Few people end up in occupations they envisioned from childhood. In fact, some change their minds after studying for several years in a particular field. Many people make a complete u-turn after studying and pursue a career in an entirely different industry. The founder of KFC, Colonel Harland Sanders, is a perfect example of following various routes before discovering his own niche market.
Army service before choosing occupations
Many young men and women are unsure of the occupations they want to pursue. Enlisting in the U.S. Army is one way to get clarity about the future. This is what a certain Harland Sanders did. However, he was too young, but a falsified birth certificate got him enlisted in 1906. An honorable discharge followed some months of serving in Cuba. Sanders received two commissions as an honorary colonel in 1935 and 1949. He could not have known how embracing this title would affect his future.
Colonel Sanders’ varied list of occupations
If there was one person who had no idea in which direction to go, it was Colonel Sanders. He started as a farmhand but moved on to become a streetcar conductor. From the streetcars, he progressed to railroad companies and spent some time working across the South. At this time, he developed a wish to establish a legal career. After studying law via a correspondence course, he spent some time practicing in Arkansas. However, after a brawl between him and a client in a justice-of-the-peace court, his legal career came to an end.
Once again, the colonel went in an entirely different direction. He pursued a career as a steamboat operator of a ferry between Indiana and Kentucky, crossing the Ohio River. Yet again, this turned out to be another unsatisfactory choice. He tried his hand at selling life insurance, followed by a stint as an automobile tire salesman. Amazingly, Sanders even helped women in his hometown to deliver their babies.
The colonel discovered his culinary skills
During the various jobs Sanders tried, he developed a secret blend of herbs and spices for fried chicken. Furthermore, he discovered that using a pressure cooker makes the process much quicker. He opened a roadside restaurant in Corbin, but his fried chicken was not as successful as he anticipated.
Nevertheless, he remained positive and decided to franchise the restaurant and his secret recipe. He embraced his title as a colonel and donned a string tie with his black frock coat. However, it was not long before he changed his attire to a white suit. The flour stains on his clothes when preparing the chicken were less obvious on the white suit. He grew facial hair to look the part and became Colonel Sanders — the face of KFC.
First KFC franchise opens in Utah
Previously called Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sanders sold the first franchise to a friend in Utah in 1952. At age 65 he started crossing the country to market his franchise and the right to use his secret recipe. By 1964, he decided to sell his company, by which time his marketing helped to establish 600 franchises.
The bottom line
Testing your hand at various occupations is not necessarily wrong. With perseverance, success is possible, even if it takes until you are 65 years old to find your niche in the career market. Colonel Sanders received royalties for each chicken sold, and today KFC is global. At the end of 2019, there were 22,621 KFC stores in 150 countries.