Life lessons from the ‘Colonel’

Adrianna Mejia

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Life lessons from the ‘Colonel’
Before he invented the “secret recipe” for KFC, Harland Sanders lived a life of multiple jobs, business ventures, and challenges

MANILA, Philippines – How do you like your fried chicken?

Crispy? Juicy? Spicy? So tender it slides from the bones?

One thing’s for sure: the flavor has to be just right. And don’t forget about the gravy: that thick, well-seasoned sauce that you can pour on rice as if it’s soup that can cure any bad day. It makes any day better, really!

Now you know we’re not just talking about any other fried chicken.

Colonel Sanders: The good guy

Some of you might remember a white-haired guy with eyeglasses featured in the KFC logo. He’s a real guy, not just a cartoon that looked good against red, black, and white.

He’s Colonel Harland Sanders, the man behind Kentucky Fried Chicken.


He’s more than just the man who invented KFC’s trademark recipe with 11 secret herbs and spices. Sanders was someone who reached success late in life yet remained easy going and light hearted, no matter what challenge he faced.

He jumped from one job to the next and took on several business ventures until he found success with his “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken at 50 years old. 

The Colonel and I

We all have dreams that we want to pursue, but when we experience obstacles or rejection, it seems easier to give up. We make excuses such as “I’m too old to do this” or “It’s just not for me.”

But Sanders didn’t stop after one door closed. He persisted until he achieved success.

We millennials can learn a thing or two from him. So here’s his story. 

Late bloomer

Harland worked several jobs before he ventured into food – farm hand, streetcar conductor, Army Private in Cuba, blacksmith helper, railyard fireman, salesman and service station operator.

When he was 40 years old, Colonel Sanders opened a roadside diner called “Sanders’ Servistation and Café.” He didn’t have a fixed menu, and based the food he served that day on his family’s meals.

He only started serving fried chicken after moving to another space for his restaurant, which he renamed to “Sanders’ Court and Café.” At the age of 50, he developed his famous secret Original Recipe fried chicken made with 11 secret herbs and spices.

Door to door

After his restaurant closed down, he went around different establishments to cook and serve his chicken himself. In 1952, he sold his first franchise of Kentucky Fried Chicken to Pete Harman, the man who trademarked the tagline “Finger Lickin’ Good.”

One night, he cooked for Pete and his family with the promise that they will eat his fried chicken up to the bones. He also told them that his gravy was really something. With that dinner, Sanders sealed the deal. 

Not an army guy

Though he did have a brief military stint overseas, Sanders wasn’t actually a colonel. The state of Kentucky gave him this honorary title for his contributions to the state’s cuisine. 

Easy going

Sanders became a millionaire when he was 75 years old. In 1965, he received the Horatio Alger Award together with 9 other men who came from humble beginnings and worked their way up to success.

Today, there are over 20,000 KFC outlets around the world. All coming from a man’s will and courage to make something out of himself in spite of the failures he faced throughout his life.

Sanders’ story is not just about the fried chicken and gravy that everyone has grown to love.

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN. The food chain started with a man’s passion for a good home cooked meal and excellent service.

If you need that extra push to get through your day, week, or even life in general, remember the white-haired man who worked relentlessly, never stopping until he achieved success.

The Colonel taught us to dream big and live out whatever passion we have.

We leave you with a quote from Sanders, taken from his autobiography Colonel Harland Sanders: The Original Celebrity Chef:

A man can do as much as he thinks he can do or wants to do. But he mustn’t try to justify his failures by blaming the world for his bad breaks. He mustn’t go around feeling sorry for himself. Makes no matter what a man’s age is, if he has grit and drive and faith, he’ll be all right. That’s the biggest thing of all.” –

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