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Mcdonald's History Is Not As Clean As What You Imagine
[Image: 20170116135354-founder-still-michael-keaton-lg.jpeg]

"Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent," is a theme so central to The Founder that director John Lee Hancock uses it twice in his new, thought-provoking movie about Ray Kroc that opens nationwide Jan. 20.
Kroc, of course, was hardly unsuccessful -- he was the architect of the McDonald's empire -- some 36,615 restaurants in 118 countries at last count. What Kroc most definitely was not, however, was McDonald's founder.
Rather, he was a self-made entrepreneur who saw an opportunity for wealth and power and zestfully seized it, ethics and integrity be damned. In a nutshell, the story ("based on a true story") is this: In 1954, Kroc, a failing milkshake machine salesman, was a 52-year-old guy wandering the desert, literally, driving across huge swaths of the American Midwest and West, looking for a lucky strike. It came in the form of two well-meaning but not particularly business-savvy brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, and their walk-up hamburger stand in San Bernardino, Calif.
The stand had reached such success that the brothers had ordered an unheard-of eight milkshake machines from Kroc's company.
Kroc made a beeline to California to sniff out the reasons behind that success, and discovered the brothers' pared-down menu -- hamburgers, condiments ("two pickles, shot of ketchup"), fries, sodas and shakes, plus the "Speedee System" -- a burger assembly method the brothers had devised to deliver meals in under 30 seconds. Gone were the features sucking up revenue at America's then-iconic drive-ins: parking lots, carhops, long waits and multiple-item menus.
Did somebody say McDonald's? Customers couldn't get enough of the new model's fare. Nor could Kroc (Michael Keaton), whose character evolves from aggressive entrepreneur to unscrupulous corporate thief as he turns from just franchising new outlets for the McDonalds to acquiring hundreds of parcels (then, thousands) for himself and collecting lease fees from franchisees.
Entrepreneur spoke to The Founder director Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) for insight on how he approached Kroc's evolution, to a businessman who stole the company out from under the McDonald brothers, then declared himself the company "founder." Here's a partial transcript:
We're all about extoling entrepreneurs here. But the Ray Kroc you present in the film's second half is beyond distasteful. He talks about business being "war" and how, if a competitor were drowning, he'd "put a hose in his mouth." He opens a McDonald's directly across the street from the brothers' restaurant, driving them out of business. He steals a franchisee's wife -- and more.

So, in your mind, is this what real "success" looks like in America? Or, are you more an advocate of the McDonald brothers' style of success, insisting on quality control and slow expansion?
I’m conflicted about Kroc, because as much as I don’t think I would have gone down the same path as him, it’s obvious I wouldn’t have grown the business the way he did and wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. The things I admire about him are, one, he came from nothing. Two, from all reports, everyone who ever met him said he was the hardest-working person they ever met.
So these are all things to admire, and there’s no doubt that it was a very capitalist venture. But so was the McDonald brothers'; the goal for both was to make money, but theirs were different philosophies about how to go about doing it and what their own personal responsibility was.

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