Dave Thomas was an orphan. Growing up, eating hamburgers in restaurants was the only thing that gave him a sense of belonging and purpose. When he was 8-years-old, he set out a plan to open the best restaurant in the world and later founded Wendy’s.
But even at an early age Dave knew that in order to grow a successful business, he was prepared to learn everything about the business from the ground up.
15 year old Dave started as a busboy at a Hobby House Restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana where a guy named Cornel Sanders was touring the country, trying to convince restaurant owners into converting their buildings into Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises.
Thomas’ boss, Hobby House owner Phil Clauss, was one of those restaurant owners. Hobby House became Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Thomas became one of KFC’s first cooks.
A new waitress, Lorraine Buskirk, caught his eye and they were soon married in 1954.
Dave and his wife Lorraine grew their family to include five children – Pam, Ken, Lori, Molly and Melinda (Wendy was her nickname and who Dave named the business after). All the while, Dave worked toward his goal of owning his own restaurant.
He was pivotal in helping grow KFC. He simplified the menu and came up with the classic rotating red bucket sign. Thomas also convinced the colonel to appear in TV ads for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Thomas’ success eventually enabled him to sell his stake in the four franchises back to the colonel, for $1.5 million. He used the money to open his first Wendy’s and became multimillionaire by the age of 35.
Today there are 6,900 restaurants worldwide.
Dave Thomas passed away in 2002 with a net worth of $4.2 billion. Dave wins.
Holy S@#$ LEGO Has Sold Over 400 Billion Plastic Bricks?
Having sold over 400 billion plastic bricks worldwide (75 billion annually), LEGO is easily the most popular and best-selling toys on the planet. It also holds the title one of the most painful things you can step on in bare feet…
But few people today know just how insanely unlikely the founder was to succeed against the series of tragedies that plagued his pursuit to success.
As successful as they are today, LEGO’s history is one of unexpected misfortune. Here’s why…
The Tragic Beginning of the World’s Most Successful Toy
In 1916, Ole Kirk Christiansen was an independent carpenter who primarily built wood furniture and home goods. He purchased a workshop in Billund, Denmark, that would ultimately become the birthplace of LEGO. He immediately faced a number of setbacks and tragedies during his first years in business:
His workshop burned down in 1924 after his sons accidentally set fire to it (losing all the inventory)
He (and the world) was hit hard during the Great Depression from 1929-1939
Effectively erasing any demand for furniture and toys for an entire decade. It wouldn’t see consumer discretionary spending increase until after ww2 ended in 1945.
But Wait, There’s More…
His wife passed away in 1932 leaving him alone to fend for himself and his kids
With the economy in shambles, he was forced to lay off half of his employees.
To stay afloat, Christiansen began carving cheap wooden trinkets, eventually landing a wheeled duck that became the company’s first popular toy.
But he still wasn’t generating enough sales to pay the mounting bills he owed. Christinasen’s brothers had to bail him out to save him from bankruptcy.
He Had to Beg His Family For Cash to Avoid Bankruptcy
Ole’s brothers agreed to bail him out on the condition that he stop making toys and turn his skills to a more practical profession.
But Ole refused to give up his passion of making innovative toys. So he changed the name of his workshop to LEGO (derived the Danish phrase leg godt, or “play well”).
Plot twist, his shop burned down for the second time…
Still unwilling to give up on his dream of breaking into the toy market, it was in this moment where Ole said: “Fuck wood! I’m moving to plastics!”…That’s not a real quote but you know he thought it.
Is This Why LEGO Went From Making Wood Toys to Plastics?
Because when Ole rebuilt his factory for the 3rd time, he turned his attention to making plastic toys (which was a brand new thing at the time).
During the 40s, plastic injection molding machines were introduced into the toy market to mass produce toys. But they were hella expensive. Buying one with the lack of much if any funds, would be a major risk.
He did it anyways…
The early toys included the Ferguson tractor, a plastic vehicle available as either a finished model or a buildable set that could be taken apart and put back together, (which later became the core feature of LEGO products).
How Lego Was Invented. After a 39 Year Struggle!
