Are your desires purely selfish? Do your tastes run to a grand home, automobiles, fine clothes, an abundance of amusements, and so forth? If so, look around you at people who have such things in superabundance. Are they any happier, do you think, than you are? Are they any better morally? Are they any stronger physically? Are they better liked by their friends than you are by your friends? ... Carnegie said, Millionaires rarely smile. This is substantially true.
It is a great mistake for presidents and other leading executives of organizations having branches throughout the country to chain themselves to their desks at headquarters and send out rigid instructions to those in charge of distant branches and offices. Because a man sits in a palatial office in New York or Chicago or Philadelphia or Detroit and draws a big salary, it does not necessarily follow that he knows better than the man on the spot what ought to be done.... Paul, Caesar, Napoleon did not merely sit at home and issue long-range instructions.
Whenever possible, I like to have the supreme head of a company show me over the works. It is extremely illuminating to note the attitude of workers towards their boss, and equally interesting to note the attitude towards the workers. It is tragic to notice how many chief executives of large concerns are absolutely unknown, even by sight, to the rank and file of their workers.
That which is useless dies. Animals that fail to serve some useful purpose in the scheme of things slowly but surely become extinct. Let any part of the human body cease to perform its ordained function, and it withers-as when an arm is kept long in a sling. This same decree, that nothing useless is permitted to survive, runs through the mind of the industrial world.
What one thing does the world need most today-apart, that is, from the all-inclusive thing we call righteousness? Aren't you inclined to agree that what this old world needs is just the art of being kind? Every time I visit a factory or any other large business concern, I find myself trying to diagnose whether the atmosphere is one of kindliness or the reverse. And somehow, if there is palpably lacking that spirit of kindness, the owners ... have fallen short of achieving 24-carat success no matter how imposing the financial balance sheet may be.
Is America becoming decadent? Do we no longer regard our promises and pledges as sacred? ... We promised to make peace with Germany only in conjunction with the Allies; but we brought forward a separate peace, demanding for ourselves all the advantages of the Treaty of Versailles but rejecting all the responsibilities embodied in the Treaty. It was America's President who induced Europe to form a League of Nations; and then America was the first country that refused to joint it.... If these are not the symptoms of national decadency, what are they?
Henry Ford has several times sneered at unproductive stockholders.... Well, now. Let's see. Who made Henry Ford's own automobile company possible? The stockholders who originally advanced money to him. Who makes it possible for you and me to be carried to and from business by train or street car? Stockholders.... Who made our vast telephone and telegraph service possible? Stockholders.... Were stockholders all over the country to withdraw their capital from the enterprises in which they are invested, there would be a panic ... on a scale never before known.
He is a wise man who seeks by every legitimate means to make all the money he can honestly, for money can do so many worthwhile things in this world, not merely for one's self but for others. But he is an unmitigated fool who imagines for a moment that it is more important to make the money than to make it honestly. One of the advantages of possessing money is that it facilitates one's independence and mental attitude. The man head over heels in debt is more slave than independent.
Vacations for wage earners have proved both popular with workers and profitable for employers. Unfortunately, the majority of large employers have not yet followed the example set by a number of progressive corporations. I don't know of a single company that has abandoned vacations for wage earners after having tried the experiment. But I do know many that are delighted with the fruits they have gathered. Under some of the plans vacations with pay must be earned by good behavior, punctuality, etc.... The best results have come where the treatment has been regarded as most liberal.
For my part, I rather distrust men or concerns that rise up with the speed of rockets. Sudden rises are sometimes followed by equally sudden falls. I have most faith in the individual or enterprise that advances step by step. A mushroom can spring up in a day; an oak takes 50 years or more to reach maturity. Mushrooms don't last; oaks do. The real cause for an enormous number of business failures is premature over-expansion, attempting to gallop before learning to creep. Sudden successes often invite sudden reverses.
The more I move among workers and factories and other plants, the stronger I become convinced that it is advisable to have as [a company] president a practical man, preferably one who has risen from the very bottom of the ladder. Workmen, I find, have far more respect for such men than for collar-and-cuff executives knowing little or nothing about the different kinds of work which have to be done by the workers. Wherever circumstances call for placing a financier or lawyer or a papa's son at the head of a large organization, he should be made chairman or some... Read more »
No man can fight his way to the top and stay at the top without exercising the fullest measure of grit, courage, determination, resolution. Every man who gets anywhere does so because he has first firmly resolved to progress in the world and then has enough stick-to-it-tiveness to transform his resolution into reality. Without resolution, no man can win any worthwhile place among his fellow men.
