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Business Ideas – 3 Business Lessons From George Lucas
Today we’re going to look at how a young man who wanted to become a professional race car driver changed his career choice after connecting with the right mentor and rose to the top of his industry. This is the story of Star Wars creator George Lucas and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“The secret is not to give up hope. It’s very hard not to because if you’re really doing something worthwhile I think you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness before you come through the other side. You just have to hang in through that.” – George Lucas
George Lucas (born May 14, 1944) is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm and is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Lucas’ father owned a small office supply store that Lucas was destined to take over but he had other plans – he wanted to become a professional race car driver. Almost his entire childhood was dedicated to cars.
When he was in a near-fatal car accident just days before his high school graduation, Lucas gave up racing and went to college. He enrolled in the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television because he liked photography and thought “maybe that will be interesting.” The program would change his life. He met Francis Ford Coppola at the film school who served as his mentor and inspired him to become a producer-director. Upon graduation he committed himself to doing films as his profession.
Today Lucas is one of the film industry’s most financially successful directors/producers. His estimated 2011 net worth is $3.2 billion and he’s received numerous honours such as being named among the 100 Greatest Americans by the Discovery Channel and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film institute.
Action Item #1: Love what you do
Action Item #2: Find something you’re great at
Action Item #3: Keep going
Lucas wrote the screenplay for Star Wars after being inspired by Flash Gordon and Planet of the Apes. While writing it he thought that it was “too wacky” for the general public but he insisted on finishing it. When the script was finished, only Twentieth Century Fox was willing to take a chance on the movie. In a groundbreaking move at the time, Lucas agreed to give up his director’s salary in exchange for 40% of the film’s box office take as well as all merchandising rights and sequel rights. Breaking all box office records and winning seven Academy Awards, Star Wars made Lucas an instant millionaire as well as a household name.
“I’m extremely grateful that I discovered my passion. I love movies. I love to watch them, I love to make them.”
“It’s hard work making movies…if you don’t really love it, then it ain’t worth it.”
“I got the licensing rights because I figured they wouldn’t promote the film and if I got T-shirts and things out there with the name of the film on them it would help promote the movie.”
Business Ideas – How to Learn, Not Waste Time, and Be Kind Like Benjamin Franklin
Today we’re going to take a closer look at the fifteenth child of seventeen children who only had two years of grammar school education and went on to become an entrepreneur and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. This is the story of Benjamin Franklin and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706) did not come from a family of prominence. Instead, his family could only afford to send him to two years of grammar school and by the time he was 13, Franklin’s father sent him off to apprentice at his older brother’s print company. Here, Franklin helped to compose pamphlets, set up type, sell the paper on the streets and perform other printer-related duties. Franklin also began writing columns under the pseudonym ‘Mrs. Silence Dogood’, who he fabricated to be a middle-aged widow. Dogood was an immediate hit with her writings about the problems and social conditions of women, but when James found out it was actually his younger brother writing her column, he was furious. As a result of James’ ensuing harassment and beatings, Franklin became a fugitive and ran away from his family at the age of 17.
Franklin tried his luck as a printer both in New York and New Jersey, but to no avail. He then moved to Philadelphia, where he did manage to find a job with a printer. But, Franklin was unsatisfied with his prospects there. After a brief stint at a printer’s shop in London, England, Franklin returned to Philadelphia in 1726. Four years and much borrowed money later, he had finally set up his own printing house. He began to publish a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette, in which he would regularly give himself space to comment on the most pressing social issues of the time. He cultivated an image of himself as an intellectual and a productive young man and his writings were the beginning of what would earn Franklin significant social respect.
In 1748, Franklin officially retired from the printing business, although he continued writing literature and satirical essays throughout the rest of his life. He began to take a more formal role in public life, becoming councilman, Justice of the Peace in Pennsylvania and elected member of the Assembly. Five years later, he was appointed Joint Deputy Postmaster-General of North America and several other posts. In perhaps his most well known feat, Franklin began working towards independence as part of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1787, after he had retired from public office, he attended a series of meetings that would result in the United States Constitution. He became the only Founding Father to sign all three of the country’s major founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, The Treaty of Paris and the U.S. Constitution.
Action Item #1: Always be Learning
Action Item #2: Don’t Waste Time
Action Item #3: Be Kind to One Another
Benjamin Franklin had no real opinions on slavery until he went to England. His wife, Deborah, was not well educated and had problems even writing to him, but pressured him into visiting a grammar school for black children while he was stationed in London. After visiting the school, Franklin found, to his surprise, that black children were just as smart at white children. After coming to this realization, he changed his entire outlook on the way slavery was being conducted in the United States.
Unknown to most people in America, Franklin was one of the first American politicians to advocate the end of slavery in the United States. He had been socially active most of his life, even creating one of the first fire departments in Philadelphia. During the end of his life, he spent a lot of time speaking, writing and publicly admonishing other politicians that believed in slavery. He wanted to start schools for black children and offer them the same things white children had, but in the end, all of his talk would be disregarded. However, his beliefs would eventually lead Abraham Lincoln to the same realization.
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
Business Ideas – 3 Success Lessons from Reed Hastings (Netflix)
Today we’re going to take a closer look at how a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher began a software company at the age of 48. Deciding to switch careers later in life, this man would build the largest movie-rental service in the United States, with more than 23 million subscribers. This is the story of Netflix founder Reed Hastings and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“I got the idea for Netflix after my company was acquired. I had a big late fee for ‘Apollo 13.’ It was six weeks late and I owed the video store $40. I had misplaced the cassette. It was all my fault.” – Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings (born October 8, 1960) is an American entrepreneur and founder of Netflix. He used to teach mathematics in Swaziland as an American Peace Corps volunteer. So, when 48 year old Reed Hastings decided to found his own software company, some eyebrows were raised. But Hastings would prove the disbelievers wrong with the subsequent founding of Netflix, the largest movie-rental service via mail in the U.S. With over 23 million subscribers and sales in the billions, Hastings proved he was able to go from living in Africa, to living in affluence.
