With today’s advent of social media, it’s easy to marvel at a snazzy new product and an accompanying success story via your Ipad. What news today (and arguably since it began as a phenomenon) often fails to convey, is the frequently long journey someone took to the point of breakthrough. And while most of us expect success to predominate within a certain, typically younger demographic, some of the world’ most iconic brands had their manifestation in the aspirations of people over sixty.
When next you’re standing in a queue at KFC, remember that Harland Sanders, the original Colonel Sanders who brought KFC to the world, only saw his vision of a franchised restaurant chain realised at the age of sixty-two, with the opening of the first such outlet in Utah. From a farmhand and steam train worker to the smiling face on the family bucket, years of travail preceded Sanders’ ultimate success. Traveling America, often sleeping in his car, and cooking up KFC wherever he found a receptive restaurant facility eventually paid off, but only after decades. It took an older Sanders’ savvy and experience to make him articulate the potential he knew he had in his product.
Bringing it closer to home, even your home, it’s seldom appreciated that Thomas Edison, without whom the world would not look the way it does today, spent his early life working as a telegraph operator. It really took the distillation of wisdom only age can induce for him to become one of the greatest and most admired Americans of all time. Particularly in the case of Edison, where a dogged persistence was clearly necessary in pursuing the creation of a feasible filament for use in an electric light bulb, the intrinsic value in us aging shouts out to be heard. The presumption often prevalent among us that ‘old equals tired’ is actually quite nonsensical when openly examined. Far from becoming stultified, it follows that it’s precisely the accumulation of years of experience and knowledge that can enable a person to achieve mighty success on many fronts later in life.
If there’s any doubt on the issue, the clincher must surely be Ray Kroc. Working his entire life as a milkshake machine salesman, he only bought the McDonald’s name when in his fifties and the true roll-out of the golden arches we know from all over the world today started to happen when Kroc was well into his sixties. It’s hard to imagine a greater success story from the ranks of the over-sixties, as McDonald’s is the largest international fast-food chain on the planet.
The world’s fascination and appreciation of youth may be well founded and a basic human aesthetic, if not even a biological imperative to some extent, but giants over sixty who have made a massive mark in life abound and put the lie to any notion that life needs to taper off or, indeed, end in some way, over sixty years of age. Far from it!
Date Published: 19 July 2017
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