Profiles, Stories

George Yang: Living Everyday Like It’s the First Day of the Rest of His Life

George Yang is best known as the ‘McDonald’s guy’, a title that he’s very proud of. When he opened the first Mcdonald’s restaurant in 1981, he actually popularized fast food cuisine to Filipinos in the process. You can still visit the first and original McDonald’s of the Philippines at Morayta, Manila.

There’s actually more than meets the eye with George Yang though. Within and outside his work at Mcdonald’s, you’ll meet a guy with a sweet smile, a carefree mindset, and a story to tell. Here’s a few bits from the life of the McDonald’s guy!

A DAVID AMONG GOLIATHS

“…the beginnings of McDonald’s here in the Philippines was a struggle, mentally and physically. It was not a bed of roses. But McDonald’s is McDonald’s: it’s good and fun.” said Yang in an article for Business World

In 1974, Yang wrote a letter expressing his interest in opening a local franchise to the McDonald’s headquarters in the USA. At the time, the executives felt that the country wasn’t ready yet for the fast-food giant. There was also the fact that besides Yang, there were other far more experienced people waiting in-line to bring McDonald’s to our shores. So of course, his proposal was declined at the time.

Mcdonald's George Yang
PERSEVERANCE, PERSISTENCE, AND HARD WORK

When asked how he got the coveted franchise, Yang said these three words.

Despite knowing there were others better than him and despite his declined proposal, he still persisted — after all, it was this same persistence that gave us Chicken McDo, Burger Mcdo, spaghetti, and steamed rice!

After seven years of going back and again with the executives, he persevered and found a way to get a proper meeting with them. Yang did his best to his sincere intentions for the franchise and the hard work he was willing to give for it.

As they were deciding on who’d get the franchise, Yang worked hard. Now in his mid-30s, he traveled to Hong Kong and worked as a McDonald’s staff member. There, he prepared and served food and cleaned tables and the restroom. Eventually, he moved his way up to being Manager!

All his efforts paid off because, finally, on September 10, 1981, the first McDonald’s of the Philippines opened in Morayta, Manila with a packed house and a line that snaked all the way around the block.

Mcdonlad's Cubao George Yang
REVELING IN RETIREMENT

Yang was 60 years old when he discovered that he could sing — all thanks to a karaoke machine.

“I like music and singing because they give me a certain kind of peace. Although I am known mainly for my business ventures, it is nice to introduce another part of myself to other people,” said Yang in an interview with Inquirer Philippines.

He decided to study and hone his musical talent, specifically in opera and classical music, which led to a full-on career, a friendship with Jose Mari Chan, and a socio-civic cause he holds dearly in his heart.

Mcdonald's PH George Yang singing

The Klassikal Music Foundation is the said cause. It’s a scholarship fund that provides financial assistance to aspiring and extraordinary young musicians as they hone their talent in classical music. Yang has always felt blessed with the musical talent he discovered and it is through this foundation that he feels he can fully pay back that blessing. The foundation regularly mounts shows to raise funds, and Yang is often part of the shows.

 

To live as if it’s ‘the first the day of the rest of one’s life’ is to live with a mindset that never looks back at the past and never compares oneself with others — but instead, always thinks forward and acts on one’s feet. George Yang, from his experiences with McDonald’s to his finding his talent at the age of 60, is a prime example of this type of mindset.

If you want to learn more about this Chinoy, watch his extended Chinoy Profiles here.

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