Hastings’ father was a prominent lawyer who once worked in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Nixon Administration. After graduating with his Bachelor’s Degree and winning awards for his mathematics abilities, Hastings felt the urge to join the Marine Corps. He signed up for their Platoon Leader Class, and spent two years in their boot camp in Quantico, Virginia. In 1983, Hastings found himself in Swaziland working as a mathematics professor for the Peace Corps. He stayed there two years before deciding to return home. Back in the U.S., Hastings was accepted into graduate school at Stanford. His first choice had been M.I.T., but he did not get accepted.
Hastings graduated from Stanford with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science in 1988, and was subsequently hired by Adaptive Technology, where he worked on developing a debugging software tool. But, Hastings wanted more of a challenge, and he wanted to work for himself. Hastings decided the only option was to set off on his own and start a business. In 1991, Hastings quit his job and launched Pure Software, a company dedicated to developing troubleshooting products for software. But, as the company grew, Hastings found that his mathematics and computer background was not enough of a match for running a business. He asked his company’s board of directors to replace him for the good of the company. After finally selling the business, he would wait two years before trying again. In 1998, Hastings founded Netflix as a movie rental by mail service that offered a flat rate subscription fee. Within five years the business was booming.
Action Item #1: Change the Model
Action Item #2: Don’t Underestimate the Competition
Action Item #3: Work Hard
Even though Hastings grew up in a well-to-do family and attended private school, he spent a few years working for the Peace Corps and teaching in Swaziland. After returning to the United States, he would eventually move to California. Unknown to most people, Hastings became very active in educational philanthropy. He would advocate stronger math and science curricula, as well as advocate increasing the number of charter schools, which he believed were better than public schools.
In an effort to change the way the public schools did business, Hastings would organize a drive to get a new proposal on the California ballot during the 2000 elections. Proposition 39 would go on the ballot, but to show his support for education, Hastings would go back to school to get his graduate degree in education. This showed all the residents that he was serious about education and Proposition 39 would eventually be passed by a large majority of residents.
“It was an extremely satisfying experience. Taking smart risks can be very gratifying.”
“Early on, the first concept we launched was rental by mail, but it wasn’t subscription based, so it worked more like Blockbuster. Some people liked it, but it wasn’t very popular. I remember thinking, God, this whole thing could go down.”
“I learned the value of focus. I learned it is better to do one product well than two products in a mediocre way.”
From Homeless to Millionaire – 3 Success Lessons from Chris Gardner
Today we’re going to look at how a high school dropout and homeless man would go from living on the streets and bathing in public restrooms to building one of the most successful stock brokerage firms in America. This is the story of multi-millionaire Chris Gardner and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Find something that you love. Something that gets you so excited you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. Forget about money. Be happy.” – Chris Gardner
Chris Gardner (born on February 9, 1954) was the only son of 12 children that was being raised by a single mother. His single mother was trained as a schoolteacher, but wound up taking on numerous part-time jobs in order to provide for her family. Gardner and his siblings were transferred back and forth between relatives and foster homes. His mother had been imprisoned twice; once, for allegedly receiving welfare while working, and the second time for attempting to burn down the house of Gardner’s abusive stepfather. Gardner’s prospects were narrow coming from an environment such as this.
While on a sales call, Gardner met a man who was impeccably dressed and drove a red Ferrari. As fate would have it, the driver of the Ferrari was a stockbroker. When Gardner heard that the man was earning over $80,000 a month, he decided that his future lied in investments. He had no education, no experience, and no connections, but that was not about to stop Gardner from achieving his new dream. Once he had decided to become a stockbroker, Gardner immediately set out to find an investment firm that would give him a chance. In one brokerage firm, Gardner finally found a manager of a training program who was willing to give him a shot. However, when Gardner showed up for his first day of work, the manager who had hired him had been fired and no one else had ever heard of Gardner or his new position. He left with his hopes disappointed.
Nevertheless, Gardner didn’t give up on his dreams. He continued to seek out investment firms, taking odd jobs to pay the bills in the meantime. Dean Witter, a San Francisco-based brokerage firm was interested in Gardner but refused to bring him on board before putting him through ten months of interviews. It would be a grueling ten months. Gardner showed up for his interview in a T-shirt and dirty jeans. He could have fabricated some heroic story to explain his appearance. Instead, Gardner decided to tell the truth. In plain terms, Gardner told his interviewer that the mother of his son had ran off with his child, that he was broke, and that he has just gotten out of jail the day before. As luck would have it, the interviewer had recently been through a nasty divorce and could sympathize with Gardner. He was immediately given a position in the company’s training program. In 1987, Gardner launched his own brokerage firm in Chicago, Gardner Rich. Gardner quickly began to land major clients for his new company, including the pension fund of the Chicago Teacher’s Union. Since then, his business has continued to take off and Gardner hasn’t looked back.
Action Item #1: Get Excited About Something
Action Item #2: Be the Best You Can Be
Action Item #3: Remember Your Roots
“Baby steps count, as long as you are going forward. You add them all up, and one day you look back and you’ll be surprised at where you might get to.”
“That’s when I learned in this business, it’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s a green thing. If you can make me money, I don’t care what color you are. So that’s how I deal with that to this day.”
“I was Chris Gardner, father of a son who deserved better than what my daddy could do for me, son of Betty Jean Gardner who said that if I wanted to win I could win.”