The most famous self-made man in the world today is our own Edison. Talk with Mr. Edison and he will tell you he owes much if not most of his success to omnivorous reading. Forbes is one of his favorite publications. How closely he reads it can be gathered from a letter just received from him in which he asks the editor to forward a long analytical letter to the writer of a series of articles which contained two figures Mr. Edison questions, and he wants to know exactly on what authority or investigation they were based. Both letters were... Read more »
There is more genuine joy in climbing the hill of success, even though sweat may be spent and toes may be stubbed, than in aimlessly sliding down the path to failure. If a straight, honorable path has been chosen, the gaining of the summit yields lasting satisfaction. The morass of failure, if reached through laziness, indifference or other avoidable fault, yields nothing but ignominy and sorrow for self and family and friends.
The man who works 52 weeks in the year does not do his best in any one week of the year, Daniel Guggenheim, onetime head of the greatest smelting and mining family in America, impressed upon me. Real recreation quickens aspiration. The true purpose of recreation is not merely to amuse, not merely to afford pleasure, not merely to kill time, but to increase our fitness, enhance our usefulness, spur achievement.
Call the roll in your memory of conspicuously successful [business] giants and, if you know anything about their careers, you will be struck by the fact that almost every one of them encountered inordinate difficulties sufficient to crush all but the gamest of spirits. Edison went hungry many times before he became famous.
If the World War [I] demonstrated anything it was that government ownership is fraught with the gravest dangers and usually leads to disaster. Take Britain. The two problems which have caused the greatest trouble since the war ended have been transportation and coal. The government seized both industries when the war broke out. It got them into such a hopeless mess that it does not know how to turn [In] coal; the government now realizes, it took hold of the tail of a wild animal and is afraid to let go.
Managing the other fellow's business is a fascinating game. Trade unionists all over the country have pronounced ideas for the reform of Wall Street banks; and Wall Street bankers are not far behind in giving plans for the tremendous improvement of trade union policies. Wholesalers have schemes for improving the retailer; the retailer knows just what is wrong in the conduct of wholesale business-and we might go through a long list.... Yet for some reason the classes that ought to be helped keep on stubbornly clinging to their own method of running their affairs....
It is easier to start taxes than to stop them. A tax an inch long can easily become a yard long. That has been the history of the income tax. Would not the sales tax be likely to have a similar history [in the U.S.]? ... Canadian newspapers report that an increase in the sales tax threatens to drive the Mackenzie King administration out of office. Canada began with a sales tax of 2%.... Starting this month the tax is 6%. The burden, in other words, has already been increased 200% ... What the U.S. needs is not new taxes,... Read more »
If the United States is to produce a nation of investors-as we must if we are to gain financial world-leadership-it is imperative that boards of directors be so constituted as to adequately represent the interests and inspire the complete confidence of investors of moderate substance.
How many men I know who are earning dollars aplenty, but who are really earning little of what counts. They are so overwhelmingly engrossed in business that they get nothing from their dollars. The Juggernaut of dollar-making has crushed out of them every capacity for genuine enjoyment, every grace, every unselfish sentiment and instinct.
Frank W. Woolworth once told me that the turning-point in his career did not come until he was thrown flat on his back by illness. He was sure that his business would go to pieces during his long, enforced absence. Instead, he discovered that he had in his employ men who could overcome difficulties when given power to exercise initiative. After that Woolworth left many problems and difficulties to be solved by subordinates and turned his attention to big things.
A certain ultra-dignified gentleman of unusual prominence carried himself so stiffly that nobody felt free to call him by his first name. He quarreled with a friend of earlier days and from then on the two never spoke. The day the friend died an associate found the ultra-dignified gentleman staring through the window. When he came out of his reverie, he soliloquized with a sigh, ""He was the last to call me John."" Is any man really entitled to regard himself a success who has failed to inspire at least a goodly number of fellow mortals to greet him by... Read more »
Had I not gone through the ordeal, in more than one country, of landing a job, I would he tempted to lose patience over the number of letters pouring in from fellows who want me or someone else to hand them a job on a silver platter with a guarantee that they will receive the wonderful promotion their talents warrant.... But a tragic number of young men and even older men have a notion that it is not up to them to prosecute the bettering process. They look to someone else to perform the trick for them.
A magazine editor recently asked me to sit down on my 40th birthday and write an article on the most important things I had learned in my first 40 years. I told him that the chief thing I had learned was that the copybook maxims are true, but that too many people forget this once they go out into the heat and hustle and bustle of the battle of life and only realize their truth once one foot is beginning to slip into the grave. The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure.