KINKO’S:DRESS LIKE A REPULICAN !
KINKO’S:DRESS LIKE A REPULICAN !
2005-10-05 at 12:18:00 pm #13223
The Guy Behind Kinko’s Offers Up His Aphorisms
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
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
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.”
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.”