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 user 2005-10-05 at 12:20:00 pm Views: 42
  • #13060

    The Guy Behind Kinko’s Offers Up His Aphorisms

    We’ve all
    heard about celebs who haven’t let dyslexia hold them back – Tom Cruise
    and Cher, to name two. Then there is Paul Orfalea, the man who founded

    As Orfalea points out in
    his memoir, Copy This!, “Not many kids manage to flunk the second
    grade, but I did.” He insists on the phrase “learning opportunities” to
    describe the ways dyslexia (a learning disability often characterized
    by difficulty reading and writing) and ADHD (attention
    deficit/hyperactivity disorder) affected his life. At 22, in 1970, he
    founded Kinko’s in Isla Vista, Calif. He was inspired after visiting an
    extremely busy copy store when he was a University of Southern
    California student. His father co-signed a $5,000 loan so Orfalea could
    lease a Xerox copier for $1,000 a month.
    He gave his business his college nickname “Kinko,” for his kinky hair.
    “It was no accident I chose it. Customers don’t forget hard-consonant
    names,” he writes. A group of his friends became primary partners. This
    creative and mellow group formed the core of a cool, entrepreneurial
    culture, one that spawned growth and prevented turnover, according to
    this book.
    All “co-workers” – the name given employees – had a share in the profit, and shop owners could run their stores as they saw fit.
    As the company expanded, growing pains inevitably came. Although
    Orfalea “tried to avoid centralization and homogenization as much as
    (he) could,” sometimes ideas that could have brought positive change to
    all Kinko’s stores were not instituted because of its
    anti-cookie-cutter stance.
    The customer base broadened, too: More corporate clients came to
    Kinko’s for help with presentations and proposals. The store’s
    offerings expanded from copying and photo processing to include
    graphics reproduction, kiosks for Internet access, digital-photo
    services and the ability to handle large-scale projects for corporate
    In a nod to the changing business – and the fact that the hippie look
    wasn’t so hot once the ’70s ended – co-workers were required to wear
    professional attire. “As I got older,” Orfalea says, “I discovered that
    to succeed in business, you’ve got to dress like a
    “As I got older, I discovered that to succeed in business, you’ve got to dress like a Republican.”
    -Kinko’s Founder
    Paul Orfalea
    Another Orfalea-ism: Deal with your dark side. The author’s problem
    with anger, he says, stems from merciless childhood teasing by his
    siblings. In addition, at 14, he was kidnapped and molested by a
    neighbor. The man was jailed, and Orfalea says he has chosen to forgive
    him. But he believe it’s possible he retains suppressed anger.
    He acknowledges ill effects his mercurial nature had on some
    relationships, but adds that he expected forgiveness from co-workers.
    His parents were key to confidence in himself and his ideas – and his
    laser focus on money. “My parents were much more interested in my
    savings account and my critical thinking skills than they were in my
    grades,” he says.
    He also says:
    •Vacations are vital to your well-being and work.
    •Personal connections count. He writes about the “power of the picnic”
    as a great unifier – and growth-stimulator – for Kinko’s. The company’s
    annual giant, boozy get-togethers became legendary.
    After selling the company to FedEx in 2004, Orfalea is “re-purposing”
    himself via a charitable foundation he runs with his wife, Natalie
    (they have two sons and live in Santa Barbara).
    The appendix is remarkable, just for its length. You’ll find a 15-page
    list naming valued employees and friends, a collection of “Stories That
    Didn’t Make it Into the Book,” as well as “Orfalea’s Aphorisms.” A
    sample: “The worker at the counter is the true hero of the company