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Reblogged:A Janitor's Multi-Billion-Dollar Idea

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Via Hacker News, I learned of a story that perfectly concretizes something Ayn Rand once said about judging productivity:
The moral issue is: how do you approach the field of work given your intellectual endowment and the existing possibilities? Are you going through the motions of holding a job, without focus or ambition, waiting for weekends, vacations, and retirement? Or are you doing the most and the best that you can with your life? Have you committed yourself to a purpose, i.e., to a productive career? Have you picked a field that makes demands on you, and are you striving to meet them, to do good work, and to build on it -- to expand your knowledge, develop your ability, improve your efficiency?

If the answers to these last questions are yes, then you are totally virtuous in regard to productiveness, whether you are a surgeon or a steelworker, a house painter or a painter of landscapes, a janitor or a company president.
Incredibly, this story epitomizes the point using the last two examples from Rand's list.

Enter Richard Montañez, a janitor at Frito-Lay, and CEO Roger Enrico, who had issued a company-wide call to all his employees to think of themselves as owners. Here is a transcript of the initial phone call Montañez placed when he was ready to pitch his idea for Flamin' Hot Cheetos. It would probably be blasted as too unbelievable, were it part of a work of fiction:
Spices from elote, pictured, inspired the seasoning for Flamin' Hot Cheetos. (Image by Robert Penaloza, via Unsplash, license.)
"Mr. Enrico's office. Who is this?"

"Richard Montañez."

"What division are you with?"


"You're the VP overseeing California?"

"No, I work at the Rancho Cucamonga plant."

"Oh, so you're the VP of operations?"

"No, I work inside the plant."

"You're the plant manager?"

"No. I'm the janitor."
Montañez is now vice president at Frito-Lay and has since overseen the introduction of several multimillion dollar product lines. His story involves great difficulty, persistence, hard work, and keen observation. I highly recommend making time to read it -- It's a bit under 2000 words. -- especially if you could do with some inspiration. From his humble beginnings, through having to leave school in fourth grade, and from being advised to do the best he possibly could, through finding a way around a faction that wanted him to fail, this truly American success story has it all. (And yes, it is being made into a movie.)

One last point: Although the story focuses on the self-made Montañez, I think it is inspiring and thought-provoking to consider Enrico's part, here, too. Without his active-minded leadership, from "invitation" (as Montañez saw his call to arms) to seeing past the roughness of a janitor's presentation, he deserves high praise and emulation as well.

-- CAV

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