Business Ideas – Are people ignoring you? Secrets from Coca-Cola’s Asa Candler
Today we’re going to take a closer look at how a man that left school when he was 10 to work on his father’s farm so that his little brother could go to school. He would go on to build one of the most recognizable companies in the world. This is the story of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Every human life is made to fit some place, and there is a place for every life.” – Asa Candler
Asa Griggs Candler was born on December 30, 1851 in Villa Rica, Georgia, and was the eighth of eleven children. He grew up during the time of the American Civil War. Candler’s father was a well-established merchant and property owner, but the war would take its toll on the family; they often had no more than the bare necessities. Candler’s formal education began when he was five years old, but was sporadic throughout. When he was ten years old, he left school and spent his time working on his father’s farm. While he could have opted to attend Emory College, he instead let his brother, Warren attend in his place.
Candler was anxious to enter the working world. He had an interest in the medical field, but with no money for medical school, he decided to pursue a career as a druggist. He took on an apprenticeship with two pharmacists in his hometown, but his earnings were meagre. So, Candler decided to move to Atlanta in search of better opportunities. In 1873, with just $1.75 in his pocket, Candler made the move to Atlanta and landed a job with a local druggist, George J. Howard. His early success and work ethic led to his promotion as chief clerk. However, after a falling out with Howard, Candler decided to strike out on his own and become his own boss.
Candler used to get migraines and one day they were so bad that he was willing to try whatever it took to get rid of it. He turned to a little known product that had been produced by a fellow Atlanta-based druggist, John Smyth Pemberton. Pemberton had created something called “Coca-Cola,” his own personal fizzy ‘brain tonic’ and headache medicine that combined coca leaves and kola nuts. He had been selling the drink for five cents a glass at his own drugstore. It was created in his back yard in a three-legged fifteen-gallon pot that stood over a fire, and when Candler sampled it, he was immediately hooked. In what appeared to be a rash decision to onlookers, Candler decided at once to sell his entire stock of drugs, paints, oils, glass, and fancy clothes. He sold off everything he could and raised roughly $50,000. He initially invested $500 into Pemberton’s company, but by the end of 1891, he had managed to gain control over the entire Coca-Cola product for just $2,300. He used the rest of the money to continue manufacturing and marketing the drink. Coca-Cola was born.
Action Item #1: Make People Remember Your Product
Action Item #2: Be Unique
Action Item #3: If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Asa Candler was a strong businessperson and aggressive when it came to all of his ventures, but he believed personal wealth should benefit the community. Unheard of in his day, he would challenge other wealthy business people to match everything he gave to charity. A lot of this money went towards the building of Wesley Memorial Hospital, which is now known as Emory University Hospital. Candler did a lot for education and is considered the founder of Emory University.
According to one story, he would not associate with other business people that did not share his point of view about giving back to the community. This feeling was proven in public when he slapped one of the richest men in Atlanta at the time for not giving money to help expand Emory University. This story ran in all the local newspapers and was front-page news for more than a week, until the wealthy businessperson finally gave $12,500 to the university and did it publicly.
“I wish that the characteristic excellence of our people may be made better and that the things which blemish our lives may be speedily obliterated.”
“The product sold itself, I just wanted to remind people it was one of a kind.”
“Every human life is made to fit some place, and there is a place for every life.”
Business Ideas: 3 Business Lessons From Visa Founder Dee Hock
Today we’re going to look at how a former brick mason refused to settle for less than he felt he deserved and went on to build one of the most successful financial companies in the world. This is the story of VISA founder Dee Hock and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people.” – Dee Hock
Dee Hock (born 1929) is the founder and former CEO of VISA. In 1968, when credit cards were first starting to get popular, Hock convinced the Bank of America to release control over their BankAmericard credit card program. He started a new company to control the credit cards. It was called National BankAmerica and later changed to VISA.
Hock came from a modest household. His father was a utility lineman and after marrying his high school sweetheart, Hock’s first jobs were working in a slaughterhouse and for a brick mason. He became interested in the banking world and walked away from three separate jobs at respected financial companies because he thought they were too hierarchical and controlling which limited his creativity.
Hock went looking for an opportunity to build a different type of organization, one that valued the creativity and enthusiasm of its employees. The result of this plan was VISA. Today VISA has over $8 billion in revenues and processes over 60 billion transactions per year.
Action Item #1: Hire People Different From You
Action Item #2: Be A Leader
Action Item #3: Empty Your Mind
“Failure is not to be feared. It is from failure that most growth comes; provided that one can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise about it, and try again.”
“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabelled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.”
“Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.”
Business Ideas: How to Grow, Be Opportunistic, and Ignore Your Critics Like Robert Johnson
Today we’re going to look at how a boy from a family of 10 in Mississippi kept his eyes open for opportunities and turned a $15,000 investment into multi-billion dollar empire. This is the story of Robert Johnson from B.E.T. and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Anything that has to do with money, I want to be in that business.” – Robert Johnson
Robert L. Johnson (born April 8, 1946) is an American businessman, best known for being the founder of television network Black Entertainment Television (BET). In 2001 Johnson became the first African American billionaire, and the first black person to be listed on any of Forbes world’s rich list.
Eleven years after its initial launch, BET became the first black-owned company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, BET has spinoff channels and is the largest black-owned cable company in history. Johnson bought back all the BET stock seven years after it went public for $1 billion. He then sold it to media giant Viacom two years later for $3 billion.
Action Item #1: Always Be Growing
Johnson has been called a serial entrepreneur thanks to his love of starting new businesses on the fly. Throughout his career, however, if there is one thing he has learned it is this: there are always new customers to go after.
According to Johnson: “If there’s something I can do and I feel it should be done, I just want to do it. I just don’t want to leave it undone because I’ll sit back and say, why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I start that business?”
