You probably didn’t know that the invention of “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” perfectly embodies the ability of capitalism to significantly change an individual’s life for the better.
Well, it’s true.
In 1976, Richard Montanez was working as a janitor at a California Frito-Lay factory. He could barely speak English and didn’t even have a high school diploma. Today, he’s a high-rolling executive who flies in corporate jets and meets with U.S. presidents.
All it took was a good idea and a lot of hard work to make that drastic leap in a short period of time.
One day in 1976, a machine broke in the Cheetos assembly line. Some of the Cheetos were missing cheese due to the broken machine, so Montanez took some home and put chili powder on them — and “it tasted good,” he said.
Montanez then created his own recipe for a spicier version of Cheetos that his family, friends and co-workers loved. Next, he made the brave decision to pitch his new product to the CEO of his company.
After hearing about the idea, the CEO personally invited the janitor to make a presentation. The opportunity would prove to be life-changing.
More from the Daily Mail:
Montanez didn’t even own a tie, but he rushed out to buy one and picked up a book on marketing from the library to prepare his pitch.
The president loved the idea and since then, the flaming hot line of products was born, including ‘Flamin’ Hot Cheetos’ – which is one of Frito-Lay’s top selling snacks.
The 55-year-old’s simple idea also influenced future ethnic products including Hispanic products for KFC and Taco Bell.
Speaking at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s annual Power of Diversity even on Tuesday, Montanez spoke about his “PhD” — or his “poor hungry and determined” attitude, the Kansas City Star reports.
According to him, “there’s no such thing as ‘just a janitor’…if you act like an owner.”
“My disqualifications are the very things that qualified me. Your own people will hold you back. Break ranks. That’s diversity and inclusion. Don’t just hang out with your own,” he said.
Read the Daily Mail’s full report here.