It wasn’t long before the idea of bricks to assemble a small house in the form of building blocks was invented. They designed literal plastic bricks that clipped together.
He patented the design and they released its first set, the LEGO System of Play – in 1955. 39 years after starting his toy business.
In the beginning of LEGO’s growth, they were still selling both wood and plastic LEGO toys (even though LEGO sales were much higher by this time).
But Then His Factory Burned Down Again…
Then, a lightning strike to the workshop caused a fire to burn down the entire workshop for the 3rd time. He rebuilt it again but decided this time, to switch the operations entirely to plastics.
Which turned out to be a good call…
Fast forward to today, the LEGO brand as of 2021 was up 27% (that’s a whopping $8B in sales) compared to the previous two years with $55.3 billion in revenue. The company saw massive gains during the pandemic as consumers of all ages looked for new ways to entertain themselves at home.
Which is pretty impressive growth for a company that for the most part, shouldn’t still be standing.
According to the Wallstreeet Journal reported today, Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke says company made wrong bet on pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce growth.
The main reason for the layoffs was rapid hiring to accommodate increased ecommerce shopping trends.
Basically, Shopify was betting on that the rapid Covid-era lock downs would increase in ecommerce shopping would continue as a trend, hastening a greater adoption of online shopping.
That didn’t happen…At least not for Shopify.
What is Shopify?
Based in Ottawa, Canada, Shopify is an e-commerce service that allows merchants to quickly build and customize websites for selling products online. In addition to plan fees, Shopify makes its money in part by taking a percentage of customer transactions. In short, they are a platform that enables users to create drop shipping sites.
Did you know that the $14 billion Nordstrom chain stores were started by a sixteen year old who fled to America with only $5.00 (roughly $119.00 in today’s currency) in his pocket?
His name was John W. Nordstrom, who’s dad died when he was eight. In need of money John fled his home at 16 and emigrated to New York City in 1887.
Nordstom Did a Series of Back Breaking Jobs Just to Get By….
John labored in mines and logging camps for years as he crossed the country to California and Washington. In 1897, he headed north to Alaska and the Klondike in search of gold. Two years later, he returned to Seattle with a $13,000 in Alaskan gold ready to make his next move.
Nordstrom partnered up with business partner Carl F. Wallin, a Seattle shoemaker Nordstrom had met in Alaska. Wallin offered him a partnership in a shoe store with zero retail experience. In 1901, the gold rush veterans had opened their first store, Wallin & Nordstrom, on Fourth and Pike in Seattle.
Then Nordstrom’s Son Scaled the Family Business into an Empire…
Nordstrom’s sons took over in 1928. By 1960, two stores had grown into eight. The Seattle flagship was the largest shoe store in the country, and Wallin & Nordstrom became the nation’s largest independent shoe chain.
Under a third generation of Nordstrom sons, Nordstrom, Inc. entered into new markets well beyond Seattle. Clothing was added to the shelves in the 1960s and the company was renamed Nordstrom Best in 1969. In 1971, the company went public with its first stock offering and by 1973, Nordstrom Best formally changed its name to Nordstrom
Today, Nordstrom is doing $14.79 billion in revenue. The family still runs the chain of 247 rack stores across 40 states from their headquarters in Seattle.
Turns out, pretty rich actually. But how much money are we talking about?
For starters, according to a study, becoming a professional YouTuber has officially become the most desirable jobs on the planet.
Which makes sense given some of the biggest YouTubers are generating more money than professional athletes.
The amount of money they are generating is pretty crazy. Here are some of the top content creators on YouTube with the highest earnings.
These Top YouTubers Are Making How Much Money?
Ryan’s World — $22 million
Jake Paul – $21.5 million
Dude Perfect – $20 million
Daniel Middleton (DanTDM) – $18.5 million
Jeffree Star – $18 million
Mark Fischbach (Markiplier) – $17.5 million
Evan Fong (VanossGaming) – $17 million
Sean McLoughlin (Jacksepticeye) – $16 million
Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) – $15.5 million
Logan Paul – $14.5 million
Which begs the question, how many views do you have to get on your YouTube channel to get a fat paycheck?