Action Item #2: Be Opportunistic
Where Johnson sees the chance to make money, he jumps at it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And, while his critics use that fact as one more chance to knock him down, Johnson attributes his success largely to his opportunism. Johnson is an entrepreneur, plain and simple. He wanted to make money — and lots of it.
According to Johnson: “Whenever I see an opportunity and a chance to change something, I go at it… BET was never a legacy event for me. BET was something I started as an investment and I knew someday I would sell it.”
Action Item #3: Ignore Your Critics
Johnson had a lot of critics as he built his business. One of his greatest successes in his own mind is being an African American who succeeded at the highest level – since he felt that “nobody expects minorities to be there.” As much as others tried to paint his career in terms of black and white, Johnson has refused to let others identify him as anything other than an entrepreneur — and a good one at that.
According to Johnson: “Today, if I were to put on jeans and walk into a jewellery store, and I could probably buy the jewellery store ten times over. But the jeweller’s going to look at me as a black guy in jeans who probably can’t afford it, and maybe who just might steal something.”
Business Ideas – How Craigslist was created without a Business Plan
Today we’re going to take a closer look at how the son of a single parent and struggling bookkeeper became a successful Internet entrepreneur. Despite having started off with no business plan, this man built on of the top ten Internet sites in the world. This is the story of Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“From the very beginning, I was involved in talking to people, listening to people. And it hasn’t stopped. The idea was that people send me information; I’d ask them about it, listen, try to do something about it – and then ask for more feedback.” – Craig Newmark
Craig Newmark (born December 6, 1952) is an American entrepreneur that started with an idea to inform people that turned into Craigslist, a multimillion dollar Internet business. Newmark grew up in Morristown, New Jersey. His father, a salesman who peddled everything from food to insurance, died of lung cancer shortly after Newmark’s bar mitzvah. His mother worked as a bookkeeper and struggled to make ends meet after her husband passed away. Newmark went to Morristown High School, where he became co-captain of the debate team, and also an active member of the forensics club. He also started his own club, which met regularly to play the game Go.
A few years after graduating college, Newmark worked for IBM in Florida then for Charles Schwab in San Francisco. Newmark then began working as an independent consultant, taking on contracts with Bank of America, Xircom, Sun Microsystems and more. After several years of observing people on the Internet and how they used online tools to help each other out, Newmark decided to start his own email service to notify people about cool arts and technology events in San Francisco.
When Newmark’s simple email listings reached over 240 subscribers, he could no longer carry on as he was; even his cc field would not accept anymore email addresses. Instead of shutting down, Newmark decided to move his list to a public server for all to access. He wanted to call his new website “SF-Events” but some of his closer friends suggested calling it “Craigslist” to emphasize the personal and down-to-earth nature of the list. In its first few years, Newmark ran the site as a part-time hobby, continuing his consulting work full-time during the day. He tried to bring on some volunteers, but they did not pan out as Newmark expected. That is when he had an epiphany. He hired the right CEO and Craigslist took off. Craigslist was earning over $10 million in revenues by 2004. Then, in 2005, for a price tag of $15 million, eBay purchased a 25% stake in the company from a former shareholder. As of 2010, Craigslist was generating more than $122 million annually.
Action Item #1: Get Out of the Way
Action Item #2: Do Things Better
Action Item #3: Listen
Despite his professional successes, Newmark struggled personally. He enrolled in ballet and jazz dance classes in order to meet women only to wind up in the hospital with a hernia. No matter what most people say, one of the biggest reasons Newmark started Craigslist was because of his struggling personal life. He is a self-admitted nerd, which really turned off women. He thought it was a good idea to start helping people by starting an email service for others like himself.
After finally getting too many people using his email service, Newmark started Craigslist. According to him, it is the reason he has the girlfriend he has today. He likes to say that Craigslist has prevented hurting himself just to meet women. Out of this struggle for personal contact, Newmark built one of the top-ten websites in the world. According to recent statistics, more than five million people use the site every month and more than one billion pages of Craigslist are looked at every month.
“There are different flavors of libertarianism, but my take is that its core values ‘treat people like you want to be treated’ and ‘live and let live,’ which works for most humans.”
“It has helped people who have a hard time meeting other people. They’re using the site and becoming friends, lovers, and every possible twist on those two situations.”
“I admit that when I think of the money one could make from all this, I get a little twinge. But I’m pretty happy with nerd values: Get yourself a comfortable living, then do a little something to change the world.”
“Follow through with basic values, and remember to provide good customer service.”
Business Ideas – 3 Success Tips from Thomas Watson Jr. (IBM)
Today we’re going to take a closer at a boy that was only concerned with drinking and partying and how he turned his life around to become a man that took the reins of a multinational company and built a brand like no other. This is the story of former IBM President and CEO Thomas Watson Jr. and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Nothing is more vital to the continuous improvement of IBM than constructive suggestions or criticism by each of us – fairly given and fairly received.” – Thomas Watson Jr.
Thomas Watson Jr. (born January 14, 1914) was the son of IBM founder Thomas Watson Sr. When Thomas Watson Jr. stepped into his father’s shoes as president of IBM in 1952, he knew they would be hard ones to fill. Not long before that, Watson Jr.’s life had consisted in large part of drinking and partying. IBM had always been a part of his life, but only in the context of his father’s job. Was he ready to take the reins of this multinational company? Could he break out from his father’s shadow and create his own legacy?
In his teenage years, Watson Jr. began to suffer from depression. As a result, and also partly due to his undiagnosed dyslexia, he struggled to get through school. After being accepted into Brown University only as a favour to his prominent father, Watson received his business degree in 1937. Immediately upon graduating, Watson went to work for his father’s growing company, IBM. He had little interest in the job, but was unsure of what to do with his life. It wasn’t until World War II that Watson would find his calling. He enlisted in the Army Air Force and served as a pilot, chauffeuring top military leaders around the USSR — and learning Russian in the meantime. In later years, Watson Jr. would recall how easily piloting came to him and how for the first time ever he had confidence in his abilities.
