Yesterday, I read this story from Linda Protor’s book “Does your DNA Create Wealth?”.
In 1925 there was a man in Indianapolis, Indiana (I landed in Indiana when I first came to the U.S.) by the name of Herman Krannert, an executive of the Sefton container Company. One day he was summoned to Chicago to have lunch with the president of the company.
Krannert was very excited as he had never been invited to have lunch with the president before. So he went to Chicago and met the president at a private club and while they were having lunch, the president said, “Herman, I am going to make an announcement to the company this afternoon that greatly impacts your life. We are going to promote you to senior executive vice-president and you are to be the newest member of the Board of Directors.”
Krannert was blown away. He said, “Mr. President, I had no idea I was even being considered for this. I want you to know I’ll be the most loyal employee this company has ever had. I am going to dedicate my life to making this the finest corporation in America.”
The president was gratified by this and said, “You know, Herman, I am glad you mentioned that because there is one thing I would like you to remember. As a member of the Board of Directors you will vote exactly the way I tell you to.”
That took the wind out of Krannert’s sails, and he said he wasn’t sure he could do that.
“Come on Herman, that is the way it is in the business world. I am putting you on the Board of Directors. You will do that I tell you. Right?”
The more Krannert thought about it, the angrier he became. At the end of lunch he stood up and said, “Mr. President, I need you to understand I cannot accept this promotion. I will not be a puppet for anybody on a Board of Directors.” Then he added, “Not only that, but I won’t work for a company where such demands are made. I quit.”
He came back to Indianapolis that night, approached his wife, and said, “You’ll be excited to know that today I was promoted to senior executive vice-president, made a member of the Board of Directors, and I quit.”
She said, “You quit? Have you lost your mind?”
However, when he told her what I had happened, she was very supportive and said, “Well I guess we’ll have to find something else.”
A few nights later a knock came at his door. Six senior executive from his company burst through the door, all excited. “Herman, we heard what happened the other day. We think that’s the greatest thing we have ever heard. I fact, we quit too.”
“What do you mean, you quit too?” he said.
“Yeah, we quit too, and here’s the good news. We’re going to go to work for you!”
“How are you going to work for me?” I don’t even have a job.”
They said, “Oh, we figure you’ll find something, and when you do we’re going to work for you.”
That night those seven people sat down at Herman Krannert’s dining room table and created the Inland Container Corporation. That empire exists today because a guy in 1925 knew what he believed in and decided to take a risk.
Think About This
If you were Krannert, would you say no to the president?
P.S. The that I went to was named after this gentleman, Herman Krannert.
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