Jeno, The Power of the Peddler
Pointer from the Peddler: When all is said and done my history has been that I create something I peddle it one way or another and then I start all over again. That’s the fun in my game of life. Try it; you’ll like it.
Boiled down to its simplest level Jeno Paulucci is just in his own words “a peddler from the Iron Range.” But what a peddler! Paulucci was the recipient of the Number One Overall Entrepreneur in the World and the first recipient of the International Lifetime Achievement Award for Activism Entrepreneurship and Leadership by Ernst & Young in 2004.
In Jeno: The Power of the Peddler one sees firsthand how Paulucci combined activism entrepreneurship and leadership to build a legacy few can match. The book is more a collection of stories illustrating how he built the legacy than a step-by-step analysis of every aspect of his life.
From poor beginnings fighting discrimination in Minnesota through careers such as street barker and traveling salesman Paulucci is the man behind some of the most recognized brands in the country. Among them are Chun King Chinese Food Jeno’s Pizza Rolls and Michelina’s Frozen Food entrees. His stories of battles with early bosses partners suppliers and regulations are entertaining and make one fully realize how extremely difficult it was to build the empire. They also show how Paulucci’s ingenuity and dogged determination were vital to his success. Over eighty years old now Paulucci averages about one lawsuit for every year he’s been in business taking on some of the largest corporations. He classifies them as PC’s (Proven Correct) some were PIA’s (Pains in the A); some like the suits and countersuits with Pillsbury were both.
“To hell with committee meetings. Think act expedite and push it through yourself” he believes. His no excuses take-charge attitude comes through in every story. Part of the author’s goal with this book is to provide guidance for today’s entrepreneurs. To do that he examines his failures as well as successes. As much as Paulucci’s willing to take the credit he also readily acknowledges the part he played in failed ventures such as early restaurant investments and missed opportunities.
The book flows seamlessly from one chapter to the next suffused with the energy of its author. One can imagine Paulucci sitting with a group of budding entrepreneurs and imparting his wisdom with his colorful stories. He keeps them enthralled with tales of early days selling fruit on the streets to the later days of selling trainloads of produce battles against giants fights to preserve the rights of land and people building a city and hobnobbing with presidents. Through the book we see an accessible man who despite his great success and wealth never forgot his beginnings or what the important things in life really are.