It had been the suggestion of one of the army generals he had befriended during his service that Watson Jr. try to follow in the steps of his father. So, after the War, Watson Jr. did just that and returned to work at IBM. He was promptly promoted to Vice President after just six months, and placed on IBM’s board of directors four months after that. After three years with IBM, Watson Jr. had become the company’s Executive Vice-President, a position he would hold for another three years until 1952. It was in that year that Watson Sr. decided his eldest son was ready; no amount of additional grooming or training would prepare him for his next challenge. In 1952, Watson Sr. stepped aside and appointed his son as the new president of IBM. Indeed, Watson Jr. would not only create his own unique legacy as a businessman, but he would go on to become named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Under his leadership, IBM’s revenues tripled and the company experienced a rate of growth that few other companies can rival even today.
Action Item #1: Make the Workplace Great
Action Item #2: Satisfy Your Customers
Action Item #3: Integrate Integrity Into Your Business
Thomas Watson Sr. believed in staying with what you know, but Watson Jr. knew that this kind of thinking would not sustain a company forever. After taking over as President, Watson Jr. took the biggest risk he had ever taken by investing all of IBM’s finances into researching and developing a new product line. That amounted to $5 billion of the company’s money. This risk would not only bankrupt the company if it did not work, but make all the products IBM was currently making obsolete.
Watson Jr. was sure that developing a computer that everyone could use was the wave of the future and after several delays, as well as near bankruptcy, IBM launched the System/360 in 1966. Instantly, the new computer was selling to everyone that could afford it. Between 1966 and 1970, IBM was selling more than 35,000 computers a year, when before it was only selling around 11,000. IBM revenues surpassed $7.5 billion for the first time in company history during this time. The gamble paid off.
“It is essential for each of us to strive to retain originality and to maintain our identity as human beings.”
“This is a company of human beings not machines, personalities not products, people not real estate.”
“IBM’s dedication to the dignity of the individual is no myth. To me it is the very essence of our success.”
Business Ideas – 3 Business Lessons From Henry Ford
Today we’re going to look at how an entrepreneur who was told he wouldn’t last six months in business refused to give up and went on to become one of the wealthiest men in the world. This is the story of Henry Ford and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.” – Henry Ford
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 — April 7, 1947) was an American business icon and founder of the Ford Motor Company. He was the son of Irish immigrants and from an early age showed an interest in engineering. He set out to learn as much as he could and took various apprenticeships and jobs with manufacturing companies.
When he was 36 years old he invented the Quadricycle in his spare time. It was two bicycles attached together, powered by a gasoline engine. It was a very primitive car. After refining the vehicle he went to see William H. Murphy, a lumber tycoon and investor in Detroit, who took it for a test drive. Murphy agreed with Ford that gasoline-powered vehicles would be fuelling the future and the two instantly formed a partnership. Henry Ford was in business.
Ford not only revolutionized the manufacturing industry with assembly line mass production, he also became one of the richest and most well-known people in the world. According to Forbes, his net worth in today’s dollars would be $188.1 billion, over three times richer than Bill Gates.
Action Item #1: Don’t Quit
Action Item #2: Focus on Quality
Action Item #3: Build a Team
When Henry Ford implemented his assembly line idea he found that his workers were quickly getting burnt out doing the same thing over and over again. To attract the best people, Ford recommended to his stockholders that they pay the workers $5 per day, twice the daily average wage. His stockholders said no so Ford bought them out, implemented his $5 a day salary and quickly had people lining up to work for him.
“Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.”
“Most people get ahead during the time that others waste.”
Business Ideas – How to Master the Art of Selling Anything like John Johnson (Ebony)
Today we’re going to look at how a man went from living on welfare to becoming the first African American to make it onto the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world. By the time he died he was worth an estimated $600 million.
“When I see a barrier, I cry and I curse, and then I get a ladder and climb over it… Failure is a word I don’t accept.” – John Johnson
John Harold Johnson (January 19, 1918 — August 8, 2005) was an American businessman and publisher. He was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, and in 1982, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world.
Action Item #1: Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
Until you prove yourself as an entrepreneur you’re going to have a lot of people doubt your ability to succeed. They’ll tell you to “play it safe” and get a job. They might also tell you that your product or service idea has been done before or is too crazy to do well. Part of your entrepreneurial journey will be using criticism as a counsellor but not as a jailor – listen to what can help you and don’t let harsh words prevent you from moving forward on your dreams.
All his life, Johnson had been told that he would not amount to much. He was a victim of the racism that was so prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Time after time, Johnson was discouraged from thinking he could one day be great and was blocked every time he tried. In addition to being denied bank loans because he was black, Johnson found it impossible to even purchase an office for his new company once he had obtained the money. When Johnson went to purchase a building in Chicago’s downtown area to be his company’s headquarters, he couldn’t make the deal – he was refused the purchase because he was black.
But, like at so many other times in his life, Johnson refused to give up. He wasn’t going to let a racist property manager stand in the way of his success. His advice: “It’s better to get smart than to get mad… Long shots do come in and hard work, dedication and perseverance will overcome almost any prejudice and open almost any door.”
Action Item #2: Master the Art of the Sale
In his best-selling autobiography, Succeeding Against the Odds, Johnson wrote a chapter entitled, “How to Sell Anybody Anything in Five Minutes or Less.” Johnson’s elementary rule to making a sale was that your pitch “be based not on your self-interest but on their self-interest… When I go in to see I never say, ‘Help me because I am black’ or ‘Help me because I am a minority.’ I always talk about what we can do for them.”