How Much Can You Make Off Your YouTube Videos?
YouTubers charge brands anywhere from $10 to $50 per 1,000 views, depending on the estimated amount of total views for the pending video. If the video hits 1 million views, then the YouTuber makes anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.
Crazy right? But there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s the catch…
The Truth About Making Money on YouTube
The vast majority of YouTubers don’t make any money and despite how easy people think it is. Creating a quality YouTube audience and content is a hell of a lot harder than most people think. And it’s only getting harder…
It’s a competitive marketplace. As of 2022, there are more than 51 million YouTube channels out there. The number of channels is growing strong: last year it grew by 36%. People all around the world are creating a YouTube channel, and uploading 500 hours of video every minute.
But obstacles be damned, if you’re up to the task and are interested in cashing in on the billions of people tuning in to watch YouTube videos (and ads), here’s a video that breaks down exactly how to make money using the giant cash printing machine:
The ‘finger-lickin’ good’ chicken has been dominating the American fast food fried chicken for decades after a man named Harland Sanders mastered his 11 herbs and spices recipe. But not many people these days know, that he did it from inside his gas station during the Great Depression.
It started way back in the 1930s when Colonel Sanders, who went by his name Harland Sanders back then was running a gas station in his home town in Kentucky.
Here’s the full story…
From Gas Station to Multi Billion KFC Franchise
Harland was born in 1890 and raised quick on a farm outside Henryville, Indiana. His father died when he was just five years old. The oldest child, Sanders was left to care for his two siblings.
His mother taught him how to cook when he was seven. By 13, Sanders left home to pursue a series of professions including railroad worker and insurance salesman. Neither panned out.
In 1930, he took over a Shell filling station on US Route 25 just outside North Corbin, a small city on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. It was at this gas station when he converted a storeroom into a small eating area using his own dining table, originally serving home cooked meals like steaks, country ham, and fried chicken to his gas station customers. He called his side hustle, Sander’s Café.
Things were going great until one day when became absolutely obsessed with the thought of mass producing fried chicken. Here’s why…
The Simple Invention That Made KFC Immortal
Sanders was supper dissatisfied with the 35 minutes it took to prepare his chicken in an iron frying pan. Time is money and during the Great Depression, his customers couldn’t didn’t have either to spare.
To make matters more complicated, Harlen refused to deep fry. Although a much faster process, in Sanders’ opinion it produced dry and crusty chicken that was unevenly cooked.
The on the other hand, if he prepared the chicken in advance of an order, there was sometimes waste at the end of the day. Then a new product emerged…
In 1939, the first commercial pressure cookers were released, predominantly designed for steaming vegetables. Sanders bought one and modified it into a pressure fryer, which he then used to prepare chicken. The new method reduced his production time to be comparable with deep frying, while simultaneously retained the quality of pan-fried chicken. Now he could prepare high volumes of quality fried chicken at scale.
That is, as long as he could get anyone to buy into the his franchise model.
How Did Harland Sanders Franchise KFC?
In July 1940, Sanders finalized what later became known as his Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Although he never publicly revealed the recipe, he admitted to the use of salt and pepper, and claimed that the ingredients “stand on everybody’s shelf”.
Sanders hit the highways pitching his chicken concept to as many restaurant owners he could meet. Independent restaurant owners would pay four cents on every piece of chicken sold as a franchise fee, in exchange for Sanders’ his recipe and method, and the right to advertise using his name and likeness.
Coined the name “Kentucky Fried Chicken”. Sanders adopted the name because it distinguished his product from the deep-fried “Southern fried chicken” product found in restaurants. Tripling his sales in the first year alone.
That’s when he met Wendy’s future founder Dave Thomas…
The Time Sanders Met the Future Founder of Wendy’s
By 1956, Sanders had six or eight franchisees, including Dave Thomas, who eventually founded the Wendy’s restaurant chain. Thomas developed the rotating red bucket sign, was an early advocate of the take-out concept that Harman had pioneered, and introduced a bookkeeping form that Sanders rolled out across the entire KFC chain. Thomas sold his shares in 1968 for $1 million and became regional manager for all KFC restaurants east of the Mississippi before founding Wendy’s in 1969.
