Sleep with One Eye Open

Up until recently, I had thought that the Zuckerberg stint with Facebook was by far the greatest rip-off in business history; a man who practically stole an iconic idea, kicked out the bearers, credited it to himself and then went on to create a multi-billion brand all for himself! Sure, many people share with me the sentiment that he was a je** for flipping against the people who trusted him and hired him; while others might argue that Kudos to him, he saw an opportunity and grabbed it and made the best of it; after all it’s all a matter of perspective! Well if you are or let me rephrase “were” like me then I suggest you reconsider your stand on this point and take a look at the “McDonald’s” story.

As a foodie, I was never interested in their food and I very rarely had it but as a business professional I was always intrigued by their successful business model starting from the real estate part of it, going through the “McCafe” and how they attracted the previous biggest customer base of the likes of “starbucks” which are the mommies and not ending with their most recent foray into the gourmet “burgers”. Having said so, I admit that I had never before known their story or how had they become the biggest burger chain in the world by massive lead on their nearest competitor although he is a king let alone being the largest real estate company in the world as well. Call it “luck” or call it my addiction to movies that led me to watch the recent movie “The Founder”. Over the span of almost 2 hours I sat there mesmerized on how a sales man with a wacky attitude drove for miles and miles and spent years on expanding a brand that 2 “kind hearted” brothers grew by tear and sweat and then had the guts to call himself the creator! The guy was rude enough not to only steal a business but also to dump a loyal and quiet wife and move on to steal his second trophy the wife of one of his “franchisees”! I guess one rip off was just not enough for him.

In the movie, the lead character used a famous tagline “the concept of the egg and the hen” which ironically applies to him as well: did he create the legend of McDonald’s or did McDonalds create him as one of the most notorious business men out there?

The cases of Facebook and McDonald’s are not the only cases, for the late Steve Jobs saw himself kicked out from Apple a few years luckily for him he was persistent enough to come back and take back what was “unrighteously” taken from him. Again, that depends on your perception of things. Things brings us back to an important concept in the movie and in Zuckerberg’s story: “persistence”; in the movie Ray Kroc (impersonated by one of my all-time favorite actors Michael Keaton) attributed his success with McDonald’s to being persistent. Sure enough that man was persistent! Even before he landed with the gem of McDonalds this guy was always persistent. He nagged on and on on every idea he had until he had found his next great idea! Persistence is also what made Zuckerberg hang on till the end that Facebook was his own offspring and he challenged the world with that and eventually won (some might argue that he had enough money to win but that once again is a matter of perception). The mistake that the McDonald’s brothers did and then the Winklevosses followed their lead was being lazy. Sure enough they had a great idea, and sure enough they worked on implementing that idea but they were lazy enough not to follow through till the end. They stopped short of being persistent and of following up till the end; instead they handed out the idea, and the secrets freely to someone else while they went along to do what they were doing. You see, other creators of great ideas, followed through to the end with their ideas and did not trust anyone else; Bill Gates hired people but he shared the same office with them; Jeff Bezos is all about hands-on and Richard Branson started his first business as a one-man show.

A couple of days ago, The Economist magazine posted their quote of the day “If honor were profitable, everyone would be honorable.” Not sure if it signifies that the “end justifies the means” but it seems to perfectly fit both cases above; I’m not saying that everyone else is honorable but I guess they were blunter with it than anyone else. They used to say “if you don’t build your dreams, then someone someday will hire you to build theirs.” Personally, I’d rather put it this way: “if you ever hire someone to build your dreams, you better sleep with one eye open….”

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