Strange Bedfellows? No… Strategic!

How’s this for a corporate introduction?

“In life, as in chicken, it’s always better when you just keep it real. No filler. No nonsense. Just stick to the good stuff. The 100% real stuff. The simple things that make life, and chicken, great.”

Not a bad philosophy of life… Amen? Depending, of course, on your definition of good and real.

This philosophy enabled Tyson Foods to become one of the earliest (and few) companies to revolutionize its industry. By turning a commodity into a brand.

John W. Tyson started out peddling dressed chickens, eggs, butter and other farm-fresh products.

With 11 cents in his pocket, he went to Chicago. His old truck filled with chickens. Netting him $235.00. Which he invested in more chickens.

The rest is history. Tyson Foods is now the world’s second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork…

… employing 115,000 people in 300+ facilities (2014)…

… partnering with 11,000+ independent farmers ( or decades and/or generations)…

… and surpassing $38 billion in sales (2017), almost doubling its 2013 earnings-per-share.

Founding Tyson Foods in 1935, John W. sought to build a corporate culture on his Christian faith, family and hard work. A legacy his grandson, John H. Tyson, has sought to continue since becoming Chairman and CEO in 2000.

Tyson’s four core values — Integrity, Faith-friendly, Stewardship and Safety — drive five desired Team Behaviors:

We are a caring team that puts the customer first. We listen, assume positive intent, then speak with candor. We embrace creativity to get better every day. We are inclusive, and through intentional collaboration, we win. We make a commitment daily, to deliver results the right way.

Skeptics abounded when John H. took over. He had been sidelined to marginal responsibilities in the late 1980s by twin addictions (cocaine and alcohol). During a 1998 legal proceeding, John admitted:

“The only reason I was on the payroll is because I was the son of the boss. Any other corporation, I would have been thrown to the wolves.”

Instead, he went through recovery and found God.

Skepticism turned into accolades. John succeeded in diversifying Tyson beyond poultry. Expanding into beef and pork by acquiring major processor, IBP (2001). Doubling sales (and tripling profits) from the year before.

Awards for innovations and charitable work followed. Including (but not limited to) Tyson’s donation of 78 million+ pounds of products to hunger and disaster relief efforts. AND

Controversies have also arisen concerning various fiscal and operational practices.

And John H.’s spiritual journey?

“My faith is… an ongoing evolution, trying to understand what faith in the marketplace looks like, giving people permission to live their faith seven days a week. If people can talk about the football game on Monday, why can’t they talk about their faith?”

Great question.

One answer, also met with skepticism: John’s Giving Thanks Prayer Guide, encouraging people (of different faiths) to give thanks at mealtime.  AND

Ups + Downs. Begging the question: Does faith-based Purpose require perfection?

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl

This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can… EMAIL me at [email protected]; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at


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