Persevere

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The more you think big, the greater the opportunity for failure. I would hazard a guess and say that everyone who reads this column knows the KFC brand. I never get tired of the history of the man behind this global brand.

Born on a farm in Indiana, Harland David Sanders had to grow up very quickly when his father died. Sanders was five and his mother took a job straight away peeling tomatoes in a canning factory by day and sewing by night to put food on the table.

Young Sanders was forced to look after his siblings and so had to learn how to cook. With the family living in poverty, Sanders left school in sixth grade to get a full time job. He worked as a farmhand until the age of 15.

Lesson: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Poverty was just as sour in 1890s America as it is in 2011 Zimbabwe. The aspirations and challenges are literally the same in concept. The need to make a better life vs the distractions of everyday survival.

Many people will not know that Sanders held various jobs including one which led him to an inventor who discovered how to operate natural gas for lamps.

Sanders bought the patent and launched a manufacturing company which failed because of a rural electrification programme! It does not stop there! While working as a railroad man, he took a correspondence course and qualified as a lawyer.

His legal career came to an abrupt end in less than a decade, when he got involved in a brawl with a client in a court room! At this point, the word favoured by cruel school kids, loser, comes to mind. But we are not done yet.

In 1929, he moved to Corbin, Kentucky, and opened a service station and when tourists kept asking for a place to eat, he opened a restaurant, with no menu but good food. Before long, a respected food critic had given the place good reviews.

It became so popular that the governor of the state made him an honourable Kentucky “colonel” for contribution to state cuisine.

Lesson: Sometimes the answer lies in your childhood. It could be removing a mental block from a painful past to free your soul or rekindling a passion that you once had, but buried when you became somebody’s wife or mother.

I know many talented ex-school boys and girls who gave up promising careers in sport because they had to go to university and get a proper job. Yes, difficult choice.

Our story continues . . . Colonel Sanders buoyed by his success, tried to start a chain in Kentucky two years later and this attempt failed. Another two years later, he opened another restaurant in North Carolina but . . . it failed too! In the meantime, he kept working on perfecting his chicken recipe.

Look, let me cut the story short. You can find the full version on http://www.answers.com/topic/Harland-Sanders the site I am getting this material from.

When the state decided to build a highway that bypassed his service station, the value of his land plummeted and he had to sell to pay off his debts. At age 66, dear Innerzela readers, the twice-decorated Colonel was living on a social security cheque of $105 and some savings.

A total and abject failure!

You cannot blame the man for the various reasons that led to the downfall of his various enterprises and yet . . . and yet, the man still got in to his car, hit the road trying to sell his secret recipe.

He was thrown out of a lot of restaurants but after about a thousand visits in his Ford Mustang, some of them began ordering his seasoning and he started shipping it out to them.

Free at last: By 1960, he had 400 franchises and in 1964, he sold to investors for $2 million, thank you very much! He then concentrated on his charities, adopted 78 foreign children and lived happily ever after.

Sanders did not blame conditions even though I am sure he must have been quite depressed by the hundredth visit. The point is he stuck at it, sometimes sleeping in his car because he was convinced of the quality of his chicken recipe.

There must be one thing that you “know for sure” as Oprah would say. What do you believe in for yourself? Look at Strive Masiyiwa’s tenacity, the doggedness of Tuku (Oliver Mtukudzi) or the stubbornness of Moses Chunga in doing it his way.

What are you convinced of about yourself that trumps the current economic conditions or other obstacles in your journey’s path?

Now: If Makokoba and Mbare represent the oldest townships in Zimbabwe, you will find that Alexandra in Johannesburg has the same status. Guess what?

Famous Brands is the Innscor of South Africa in the fast food business. Last year, they bought 51% of a business called Giramundo.

Here is an excerpt from Franchise News in August last year: “The Giramundo business, which was started by husband and wife team, Buti and Maki Van der Merwe in Alexandra in 2007, currently comprises a retail outlet situated in Bramley, three container outlets in Alexandra, Thembisa and Soweto, and a production facility also situated in Bramley.

The operation produces a range of chicken on the bone and boneless options, including chicken burgers and chicken livers, prepared with Giramundo’s unique peri-peri sauce.” Read about it here: http://allafrica.com/stories/201008100868.html. He has competition, Nandos one kilometre up the road and . . . KFC across the road.

Lesson: Sometimes, preferably not all the time, you have to fail your way to success. Easy to say but the university of life is full of examples all around you today in Zimbabwe. “Light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness.”

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