Ray Kroc would be 110 years old – Back to Basics


I’ve been studying as much as I can about the leadership of Ray Kroc these days. On October 5th, if he were still with us, he’d be 110 years old.

I am fascinated by this man’s attention to detail and his unwavering focus and optimism. Like all of us, he faced incredible adversity in both his personal life and his business affairs. But he never looked back. He just kept moving forward.

So much has been written and said about Mr. Kroc. So much.

As we work on our industry film, Back To Basics, I am reminded of his insightful community spirit.

Mr. Kroc had this uncanny ability to sell. But that is not what this post is about. No.

Ray was focused on community. He was a specialist at aligning his franchisees, investors and management team with his clear vision for McDonald’s.

He understood that bringing young people up through the ranks would provide a strong foundation for the future of his company. He educated them, trained them and helped them to succeed. He was like that with his franchisees as well. Although he would only allow you to have one store, he made sure that as a franchisee you were set up for success.

But, this post is not about that either. No.

This post is for the rest of us. To look back and take the lessons that we can from men like Mr. Kroc. Upon my research, I learned that in his later (and wealthier years), he distributed $8 Million of his own money to his key employees. I mean, who does that anymore?

Yes. Ray understood that community was the key.

In these tumultuous times, this global perspective and the speed at which the earth moves, our corporations could learn a thing or two from Mr. Kroc.

Today’s managers are boxed in. They are focused on short term share value. It’s not their fault. After all, they are just trying to keep their jobs.

What do you do when you are so short term focused? You take the path of least resistance. In today’s world, mired in the complexities of scale and scope, many in our community are going overseas. Because the markets are responding positively. That’s why we are doing it.

Thing is, we are forgetting a very important lesson that Mr. Kroc taught us. If we are going to pursue growth, we’ve got to have a strong foundation. Otherwise, in the long run, the whole thing will unravel.

That’s what today’s post is about. Long term perspective by reinvesting back into our communities.

It begins (and ends) at home. Our front line people are tomorrows leaders. We need to continue to bring them up through our industry, invest in their passion and energy and train them to be in our boardrooms, just the way Ray Kroc did.

Today, We need a healthier mix of professional managers and community entrepreneurs in our boardrooms so that we strike the balance between short term and long term value.

That’s what today’s post and our film project is all about!

Lets get “back to basics” – a film for anyone who has ever eaten or worked in a restaurant.

2 thoughts on “Ray Kroc would be 110 years old – Back to Basics

  1. Erle,
    Ray Kroc’s success legacy is so large that it is possible to forget his humble beginnings. He built everything from a strong professional AND personal foundation. In spite of his novel approach to product, systems, innovative financial strategies and talent magnetism – I doubt he would have achieved the business stratosphere without his spirit/spirited/spiritual embrace of our/his community. Mr. Kroc’s path to success can teach us many things – most of the best embody the word community and embrace the long term view. Thanks for the ping and great luck with the movie.

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