The 2016 film "The Founder" exposes the iconic Ray Kroc as a ruthless business mogul. His total focus was on his own success.
In terms of his character and entrepreneurial tactics he was as much the anti-hero as Steve Jobs and Roger Ailes.
Sure, they created business empires but in the process hurt so many other human beings. Also, they may have hurt themselves. Jobs died young. Ailes had to part company with Fox News. And Kroc seemed to have a booze problem.
The fact the film hammers is this: Kroc did not found McDonald's. Moreover, he wound up destroying the two brothers who did.
He dumped the spouse who had so loyally supported his chasing of dreams.
And he poached the wife of the man who franchised a McDonald's from him.
No, he couldn't see beyond his hunger for a bigger life than he was leading as a traveling salesperson in the Midwest.
Brilliantly played by Michael Keaton, this depiction of Kroc raises the question: To build a business successful enough to make lots of franchisers and investors wealthy, is it necessary to ignore ethics and human decency?
Along the way, Kroc was also able to afford the kinds of legal talent who could manipulate the law to his advantage.
By time he started playing legal games, he had acquired the wealth to out-lawyer those he needed to control. He knew they didn't have the financial resources to push back. Those victims of the law ranged from his first wife to the real McDonald's founders.
Another question the film raises is if, given a choice, do we want to work with such a blindly self-absorbed striver? Those who stuck with him prospered.
This film is must-viewing in schools of law and business.
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