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Copy This: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Reading

abstract:Every now and then Bookbuffet revisits past articles we posted. This one dating back to 2006 was brought to our attention when a new online magazine asked us to replace a broken Fortune Magazine link with their own feature. We checked them out and agreed --it's a great article and so is our original. How interesting that material over 13 years ago remains interesting, simply because the subject of the feature has continued to evolve. Meet Paul Orfalea and find out what he's done in this interim.

Growing up with Dyslexia and ADHD, Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea learned to become an expert at reading people.  He used these skills, 'learning opportunities' as he calls them, to build a $2 billion dollar empire.


April 24, 2019
— Paul Orfalea has a unique approach to business.  As President of Kinko’s Copies, he refused to spend more than three weeks at a time in the office, preferring to travel the country and speak with workers at Kinko locations.  Orfalea’s strength was in his ability to delegate, hiring people to perform the tasks that he was incapable of doing.  His ‘learning opportunities’ taught him humility, and he used this incorporating spirit to grow a 100-square-foot copy shop in Santa Barbara, California into a $1.5 billion-a-year company that was named one of the best places in America to work.

Orfalea’s severe dyslexia and ADHD caused him to flunk second-grade.  He struggled through high school and college.  He was fired from a gas station for writing illegible receipts.  Despite this, he went into the copy business on a whim at the age of 22 and never looked back.  Under Orfalea, Kinko’s was renowned for treating employees with respect, corporate culture dictated that management was of secondary importance to the front line workers who interacted with customers on a daily basis.  Employees received unprecedented benefits such as health and child-care, as well as opportunities for growth.

Orfalea’s humility, compassion, and ability to turn his ‘differences’ into assets can be seen as invaluable lessons; not only to children and parents struggling with learning disabilities but to all who feel trapped in the mundane.  Orfalea’s story, Copy This: Lessons from a hyperactive dyslexic who turned a bright idea into one of America’s best companies, delegated to writer Ann Marsh, provides insight and inspiration into meeting challenges, accepting personal weaknesses, and surrounding oneself with talented people.

Whistler Reads brought Paul's biographer to North America's top ski destination to speak about his book, which she authored for him. Here's what ensured...Ann Marsh’s talk at Whistler’s Rainbow Theatre, 4pm on May 6

Orfalea's Good Deeds Since Then

Check out his Paul Orfalea Foundation.
The $15Million donation to establish the Cal Poly Orfalea School of Business .



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