Brain Food: History Lessons - Be Persistent - Ingvar Kamprad

Ikea's Swedish founder Ingvar Kamprad has every right to sound messianic - twice as many people visit his stores as attend church, and his catalogue's print-run outstrips the Bible's. But it all could have been so different.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

In his early years, Kamprad's low prices were so unpopular with rivals that he once had to be smuggled into a trade show in the boot of a friend's Volvo. He showed great talent for making the best of a bad situation.

When a local draughtsman pulled the legs off a table to get it home, Kamprad hired him as a designer - and switched to flat-pack design. As Ikea grew, so did Kamprad's problems - alcoholism, allegations of a Nazi past, deaths at a store opening - but nothing deflected him. As he surveys his empire now, Kamprad is prone to lofty pronouncements. Wasting resources is 'a mortal sin' and he promises 'a better life for many'. Remember, your problems may seem insurmountable now, but stick with it and you could be giving your own sermon on the mount one day.

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