I finally relegated myself to checking out the movie Founder (2016) starring Michael Keaton (as Ray Kroc).
I rarely can pause to watch anything; to be inert long enough to sit and watch; passively watch — to just idly watch autobiographical recounts, the replay of another’s life, on screen.
Yeah, I know, sounds like I’m envious of past success or something… but, nah, it’s more like I see life as short; I mostly lean toward my own activity.
Well okay, okay.. if there’s a docuseries that’s done right (with a value put on accuracy and fidelity in reporting) I might every now and then be willing to chill long enough to live vivaciously through a legend (say, like the silk-robed Casanova).
A friend of mine challenged me to watch Founder, not because he thought I needed the inspiration; only because he wanted to hear about my eye-rolling when I see how “leftist Hollywood” would portray Mr. Ray Kroc.
Like I need another good reason to rant (nada).
“So why not,” I told him, “I’ll give it a shot. I can’t wait to see if they make Kroc out to be some kind of idea raider or something.’
While watching it, I thought a few times, I’m coming pretty close to the prediction.
The movie version of the true account of somebody’s else reality is often sensationalized for ‘entertainment purposes.’ Founder is no different!
An excerpt of one of the official descriptions online about the movie is:
“Kroc soon maneuvers himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a multi-billion dollar empire.”
The shaming-of-success undertone of the this 2016 movie recount of Kroc is already evident.
“pull the company from the brothers…”
Yeaah… even if you were a caveman (woman), knowing nothing about nothin’, already you’re thinking, “Bad, bad, bad Leroy Brown; baddest business man in the whole damn town.”
And, to the easily-programmed (i.e., not critical-thinking) mind, the movie could seep in the perception of Ray Kroc as being an earlier bastion of some kind of ruthless, self-serving leech and vulture.
Eat your heart out Gordon Gecko!
A typical online comment to edify that:
“What I basically learned from this movie is that Mcdonalds started as a typical American dream, two brothers in the spirit of competition build a fast food restaurant from nothing, revolutionize the food industry without realizing it, only to have it stolen by a capitalist vulture franchise manager who backstabbed them and took over their company, to which they received a small sum and absolutely no royalties.”
A scene in the movie even shows one of the McDonald brothers suggesting Ray is full of “bluster” (he was) and “all bark, no bite” (he wasn’t — he certainly knew when to bite, as needed).
Then again, you have to accept (like I have) that very few overly-sensitive / consumed types rarely build business beyond themselves.
Dan Kennedy (famed marketing guru) once said something to the affect of how we can either learn to get good at promoting a grander vision (if we have one), honor impassioned salesmanship, or we can view it as crass and beneath ourselves… while sitting around complaining about the movers and shakers.
In this interview with the author of Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away, Lisa Napoli points out that the brothers…
“were ambitious enough, but they weren’t hyper ambitious to dominate the world.”
Oftentimes in business, there’s these epiphany moments for the visionary. It’s the curse of the abstractness and depth of the broad Forrest. We see something grander out there; yet oftentimes can’t figure out the best way to make it a clear operating reality.
Ray Kroc had that pivotal moment.
He was determined to make his vision (for expanded automation & fast-food consistency into thousands of locations) work.
(Interestingly, by the way, a vision synced to Dick McDonald’s — i.e., his dream to see his “golden arches span across the United States).
Yet, the grandest Achilles heel to a dream is FEAR and CONTROL combined.
It is, often, what entrepreneurs of an original brand or concept aren’t aware is occurring in their psyche.
Most ARE excited about the prospects for growth, yet simultaneously afraid to relinquish enough control to gel with a driver to come in and chart a new route.
That is what they (in Dick McDonald’s broken-record words) “signed a contract” to let Ray do.
Yet, like Dick, I’ve also had to wrestle with having another’s ideas and initiatives not be Barry-checked 100% of the way.
Thankfuly, I’ve learned to catch that in action before incredibly-valuable talent gets stifled by my own interest in control.
So, bottom-line, the only thing that was really in the way for Mr. Kroc was the very people that admired is grove and grit to make shit happen.
In a moment of serendipity, a one Harry J. Sonneborn overhears Kroc telling his banker he is getting low on cash-flow.
Harry, ever the opportunist and natural problem-solver he is, tells Ray he should be making more more — much more money with his new restaurant franchisees.
After Harry is invited by Ray to look at the ledger, the resulting problem is determine to not to be about burgers, but a real-estate issue all together.
It’s summarized by Sonneborn (played buy E.J. Novak) like this:
When I see comments like this online…
“…stolen by a capitalist vulture franchise manager who backstabbed them..”
.. I usually just tell myself not to sweat the socialist or capitalist-shaming nonsense. That it’s few and far between.
I’m psyching myself up to believe — to be real… hope and pray — that the there’s only a small sect of people who shun grit, hustle and the need for tough-love-decisions when warranted.
And, in the end, I wonder if the person who made the comment above can actually process this truth:
Dick and Mac McDonald retired very wealthy and happy men for the arrangement they made in a consensual state of understanding and mutual-agreement.
Yet, the movie fuels Social Justice Warriors beliefs (fun facetious take on SJWs here…) that the only way to get ahead is to cut down another.
As if the ambitions of a man like Mr. Kroc’s can’t be achieved without trampling on the ambitions or rights of others.
Back over to Lisa Napoli:
“That’s the essential falsehood in the movie. The brothers did get a percentage of the profits. The original deal was 1.9 percent of a franchisee’s profits. It went to the McDonald’s Corporation and 0.5 percent of that went to Dick and Mac McDonald. The falsehood in the movie is that Ray screwed the brothers out of that half a percent. Basically what happened was Ray and the brothers were at odds. He went to them and said, look, what is it going to take to make you go away? They said….[ continue here.. or.. watch Founders ]
Alright, dats enough haphazard thoughts about the liberal-media / socialist bent on the movie Founder.
Until next time…
Keep the vision clear, the course straight, and stamina to stay BOLD!
“Fortune crowns the bold before the worthy”
― Agona Apell, The Success Genome Unravelled: Turning Men from Rot to Rock
Update: A day after I wrote the above, I found this interesting 5-minute interview with the Grandson of Dick McDonald.
The interviewer asks him, ‘Did your grandfather ever mention Ray Kroc to you?”
“Not really. Ray Kroc was kind of a touchy subject. He worked with Ray for years and they had a great relationship… up until the very end.”
Ah well.. such is life in the world of big time bidness ;;)