In today’s post, I’m going to share the top 31 business lessons I learned from Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s®.
Last week, I traveled to Maine to visit my parents. During my time there, my mom and I went to the bookstore to find some good books to read.
As I stumbled through the business section at the local Barnes & Noble® book store, I found a book that caught my attention.
It was titled “Grinding it Out” by Ray Kroc and Robert Anderson.
It covered the story of how Ray Kroc built the McDonald’s® empire.
I figured it would be a great read, so I purchased a copy.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the book immensely. I read it cover to cover over a four-day period of time, and highlighted tons of passages and quotes I enjoyed.
What I want to do in the paragraphs below is share some of my favorite quotes from the book. In layman’s terms, you could call this Ray Kroc business lessons. Each quote is in bold and italics. After each quote I will share my own two cents. Enjoy.
Top Ray Kroc Quotes
# 1 I have always believed that each man makes his own happiness and is responsible for his own problems.
We are all responsible for our own success and happiness. We are the Captains of our own lives. We must take 100 percent responsibility for our own lives.
# 2 Work is the meat in the hamburger of life.
No matter what you are trying to accomplish in life, it will require hard work, persistence and commitment. Nothing worth accomplishing is fast, free or easy.
# 3 No self-respecting pitcher throws the same way to every batter, and no self-respecting salesman makes the same pitch to every client.
You must tailor your presentation to each client. Each person is different and unique. Find out what their hot button and needs are and then adjust your presentation accordingly.
# 4 My cup sales kept growing as I learned how to plan my work and work my plan. My confidence grew at the same rate. I found that my customers appreciated a straightforward approach. They would buy if I made my pitch and asked for their order without a lot of beating around the bush. Too many salesmen, I found, would make a good presentation and convince the client, but they couldn’t recognize that critical moment when they should have stopped talking.
Plan your work and work your plan. When you talk with prospects, avoid hype and bullshit. Be direct and to the point. No when to shut up and ask for the sale.
# 5 My philosophy was one of helping my customer, and if I couldn’t sell him by helping him improve his own sales, I felt I wasn’t doing my job.
Focus on creating win-win deals with your clients. Help other people get what they want and you will naturally get what you want.
# 6 One man’s famine makes another man’s feast, and it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good and all that.
Opportunity knocks! Always keep an open mind and look for possibilities.
# 7 I spent less and less time chasing pushcart vendors around the West Side and more time cultivating large accounts where big turnover would automatically winch in sales in the thousands and hundreds of thousands.
Focus on landing bigger accounts. It makes sense to target people and businesses who can purchase a lot of whatever it is you are selling. It’s better to have one customer who orders 100 of your products than 100 customers who each order one product.
# 8 I was looking forward to work that offered something more than money, something I could really get involved in.
Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life. Money is important, but you also need meaning and satisfaction in your work.
# 9 The first thing you have to sell is yourself.
People buy people, not what you are selling. Always make a good first impression. Learn how to become more likeable. People want to do business with people they like, know and trust.
# 10 There’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.
Decide what you want and then go after it like your life depends upon it.
# 11 But, you have to take risks, and in some cases you must go for broke. If you believe in something, you’ve got to be in it to the ends of your toes. Taking reasonable risks is part of the challenge. It’s the fun.
Take calculated risks. Don’t play it safe your entire life. At some point, you must jump in with both feet and be all in. You can’t half ass your way to success.
# 12 A salesman without a product is like a violinist without a bow.
Find a good product or service you can sell that offers a great value to your customers and great margins for you.
# 13 A good executive does not like mistakes. He will allow his subordinates an honest mistake once in a while, but he will never condone or forgive dishonesty.
We all make mistakes from time to time, but upper management shouldn’t make many mistakes. In addition, your team must have integrity and be honest at all times.
# 14 Our aim, of course, was to insure repeat business based on the system’s reputation rather than on the quality of single store or operator.
# 15 I believe that if you hire a man to do a job, you ought to get out of the way and let him do it.
Do not micro-manage people that you hire. Make sure they have the authority and resources they need to succeed and then stay out of their way.
