the founder — 3 insanely accurate lessons which the movie teaches us, and 3 myths it destroys

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the founder

I will be honest here: Before I entered the theater to watch The Founder movie, I was pretty skeptical on expectations. Hollywood treats entrepreneur’s stories only two ways: Either like a fantasy with all that glitz and chutzpah with million dollars falling down the lap or like a plain stupid documentary.

But what happened in the next 115 minutes left me stumped, in awe. The popcorn which I had bought was left as it is, as the movie completely transfixed me, commanding over my senses and taking me to a world where a 54 year old failed entrepreneur creates a $37 billion food empire with only one quality: persistence.

If you are that person who is full of dreams, aspirations, but without much success to talk about and still refusing to give-up, then The Founder will work like a cheatbook for you; like a blueprint of success and determination.

The movie is about Ray Kroc, a failed entrepreneur who joins McDonald’s founders Richard and Maurice McDonald for expanding their franchisee. Gradually, Roy takes over the company, buys out Richard and Maurice McDonald’s shares, and becomes the actual ‘Founder’ of the company, taking it to new heights of success and growth.

It is a movie of deception, of dreams, of insane passion and determination. Depending on your perspective, the movie can be classified as a melo-drama, a biographical account of an entrepreneur, or simply a story about how McDonald’s became McDonald’s.

Here are 3 incredibly accurate lessons which the movie teaches all entrepreneurs, and 3 myths which it destroys once for all..

Lessons:

  • Motivation: One of the most impactful and unforgettable dialogue which the protagonist says in between is: A man becomes what he thinks whole day, every moment of his living life.As per some sources, it’s a quote by Thomas Edison, but that is not the point here.  Ray Kroc, played magnificently by Michael Keaton, is actually seen struggling from the first reel. He is seen listening to motivational records by Dr. Floyd Nelson, and constantly reminding himself that all he needs is one hit. He refuses to accept realities, and like a possessed person, continues to drill holes in the destiny for extracting his success. In terms of motivation, the most valuable lesson which the movie teaches is that, you need it for protecting your dream. Getting discouraged is easy, but standing tall, and adamant for success is difficult. And motivation empowers you for the same. Find what motivates you, and stick to it until your mission is executed.
  • Destruction: If the situation requires, then don’t be shy of destructing everything to build from scratch. Demolition is, sometimes, more important than creation, and the movie proves it. The foundation of McDonald’s success was the revolutionary process devised by Richard and Maurice McDonald, and in order to achieve that, they had to literally destroy their existing business, and then formulate a new plan which was quicker, and more efficient. This teaches us the lesson that destruction is not that bad, if it serves a purpose. And being an entrepreneur, it’s your job to find that purpose. I actually had a completely new viewpoint about destruction after watching this movie!
  • Persistence: The movie proves that idea is overrated, education is a myth and talent is a mirage. The only thing which actually matters is persistence and determination. In the initial moments, Roy is seen working as a traveling salesman, selling milkshake makers to fast food joints. No, he is not able to sell a great deal of them, but still, he persists, and despite failures, the actual trigger comes when he meets the founders of McDonald’s, all because of his sheer persistence. After meeting them, he tries to convince them to expand their food chain via franchisee model, and they refuse because he had experienced failure earlier. But still, he persists, he gives them the dream of ‘Golden Arches’ all over America, and by describing McDonald’s as the new church. It was solely due to persistence that Roy was able to make his way up to the top, and neither talent nor education or idea worked here. Hit the rock hard with persistence, and the winner shall be carved.

Myths:

  • Age: If nothing else, the movie teaches that age is just a number. Roy was 54 years old when he joined McDonald’s as a manager. When there is determination and persistence, then age actually converts into another number, nothing more. When you a person with an idea that now it is too late, ask him or her to watch The Founder. The myth of age is broken here.
  • Team: Another myth which The Founder destroys is the need for team. If you think that you can work alone to create the next billion dollar business empire, then you are mightily wrong. Surround yourself with a good team, because the entrepreneur needs to delegate, needs to outsource and needs support. In the movie, Roy has that amazing ability to form passionate teams, and one of the strategies he uses is hiring both husband and wife for the job. He is seen giving inspirational speeches all across America to find that magical team, and gradually, working in McDonald’s becomes a thing of prestige.
  • Money: And, the biggest myth which the movie destroys is about money. No, entrepreneurship is not simply about money or the riches; but rather, it is about that vision, that plan, that dream. In the movie, Roy is seen living in that same apartment where he lived earlier, even after becoming a billionaire. No where in the movie we can see money as a tool for motivation (unlike other entrepreneurial movies like Wolf of Wall Street); but rather it is more like the movie Pursuit of Happyness where the main objective of the protagonist is to survive by protecting the dream. And, as they say, money is just a  byproduct of that effort.

The Founder doesn’t provide a ‘romanticized’ version of entrepreneurship, but rather, it showcases the actual reality – the heartbreaks, the struggle, the fight, the deception and the dream.

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