This is the story of two different secret formula vendors. You know them both. One is Colonel Sanders, the other is the old country doctor.

Let’s start with the old country doctor since, chronologically, it comes first. It’s a story that happens in a rural Atlanta, Georgia in the 1880’s. The old country doctor hitches up his nag and drives to town, and drops in, as arranged, on Asa Candler, the proprietor of the local drug and sundries store. He hammers down and negotiates a deal, goes back out to his wagon, brings in an old kettle with a stirring spoon and pulls a piece of paper out of his shirt pocket that has a secret formula written on it.

Pause and be reverent before what vision, ambition, and Fate can conspire to do…

  • Thus was made the first sale that was ever made of Coca-Cola.

The old doctor left as soon as good breeding would allow, patted himself on the back, and drove his carriage the three miles down the narrow lane to get home for the evening.

The truth is, the black kettle and the penciled formula, all and everything, would’ve been thrown out as an old man’s debris after he died if he hadn’t pocketed that $500 that night. He might have paid off a few debts, got his wife that new dress she was eying, and treated himself to a bottle of Tennessee whiskey he could nurse over the next year… He was happy – it was a deal they did, right?

The other vendor is Harlan Sanders, known as Col. Sanders, known as the guy who originated Kentucky Fried Chicken. That also is a story of much perseverance, much involvement, much definition of purpose. Impoverished with the collapse of his restaurant – because a new interstate came in and took all his traffic – in 1952 at 62 he decided to take the only thing he had – a recipe for chicken that people liked – value it as an asset, and go out on the road to sell it.

He sold it under a franchise agreement, but that’s a detail… Right now the point I want to note is he stayed in the deal. He, Col. Sanders, became very rich and wealthy because he kept a portion of every chicken that was sold anywhere, anytime, ad infinitum. A whopping 5¢ each. Small but adds up big.

The old country doctor? Lump sum. $500.

Both of these companies, Coca-Cola and the enterprise that runs Kentucky Fried Chicken, banked billions last year. That’s with a “b”, billions. And by the way, did you know there’s more than 999 millions in a single billion?!

Today the family of Col. Sanders is still getting rich. Today, the drug clerk and his heirs are still earning billions… Proves both business ideas were sound. Very sound.

Now let’s look at the two individuals who can rightly be called the progenitors of those products, businesses, and huge, ongoing profits… This is, after all, the story of two different secret formula vendors.

Col. Sanders stayed in the deal, writing in a clause that pays him a modest residual income on every chicken that ever moves through the distribution network he created. He reaped millions during his lifetime, and the business continues worldwide to the tune of billions of dollars annually. His heirs are still cared for in grand style, thank you. He stayed in the deal.

For all the billion$ in blessings Coca-Cola has brought to the drug clerk, Asa Candler, and his family, the nameless old country doctor just got a few bucks.

Both were fair deals. Fairly, honestly, and transparently negotiated, satisfying all parts to the contract.

How are you selling the good in your life?


The Story Of Two Different Secret Formula Vendors by Ted Ciuba,

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