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  • Frank Byrd, CFA

"Overnight" Success

Amen of the Week

This past year I've been inspired to read books by folks who have built great businesses. Last week I began Sam Walton's memoirs, and I was really struck by how he describes his "overnight" success.

“Somehow over the years, folks have gotten the impression that Wal-Mart was something I dreamed up out of the blue as a middle-aged man, and that it was just this great idea that turned into an overnight success. It's true that I was forty-four when we opened our first Wal-Mart in 1962, but the store was totally an outgrowth of everything we'd been doing since Newport... And like most other over-night successes, it was about twenty years in the making.”

- Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart Made in America

This reminded me of a virtually identical statement that I read in Ray Kroc's book last year.

“People have marveled at the fact that I didn’t start McDonald's until I was 52 years old, and then I became a success overnight. But I was just like a lot of show business personalities who work away quietly at their craft for years, and then, suddenly, they get the right break and make it big. I was an overnight success all right, but thirty years is a long, long night.”

- Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's Grinding It Out – The Making of McDonald's

Yours in the Field,

Frank Byrd, CFA


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