To see how his company was faring internationally, Lee embarked on a world tour in 1993. His findings were not encouraging: A visit in February to a Southern California electronics store revealed Sony and Panasonic (PC) TVs in the front window and Samsung TVs gathering dust on a low shelf in the back. Lee was not happy.
By June, he’d made it to Germany and was staying at the Falkenstein Grand Kempinski Hotel in Frankfurt. He summoned all of Samsung’s executives—who numbered in the hundreds—to meet him there. “He did this at the drop of a hat, and they all gathered,” says communications chief Lee. On June 7 the chairman delivered a speech that lasted three days (they adjourned in the evenings). The most famous quote to emerge from the address was, “Change everything but your wife and children,” which has “Ask not what your country can do for you” levels of recognition at Samsung.
The event became known, formally, as the Frankfurt Declaration of 1993, with all the United Nations import the name suggests.
All companies of import have a founding myth.