Johnson had three rules for successful selling. First, he would grab the client’s attention in the first few seconds of a meeting with an emotional statement that “hits him where he lives or does business.” Second, Johnson would try to find his client’s vulnerable spot. He felt that “everybody has something that will make him or her move or says yes.”
Johnson’s final step was to find a similarity with his client. According to Johnson: “Successful selling is a matter of finding common ground, no matter how narrow it might be, on which you and your client can stand together… Whether I had five or thirty-five minutes, I always based my presentation on these three tried-and-tested rules.”
Action Item #3: Communicate Success
If you’re going to build a business beyond yourself you’re also going to have to work on your communication skills so your staff understand where you’re trying to take the company and how they can help you get there.
Johnson believed that if he couldn’t communicate effectively with his staff, it didn’t matter how good his product was, his company was not going to prosper. Developing this talent was something that Johnson took great pride in and he ensured his senior staff was equally trained in the art.
Here’s Johnson’s advice: “I was born in poverty and spent two years on the welfare rolls, and I learned early that I had to communicate or die. And so I talked my way out of poverty — I communicated my way to the top… I’m a hands-on, hands-in, hands-wrapped-around manager, and I believe it’s impossible to separate good management from good communication. For the best manager is the best communicator.”
Business Ideas: 3 Ways to Prevent Employees From Losing Interest In You (Issy Sharp Lessons)
Today we’re going to look at how a high school jock whose priority was partying turned his life around and built one of the most successful hotel chains in the world. This is the story of Issy Sharp from the Four Seasons and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Whatever you do, don’t ever use a crutch, and don’t ever think of having an excuse for not having said, ‘Yeah, I did my best.’ – Issy Sharp
Action Item #1: Inspire Your Employees
If you ever want to build a successful business beyond yourself you’re going to have to have a team of people working with you who are inspired to give their best every day.
Sharp didn’t become the leading luxury hotelier in the world all by himself. In the over fifty years he has been in the industry, Sharp has developed a unique leadership style that has encouraged his employees to devote 110 percent of themselves to the company. By creating a working environment that is built on trust, credibility, and integrity, Sharp has inspired his team to work to realize their best efforts. In the end, he understood that this was the secret ingredient to helping the company realize its best results.
According to Sharp: “We do that, first of all, by establishing a meaningful goal, an overriding purpose that most people can relate to. If the goal is clear and the focus is sharp and constantly reinforced, we unify and energize through a sense of common purpose that inspires employees to ardent effort.”
Action Item #2: Really Service Your Customers
The best companies are based on happy customers and repeat business. You want to strive to create an experience where your customers love buying from you and tell their friends as well.
In each and every one of its worldwide locations, the Four Seasons tends to set the top hotel price for the area – it is usually about 20 percent higher than its closest competitor. How can Sharp risk such a pricing policy? He does it by guaranteeing that his “guests get a fail-safe experience so that a company is eager to pay the extra $50 to ensure a hassle-free trip for an executive who might be working on a $50 million deal.”
According to Sharp: “Our competitors interpreted luxury chiefly as dazzling architecture and décor, but how important is that to our customers? They are mostly executives, often under pressure, fighting jet lag, stress and the clock. We decided to redefine luxury as service.”
Action Item #3: Live By The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule is to treat people as you would like to be treated. It’s not only a great way to achieve happiness as an entrepreneur, it’s also a highly profitable strategy.
The driving force behind Sharp’s success has been his desire to treat Four Seasons employees with the same level of respect that they in turn are expected to give their guests. The success of this policy has shown itself not only in terms of customer happiness but also employee engagement and satisfaction. For years, the Four Seasons has been the only Canadian company to land on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S.
According to Sharp: “We aimed to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. Enforcing our credo was the hardest part, and senior managers who couldn’t or wouldn’t live by it were weeded out within a few years… We hire for attitude. We want people who like other people and are, therefore, more motivated to serve them. Competence we can teach. Attitude is ingrained.”
Business Ideas: 3 Business Lessons From Howard Hughes
Today we’re going to look at how a young man, orphaned as a teenager, turned his love of aviation and created a multi-billion dollar fortune. This is the story of Howard Hughes and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“I intend to be the greatest golfer in the world, the finest film producer in Hollywood, the greatest pilot in the world, and the richest man in the world.” – Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (December 24, 1905 — April 5, 1976) was an American industrialist, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, philanthropist, and was one of the wealthiest people in the world.
When Hughes was a teenager he lost both his parents and was left with a family inheritance from money his father made by selling his inventions. Ever ambitious he was quoted as saying “I intend to be the greatest golfer in the world, the finest film producer in Hollywood, the greatest pilot in the world, and the richest man in the world.”
Hughes aggressively pursued business interests in Hollywood films, airlines, and hotels and casinos to expand his empire. He managed to turn his $1 million inheritance into a $2 billion fortune. Equivalent to $6.6 billion in today’s dollars, Howard Hughes was and still would be considered one of the richest men in the world.
Action Item #1: Surround Yourself With the Best
After inheriting his father’s company as a teenager, Hughes recognized that he didn’t have the knowhow to run the business and looked for someone who could. He hired 36 year-old Noah Dietrich to be his accountant and right-hand man on a $10,000 a year salary. For the next three decades, Dietrich eventually became director, vice-president and CEO of various branches of Hughes’ empire.
According to Robert Maheu, a chief advisor to Hughes: “Dietrich was delivering Howard profits of $50 to $55 million a year. Big bucks in those days.”
