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Learn the key ideas of the book by Ray Kroc

Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s

The story of the McDonald’s founder

In 1954 Ray Kroc, the man who “invented McDonald’s”, was 52, and had just signed the contract that would lead him to transform the restaurant industry and become a billionaire. His autobiography, Grinding It Out, is an enlightening lesson on how to become a great salesperson, and how strong will, complete devotion and curiosity are the necessary traits to win in life, even over and above talent.

Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s
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Tenacity, genuine interest and intuition are the acquired powers of a salesman who launched his most lucrative endeavour at 52

Ray Kroc, the man who invented MacDonald’s, was not a young entrepreneur: the journey that led to the creation of his empire began with a contract that he signed at the age of 52. Before then, Kroc was a tireless worker, always on the look-out for a big opportunity: at 17 he sold haberdashery, played the piano “for extra cash”, and was employed by the New York Curb (which later became the American Stock Exchange), where he updated the quotes by writing them up on the black boards. He got his first real job when he was ready to marry Ethel Fleming, because her father expected him to have a stable job before he agreed to grant Kroc his daughter’s hand in marriage. For many years, Ray Kroc’s professional life was selling paper cups and playing the piano, working both day and night. The first lesson that we can learn from him is: never give up.

Kroc’s second best talent was his intuition, fed by an aptitude for observation, stimulated by his insatiable curiosity. He was interested in his customers, in the work that they did, and exactly how they did it, and it was this same attitude that set the mechanism in motion which led to his success. “Being interested” is not an end in itself; it is a trait that leads to having an eye for detail, and to being able to transform information into actions that produce improved results. To improve his ability as a salesman, Kroc analysed his customers’ reactions very carefully; using the information that they provided about their experience, he was able to identify the “critical moment”, the exact moment to stop talking and ask for the order. Many of his colleagues felt they were just as good as him at presenting and convincing a customer of the merits of a product, but none of them recognised this critical moment, when it was time to stop talking and close the deal. When a potential buyer begins to fidget as though they are a bit uncomfortable, they look at their watch and shuffle papers on their desk, it means that they are losing interest, and from that moment on, the chances of selling to them begin to decrease rapidly: at this point, according to Kroc, you need to stop talking and ask for the order.


The key ideas of "Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s"

Tenacity, genuine interest and intuition are the acquired powers of a salesman who launched his most lucrative endeavour at 52
The empirical method is based on observation and implementation, is always valid, and must be applied as often as possible
His Scottish wife’s thriftiness and his own bohemian caution cannot get in the way of their desire to do better: at 35 Kroc invests everything in a new idea
A talented entrepreneur is never satisfied, “he listens to the wind” and knows when it is time to change
Quality, service, cleanliness and good value, as well as relationships with all franchisees to guarantee “uniformity” and add value to the brand
Attention to detail, in every aspect of the business, is a way of creating value
The University of McDonald’s was created in the field, to train employees and support the Research and Development sector for testing its projects
1966 is the year that the company goes public, and they decide to bring tables into the restaurants
If you think small, you stay small: the presence of McDonald’s in the heart of rural America becomes a battlefield for Kroc and his “heir”
Take-home message

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