Of all the rules about what you’re not supposed to do with company money, going to Vegas and gambling has to be high on the list. But that’s what saved FedEx. Seriously.
The story appears on the website ImmatureBusiness, but is well-sourced. They explain:
[In 1973] the company was about to go bankrupt; until [CEO Fred Smith] decided to go to the city of sins, Las Vegas. There, he made $27,000 at the blackjack tables and wired the winnings back to Federal Express, saving the company from going bankrupt. The result of betting money in Las vegas: Fred saved the company and helped it to stay afloat for a few more days, enough days to collect $11 million from more investors.
Okay, sure, Failure is the secret to success. But this has to be one for the record books.
By the way, this wasn’t the only time Fred Smith took what most people thought would be a failure and turned it around. As an Entrepreneur.com article explains:
While attending Yale University in the mid-1960s, Fred Smith wrote an economics term paper on the need for reliable overnight delivery in a computerized information age. His professor was less than impressed and responded: “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
Fred Smith wasn’t going to let a bad grade deter him. Or, being down to his last few thousand dollars in capital. What are you going to let stand in the way of your own success?