamps.

So, he started a company to manufacture acetylene lamps but his company failed when another company, Delco Electronics produced a much better lamp, which was much better than the lamp which Colonel Sanders manufactured.

And in the year 1929, Colonel Sanders moved to a small city by name North Corbin in Kentucky and here, he operated a service station on the route 25.
He used to do almost any job which was available, without any proper career goal.

Realising late-

So, like this Colonel Sanders spent half of his life, doing many odd jobs for a living, failing to achieve anything significant in his life.

Colonel Sanders failed to stay in one particular job for an extended period of time; as a result he was always on the search for a new job.

He understood that instead of randomly switching careers which would lead him to nowhere, settling in a single career would be more beneficial.

Finally finding passion in his profession-

So, Colonel Sanders decided to settle in the field of cooking.
Luckily, the cooking skills which he learnt from his mother at the age of seven came to his rescue.
This earned him a job as a cook and a dishwasher in a small restaurant.

And later, Colonel Sanders settled into a permanent job in the year 1930, working at the Shell service station, which was located in North Corbin.
While working here, he utilised his free time for cooking the dishes which he learnt from his mother.

Colonel Sanders used to serve these dishes in the nearby small quarters, which was opened near the service station.

Getting recognised-

Eventually, as his recipes grew in popularity, many travellers used to regularly visit his service station to taste his yummy food.
Colonel Sanders became well-known for his steak and country ham meals.

And as his small eatery failed to accommodate the ever increasing customers, he decided to open his own restaurant.

So in the year 1936, Colonel Sanders bought a large piece of land in the nearby area and built a restaurant with all his savings.

And during these times, he also did an eight week hotel management course from the Cornell University, to run his business more efficiently.
In this restaurant, Colonel Sanders served many new dishes which also included his legendary fried chicken dish.

Getting the colonel title-

The governor of Kentucky, Ruby Laffoon liked his chicken so much that he gave him the title of colonel.

And in the next year, Colonel Sanders expanded his hotel; this new hotel was capable of accommodating 140 people at the same time.

This success motivated him to work even hard, so he strived to continuously improve his production process and also expand his business to the different parts of the country.

Franchising out-

Due to the effects of the World War 2, Colonel Sanders was forced to close down his restaurant.
Even as his chicken recipe was very successful, he was not able to sell it because he did not have his restaurant; this made him to franchise out his recipe.

So, Colonel Sanders decided to franchise out his chicken recipe and he started travelling by a car with the cooking supplies to different restaurants.

He used to market his chicken by cooking it in front of the restaurant owners and then request them to taste his fried chicken.

But unfortunately, 1009 restaurants rejected his chicken recipe as they did not like the taste of his fried chicken.

Believing in the self-

Even after all these rejections, Colonel Sanders did not lose his hope, he firmly believed in the uniqueness of his recipe.
He believed that one fine day his recipe would definitely become popular and successful.

So, Colonel Sanders kept trying and luckily one restaurant owner agreed to sell his fried chicken.
This recipe became a runaway hit and after this nothing stopped Colonel Sanders from succeeding.

The first franchise-

The first franchise of KFC was set up in the year 1952 in South Salt Lake, Utah USA.
By observing the success of this recipe, many restaurants queued up for his recipe.
By the year 1963, more than 600 restaurants in the USA were selling the Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And just after four years, Kentucky Fried Chicken was in its peak sales.
Later in 1964, Colonel Sanders decided to sell his corporation to John Y. Brown Jr., who was a lawyer and future governor of Kentucky.

As a result, Colonel Sanders received two million dollars in cash and he was annually paid 250,000 dollars, for being the face of the company.
And KFC also set up its stand-alone stores which encouraged the take-home model.

In the year 1967, KFC became the sixth largest restaurant chain in the US, according to the sales volume.

And in the 1970s, KFC rapidly expanded all over the globe with more than 3000 stores in over 40 countries.

Getting acquired by numerous companies-

With the passage of time, KFC changed many hands.
In 1971, Heublein industries brought KFC for 285 million dollars.
And in the year 1982, the Heublein industries was acquired by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

And finally, in 1986, PepsiCo bought R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for 840 million dollars.
Later, PepsiCo renamed its restaurants division as Yum! and many new recipes were added which included desserts, drinks, sandwiches, etc.

Even after the addition of many recipes, its legendary fried chicken remained the best-seller.    
And by the year 1991, KFC opened around 8,500 franchises across the world which doubled its sales; as a result, their revenue reached a whopping 6.2 billion dollars.

Now, KFC is present in over 141 countries.
And today, the brand value of KFC is more than 8.5 billion dollars.

Quality and customer satisfaction above all-

The main reasons for the success of KFC can be attributed to the Colonel Sanders who only focused on the quality and customer experience instead of focusing majorly on accumulating wealth.

Since, its inception KFC has won the hearts of the people all over the world with its unique recipe which made it one of the biggest global brands.

So, after struggling for the most part of his life, finally Colonel Sanders succeeded in achieving something big.

Colonel Sanders passed away on December 16, 1980 due to pneumonia when he was 90 years old in Louisville, Kentucky.

The persistence and determination of Colonel Sanders towards the KFC made him a global icon, whose smiling face daily welcomes the hungry customers into the KFC.

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