Action Item #2: Don’t Give Up On Your Goals
The Hughes H-4 Hercules was the world’s largest flying boat, the largest aircraft made from wood and had the biggest wingspan of any aircraft ever built. It was contracted by the U.S. government to transport troops across the Atlantic to avoid German U-boats in the Second World War. Nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” it was three times the size of the largest plane ever previously built. Nobody thought Hughes would ever get it off the ground but he kept pushing towards his goal despite the naysayers.
According to Hughes: “This thing was a black sheep. Nobody wanted to fool around with it or become contaminated by it. We were working in a complete vacuum as to information based upon prior performance and prior design… I defy anyone today to design an airplane substantially more efficient than this one for its purpose.”
Action Item #3: Be Hands On
With some of the best people in the industry working for him, Hughes could have chosen to distance himself from the goings on of his various enterprises. But, instead, Hughes chose to be hands-on, involving himself in even the smallest of details. He would personally test fly all the planes that he helped design. He often even put his own life at risk to involve himself and improve his product. He was also, for the most part, adored by his staff, who appreciated his hands-on approach and were inspired by his dedication and enthusiasm.
According to Hughes: “If I have made a mistake in the design, then I’m the one who should pay for it. I certainly would not ask somebody else to fly a plane if I were afraid to do it myself.”
Business Ideas – 3 Business Lessons From Philip Knight
Today we’re going to look at how a young man left the secure job that his father wanted him to take to follow his passion in the sporting world. He went on to build one of the most well known companies in the world. This is the story of Nike founder Philip Knight and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“We had no master plan. It was totally seat of the pants.” – Philip Knight
Philip Knight (born February 24, 1938) is the co-founder and Chairman of Nike. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Knight discovered he had a love for running and went to train with the legendary track coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon. In addition to coaching, Bowerman was experimenting with creating new types of shoes and Knight field tested them on the track for him.
After graduating, Knight went to graduate school at Stanford and signed up for a small business class. He had to create a business plan in the class and thought back to Bowerman’s shoes. In his business plan, Knight developed a blueprint for superior athletic shoes which could be produced cheaply in Japan. After taking a job as an accountant to make his father happy and hating it, Knight flew to Japan to find a factory to make the shoes. He returned home to create a partnership with Bowerman. They each invested $500 into the business and named it Blue Ribbon Sports (later changed to Nike). In its first year the company sold only $364 worth of shoes but Knight was determined to make the company work and stuck with it until it did.
Today Nike brings in almost $20 billion in revenue. Knight’s stake in the company gives him an estimated net worth of US$12.7 billion, making him the 60th richest person in the world.
Action Item #1: Have a Clear Focus
Action Item #2: Think of Business as War
Action Item #3: Just Do It
In 1972, Knight decided that his company, Blue Ribbon Sports, needed a new name and a new logo. Knight liked the name “Dimension Six” but his staff disagreed. One employee suggested “Nike” after the Greek goddess of victory.
Knight then paid $35 to Carolyn Davidson, a University of Oregon student, to design the now famous “swoosh” logo. At the time Knight said “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.” He was under a deadline to pick a logo so he went with it and a the new company was born.
“Ultimately, we wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus.”
“The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.”
“Everybody wants a certain amount of stress. Most people have too much, but I didn’t want too little, either.”
Business Ideas – 3 Success Lessons From Julie Aigner-Clark (Baby Einstein)
Today we’re going to take a closer look at a stay-home mom who just wanted to make a video to entertain and educate her children, but in the process helped develop a billion dollar business. This is the story of Baby Einstein developer Julie Aigner-Clark and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from her success.
“Before Baby Einstein, I was an English major in college and after that I was a teacher in high school and left when I had my first baby. At that time, there was nothing that existed that was fun educational videos for babies. That is when I realized that there was a need in the market place and best of all I was my own customer.” – Julie Aigner-Clark
Julie Aigner-Clark (born February 16, 1947) is an American entrepreneur that developed the Baby Einstein video series for children. She grew up in Michigan and went to Michigan State University, where she majored in the humanities. Right out of school, Aigner-Clark began teaching English to high school students. She was enjoying her new profession and her ability to help shape and educate young minds, when something happened that would change the course of her life forever.
After Aigner-Clark had her first daughter, she became fascinated by the latest research dealing with newborns and their capacity to learn. She began to search baby stores far and wide for material that was both educational and appropriate for her child’s development, while still being fun. At the end of her search, Aigner-Clark had come up empty handed. So she began to think about creating her own product. She thought that if she couldn’t find what she was looking for in stores, maybe other mothers were in the same situation. Being the busy mother that she was, however, she didn’t act on her idea until a full year later.
Along with her husband, Aigner-Clark borrowed a friend’s video camera and headed into her basement to film what would become the first of many Baby Einstein videos. With her baby as the live audience, her cat as a prop, and her husband as the videographer, the pair set out to create their vision. Turned down by many retailers, Aigner-Clark decided to hit the floors of toy trade shows to get the word out about her product. Still, she found it difficult to find people who shared her enthusiasm. Finally, however, Aigner-Clark was able to convince a buyer from The Right Stuff, a high-end toy retailer, to stock a few trial copies of her video in their stores. When they sold out within three days, The Right Stuff agreed to sign an exclusive deal with Aigner-Clark. Baby Einstein videos were now being distributed in 34 stores across the country, and selling out fast. Today, the Baby Einstein is being produced by Disney and total revenues are over $1 billion annually.
Action Item #1: Look for a Need
Action Item #2: Spread the Word
Action Item #3: Build a Brand
Julie Aigner-Clark fired up the TEDxDetroit Conference in Michigan in September 2011 by telling her remarkable story. The story began with her discovering that she had Stage 4 cancer and ended tearfully with her telling how she help build a billion dollar business while working at home in her pajamas. Aigner-Clark told the audience, “All the important work I have done in my life, I have done in my pajamas.”