Then, in another random series of cosmic associations, here’s the brief time a serial killer was made a KFC franchise manager at the request of his father in law..
The Time When a Serial Killer Became a KFC Manager…
In the 1960s, John Wayne Gacey was made manager of several Iowa KFC franchises where also around this time and would start his murder spree raping, torturing and murdered at least 33 young men and boys. Gacy regularly performed at children’s hospitals and charitable events as “Pogo the Clown” or “Patches the Clown”, personas he had devised.
There’s currently a documentary that covers the story on Netflix called Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacey Tapes.
It looks absolutely freaking terrifying…
Outside of the documentary, it’s often claimed that Gacy was such a fan of his workplace, he would provide free fried chicken to his colleagues and even insisted on being called the ‘Colonel’.
It would seem his love for the chain continued right up until he was put to death by lethal injection at the age of 52. His last meal request? A bucket of original recipe KFC.
The Fast Rise of the KFC Franchise
In 1960 the company had around 200 franchised restaurants; by 1963 this had grown to over 600, making it the largest fast food operation in the United States. At 73 years old, Harland Sanders sold KFC for $2 million in 1964 ($17.5 million in today’s dollars).
The company went through multiple acquisitions over the years to eventually Pepsico than Yum Brands who still owns and operates the franchise today. Yum Brands operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill.
Today KFC is pulling in $2.793 billion in revenue with 22,621 locations across 150 countries. And it all started in a gas station in Kentucky…
Jan Koum is a Ukrainian-American billionaire businessman and computer engineer. He’s the co-founder and former CEO of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app that was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for an absolutely mind boggling $19.3 billion.
Facebook paid $12 billion in stock and the rest in cash. What’s even more badass than the exit was the fact that Koum arranged for the $19 billion deal to be signed at the same welfare center he used to collect his welfare checks in his teens. Only this time, he drove there in his Porsche.
Jan moved to California from Ukraine when he was 16. As a young immigrant, Koum and his mother had to rely on food stamps. Koum became interested in programming and eventually landed a job at Yahoo! Where he worked for 9 years.
Then in January 2009, Koum bought an iPhone and realized that the then seven-month-old App Store was about to spawn a whole new industry for app creators.
WhatsApp was initially unpopular, but it quickly became one of the fastest growing apps on the market. WhatsApp allows user to send messages, images, audio or video at a cost significantly less than texting.
The app gained a large user base. So large Facebook was monitoring the app for years obsessively. They were paranoid WhatsApp could eventually be a Facebook killer.
The video conference app (Zoom) that brought the world together during COVID was invented by a guy named Eric Yan who built it to video call his girlfriend.
Here’s how it happened…
Who Invented Zoom?
Eric Yuan is the Founder and CEO of Zoom. He was born and raised in Tai’an, Shandong Province, China.
Eric had been inspired to find a solution to visit his girlfriend, so he developed a piece of video telephone software in 1987. A decade later, Eric moved to San Francisco and was one of the first 20 hires on the WebEx team. In fact, Eric was one of the founding engineers and proved crucial to the success of its online meetings product.
Ouch. Cisco Turned it Down?
WebEx was acquired by security and networking giant, Cisco, in 2007 for $3.2 billion. Under Cisco’s new ownership Eric became Cisco’s VP of engineering. At Cisco, Eric pitched them his original idea for a mobile-friendly video system. They turned it down…
This mobile friendly video system is what became Zoom.
They Couldn’t Have Gone Public at a Better Time…
In April 2019, Zoom went public. Zoom stock shot above its $36 IPO price almost immediately and peaked at $104.49 in mid-2019.
In early 2020, the world was rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of people forced to work from home. In March, Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times in just one day.
Today, Zoom has some staggering usage stats with over 300 million daily meeting participants and 3.5 trillion annual meeting minutes,
Thanks to Eric’s girlfriend in 1987, Zoom has become the world’s biggest video conferencing giant.