Outgoing McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner credits Midwestern values for success

David Paulin
McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, 67, recently announced his retirement from a 41-year career with the all-American fast-food purveyor -- a fantastically successful company that, besides providing entry-level jobs to millions of young Americans, is a positive cultural icon and employer to millions of people overseas.

What was the secret of Skinner's success? It wasn't college (he never finished), but his bricklayer father and the "Midwestern values" he acquired growing up in Davenport, Iowa - during which he flipped burgers as a teen at a local McDonald's.

As the Quad-City Times explains:

In a 2008 interview with the Quad-City Times, Skinner, a 1962 graduate of Davenport West High School, called his story a prime example of "the American dream," which he said is still possible for anyone flipping burgers at McDonald's.

"It's not only possible, it's a reality," Skinner said at the time. "This is the American dream in an American company that is not exactly 'what you see is what you get.'"

Skinner began working his way to the top after serving 10 years in the U.S. Navy.

Calling Davenport a "strong-shouldered Midwestern city with Midwestern values," Skinner credits his success to learning those values in the Quad-Cities, where his family moved from New York City when he was just a few years old.

His father was a bricklayer by trade, and Skinner thinks the family moved to follow work opportunities for him. At West, Skinner was on the wrestling team.

"I really got my work ethic from my father," Skinner said. "He was never out of work. He got up every morning and grinded it out every day. I have been successful because of that."

It's a charming article about a man who is living the American dream -- and the whole thing may be read here.


McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, 67, recently announced his retirement from a 41-year career with the all-American fast-food purveyor -- a fantastically successful company that, besides providing entry-level jobs to millions of young Americans, is a positive cultural icon and employer to millions of people overseas.

What was the secret of Skinner's success? It wasn't college (he never finished), but his bricklayer father and the "Midwestern values" he acquired growing up in Davenport, Iowa - during which he flipped burgers as a teen at a local McDonald's.

As the Quad-City Times explains:

In a 2008 interview with the Quad-City Times, Skinner, a 1962 graduate of Davenport West High School, called his story a prime example of "the American dream," which he said is still possible for anyone flipping burgers at McDonald's.

"It's not only possible, it's a reality," Skinner said at the time. "This is the American dream in an American company that is not exactly 'what you see is what you get.'"

Skinner began working his way to the top after serving 10 years in the U.S. Navy.

Calling Davenport a "strong-shouldered Midwestern city with Midwestern values," Skinner credits his success to learning those values in the Quad-Cities, where his family moved from New York City when he was just a few years old.

His father was a bricklayer by trade, and Skinner thinks the family moved to follow work opportunities for him. At West, Skinner was on the wrestling team.

"I really got my work ethic from my father," Skinner said. "He was never out of work. He got up every morning and grinded it out every day. I have been successful because of that."

It's a charming article about a man who is living the American dream -- and the whole thing may be read here.