Colonel Sander's Message

  • Editorials
Yunji Chae ('27)

       Colonel Sanders was born in Henryville, Indiana, in 1890. His father, Wilbert Sanders, passed away when he was only 5. Therefore, starting from an early age, Sanders had to become the breadwinner of the family by cooking, working regularly, and farming. In seventh grade, Sanders dropped out of school after getting into conflicts with his step-father, and left home to stay at the farm he was working at. At the age of 16, he falsified his age to join the United States army as a wagoner in Cuba. Afterwards, he went back to work on numerous other jobs but was eventually fired for every single one of them. Then, he studied law for 3 years. However, his legal career ended after he got into a courtroom brawl with his client and destroyed his reputation. He married at the age of 18 but divorced 2 years later. As his failures kept piling up, Sanders couldn’t figure out how to make ends meet.He had nothing - no money, no authority, not even a family. 


       Feeling like a total failure, Sanders decided to put an end to his troubles and his life after writing his will. Instead of venting about his failures, however, he decided to reflect on what he would want to accomplish if he had the opportunity to start over. As he wrote, he figured out that he was happiest when he was cooking and taking care of his family. In his old days, Sanders held a lot of jobs, being an insurance salesman, steam engine stoker, and filling station operator. He had also worked in a roadside-restaurant which enabled him to discover a ‘secret recipe’. After retiring at the age of 65, Sanders borrowed $87 from the bank to purchase a fryer and ingredients for his unique recipe. He traveled all over the country to sell his recipe to restaurants. Selling door to door, he got rejected 1009 times, but the 1010th restaurant accepted his offer, leading to the birth of KFC. His first franchise opened in South Salt Lake, Utah.  Afterwards, many franchises approached him, wanting to work under his successful business. KFC went public in 1966 and got listed in New York Stock in 1969. Day by day companies wanted to accompany KFC. The chicken store increased and developed from Heublein Inc. corporation for $285 million to $840 million with Pepsico.Inc.  At the age of 88, Colonel Sanders became a multi-billionaire, while KFC became the second largest food empire. Now, the fast-food chain has 25000 stores in 145 countries. 


       The story of Colonel Sanders shows us that the only way we can fail is by giving up. His story reminds us that regardless of your age, it is never too early or late to chase your dreams. His story highlights the difficult times he went through as a child and as an adult : family’s history, poor life, many jobs and failing.  Despite his failures, he turned them into opportunities for example , even when he started off on his path to becoming a lawyer, he lost it. Yet, he made the failures into opportunities to succeed as failing in becoming a lawyer but succeeding in becoming a business-man. 


As Colonel Sanders himself claimed, 

“One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.” 




7 success lessons from Colonel Sanders. (2021, June 3). Wealthy Gorilla.


Heasman, C. (2021, June 3). The tragic, real-life story of Colonel Sanders.


Writes, S. (2021, August 6). The tragic life and struggles of Colonel Sanders. Medium.


Job search | Hourly job postings | Snagajob. (n.d.). Search for Hourly Jobs & Essential Jobs on Snagajob.


Our favorite Colonel Sanders quotes. (n.d.).

Plante, C. (2016, July 5). The real story of Colonel Sanders is far crazier than this bland inspirational meme. The Verge.

KFC. (2017, June 15). Wikipedia. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

The truth about KFC success story. (2019, July 7). Brand Riddle.

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