# 16 People have marveled at the fact that I didn’t start McDonald’s until I was fifty-two years old, and then I became a success overnight. But I was just like a lot of show business personalities who work away quietly at their craft for years, and then, suddenly, they get the right break and make it big. I was an overnight success all right, but thirty years is a long, long night.
There is no such thing as overnight success. There is always a story behind the story. Most successful people have paid their dues and gone through years of struggle to make it to the top.
# 17 You must perfect every fundamental of your business if you expect it to perform well.
Take each part of your business and master it. Always look for ways to improve.
# 18 … Adversity can strengthen you if you have the will to grind it out.
Tough times never last, but tough people do. No matter what you try to accomplish in life, you will face adversities. You must have sticking power and work through it.
# 19 It takes guts and staying power to make it with one of our restaurants.
I would argue that it takes these two things to succeed with any type of business. To me, this is the definition of a true entrepreneur.
# 20 My way of fighting the competition is the positive approach. Stress your own strengths, emphasize quality, service, cleanliness and value, and the competition will wear itself out trying to keep up.
Be so good at what you do that it is difficult for others to keep up with you, or do what you do.
# 21 There are things money can’t buy and hard work can’t win. One of them is happiness.
Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy and you will be.
# 22 It has always been my belief that authority should be placed at the lowest level possible.
Give people authority to make decisions and get the job done.
# 23 I like people who level with me and speak their minds.
Surround yourself with people who are open and honest with you, rather than with people who just tell you what they think you want to hear.
# 24 … you lose a lot of your friends on the way up. It’s lonely on top.
As you climb your way up the latter of success, you will spend more time by yourself. It really can get lonely as you grow in your career. Try to find other successful people to surround yourself with.
# 25 …when times are bad is when you want to build.
When the economy is bad, look for ways to expand and grow your business.
# 26 Usually there’s no reason both sides can’t come out winners and be happy.
Try to make all deals a win-win for everyone involved. Do that and you can’t go wrong.
# 27 I believe that if you think small you’ll stay small.
Think big and act big at all times.
# 28 Money creates problems, and the more you have, the bigger the problems, not the least of which is how to spend it wisely.
More money, more problems.
# 29 I’m impatient. I’m willing to make a few mistakes in order to get things done.
Be a doer and get things done. Nothing will ever be perfect or go exactly as planned. Don’t be scared to fail or mess up. Do not let analysis by paralysis keep you from being successful.
# 30 Many young people emerge from college unprepared to hold down a steady job or to cook or do housework, and it makes them depressed.
In college, you learn theory. Most college professors couldn’t make it in the real world. That’s why they teach instead. I can’t speak for you, but while I was in college I never had one hour of instruction on basic life skills, or how to start a business of my own. You real education begins after college.
# 31 Happiness is not a tangible thing, it’s a byproduct of achievement.
When you are going after your goals and pursuing your dreams, you will naturally be happy.
About Ray Kroc
Ray Kroc was a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was born in 1902. Prior to starting McDonald’s® at the age of 52, he was a successful salesman. Sadly, Ray passed away in 1984 of heart failure. He was 81 years old.
McDonald’s was first started in 1940 by the McDonald brothers in California. It became McDonald’s® corporation in 1955 when Ray Kroc decided to franchise the concept. 2015 sales were approximately $25 billion. As of 2015, there were more than 35,000 locations and 420,000 people employed by the company. McDonald’s is listed on the New York Stock Exchange® as MCD.
About the Book “Grinding it Out”
The ISBN is 978-1250130280. The book was published in August 2016 by St. Martins Paperbacks. It features 256 pages and comes in softcover and Kindle® format. As of October 2016 it has 107 reviews on Amazon.com® with an average 4.5-star rating.
Buy the Book
The book is available anywhere books are sold, but you can get a copy here on Amazon for the best price.
In review, these are 31 Ray Kroc business lessons, all from his book “Grinding it Out.” I hope you learned something from each lesson, and can find a way to apply it in your own business.
What are your thoughts? What is your favorite quote from this post and why? Leave a comment below to share your opinion. I look forward to hearing from you.