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A Friendly Life- The Autobiography of S. Prestley Blake

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A Friendly Life is the autobiography of S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, a large chain of family restaurants. Pres is currently 96 years old and remains a no-nonsense, take-charge kind of guy.

Pres Blake and his brother Curtis started Friendly Ice Cream in 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. With $547 initial capital from their parents, Pres and Curtis worked day and night in their tiny shop. This small business kept expanding, and over time, grew to a 500-plus restaurant chain. The Blake brothers invoked straightforward business principles to guide their growth, and with hard work and good advice from other business people, they were able to succeed, as Pres says, "beyond our wildest dreams.” After 40 years, they sold Friendly’s to the Hershey Corporation. Pres’s message to young entrepreneurs: "Work hard, look for opportunities, mind your manners, and stay smart. If I could do it, so can you."

Once retired, Pres embarked on a series of grand adventures, involving his fascination with fine motorcars, exploring the world, and philanthropy.

But at age 86, Pres was roused to come back and save Friendly’s, his "baby," from the management team that had bought it from Hershey. Pres fought for seven years to liberate Friendly’s from mismanagement. Seven years and eleven million dollars later, Pres got what he had hoped for: a new owner of the company who would handle Friendly’s with care.

Harvard Business School has included the story of Pres’s lawsuit as a management case study in corporate governance.

A Friendly Life is a fascinating portrait of a man whose life has been guided by his principles. The book reminds us that you’re never too old to fight for what you believe is right.
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