Her inspiring story brought tears to everyone’s eyes, but part of the keynote address was Aigner-Clark’s lecture on the importance of self confidence, which she claimed helped her build the Baby Einstein video series and battle against breast cancer. Aigner-Clark told the crowd how you must believe in yourself, even if no one else does. Her powerful recovery from cancer, her creation of a billion-dollar business and her ability to raise three children are all attributed to her belief that anyone can do it as long as they have self confidence.
“In terms of regrets, I do not really have any. I have been able to be with my family much more than I ever could have for the past five years.”
“The response was amazing. Parents loved the video and it flew off the shelves, really by word of mouth.”
“In the first year, with one title, we made $100K in revenue. This was nearly five times my teaching salary.”
Business Ideas: My Favourite 5 Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launches of All Time
Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launch #5: Dana White Saves the UFC
White agreed and put his business on the line. The show became a huge success which ended with Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar fighting for a six-figure contract. White credits the show for saving the UFC and continued airing new seasons of The Ultimate Fighter to expand the awareness and popularity of his company.
Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launch #4: Philip Knight Signs Michael Jordan
The Air Jordan became the most valuable footwear franchise in Nike’s history. It was so popular that launch dates had to be postponed to weekends so kids wouldn’t be tempted to skip school to get their hands on the latest Air Jordan. The move took Nike from being a running shoe company with no exposure to the basketball market to now owning as much as 85% of the basketball shoe market.
Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launch #3: Bill Gates Pitches a Product that Doesn’t Exist
Bill Gates and long time friend Paul Allen turned their passion for programming into a business when they saw a picture of the Altair 8080 on the cover of Popular Electronics. Gates called Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the company that was manufacturing the Altair, and told them that he and Allen had developed a programming language for the computer that was ready to launch.
With not a single line of code written and no Altair to work on, Gates and Allen worked around the clock on Harvard computers to do what they said they had already done. Eight weeks later, Allen flew to MITS headquarters in New Mexico to present their code. Without even a test-run, their program was a success and MITS bought the rights, making it an industry standard. Within one year, Gates had dropped out of Harvard and the two high school friends established Microsoft Corporation.
Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launch #2: Richard Branson Drives a Tank into Times Square
To launch Virgin Cola he rode into Times Square in New York City on top of a tank, promising to battle with Coke and Pepsi. To launch Virgin Mobile in Canada he repelled into the heart of Yonge-Dundas square. Branson has also made several world record-breaking attempts. With “Virgin Atlantic Challenger” and “Virgin Atlantic Challenger II” he raced to have the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. In “Virgin Atlantic Flyer” he created the world’s largest hot air balloon and was the first to cross the Atlantic in a balloon. He then tried to become the first person to go around the world in a hot air balloon.
Branson is always thinking of new ways to launch and promote his businesses – the more high profile, the better. Even when his stunts don’t work out they garner so much attention for his businesses that it’s all worth it for him.
Gutsiest Entrepreneur Launch #1: P.T. Barnum Puts on a Show
Even if you didn’t have a ticket to his show, when Barnum’s circus was in town, you would know it. He would sweep into the city with gusto; elephants would be paraded through the streets, clowns would be sent to local hospitals to visit with sick children. Barnum provided a pre-show to his circus that he hoped would get people talking and raise excitement about his show. He would give tours of his circus to anyone who wanted to see inside the Big Top, and also put on multiple free contests in order to attract crowds to his show.
Barnum was always thinking of ways to promote both himself and his circus. From making splashy entrances to using cross-promotion, Barnum did what it took to make sure people knew who he was.
Business Ideas – 3 Success Lessons from Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com)
Today we’re going to take a look at how a man who came from a single parent family and was born to a teenage mother turned to his love of computer science and created a multi-billion dollar online business. This is the story of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“I’m going to do this crazy thing. I’m going to start this company selling books online.” – Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos was born on January 12, 1964 in New Mexico to his teenage mother, Jackie. She divorced Bezos’ father that same year. When Bezos was five-years-old, Jackie remarried to Miguel Bezos, a Cuban-born engineer for Exxon. The family moved to Houston, Texas, near a 25,000 acre ranch owned by Bezos’ maternal grandfather. It was here where Bezos would spend most of his summers, learning the basics of everything from veterinary care for cattle to repairing bulldozers in what he now calls “just an incredible, incredible experience.”
Even as a young child, Bezos showed signs of being mechanically gifted; he dismantled his own crib with a screwdriver and rigged his room with an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out. Bezos would go on to graduate from Princeton with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. Although he toyed with the idea of starting his own company, he decided to give himself more time to learn about the business world first. So, Bezos took a job with a brokerage firm on Wall Street, where he was able to use his computer skills to build networks that would help clear trades.
It was the spring of 1994 and the Internet was growing at 2,300 percent a year. Bezos immediately began looking into the top 20 mail order businesses to try and find the one that could be conducted more efficiently over the Internet. Finding no comprehensive mail order catalogue for books — it would be too big to mail — Bezos decided this would be the perfect product to sell over the Internet. The very next day, Bezos flew to the American Booksellers’ Convention in Los Angeles to better understand the industry. There he discovered that electronic lists of inventory for the major wholesalers already existed; Bezos would just have to create a single place on the Internet where consumers could go to search for and order the books they wanted. And that is what gave him the idea for Amazon.com. The rest is history.
Action Item #1: Throw Away the Rule Book
Action Item #2: Hire Quality Employees
Action Item #3: Think Long Term
A lot of people do not know that Amazon.com was not Jeff Bezos’ first business. While still in high school, Bezos started The Dream Institute. After working for McDonalds one summer, Bezos found out he did not like working for others, so he started a business of his own the next summer. The Dream Institute was a educational summer camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The entire camp was built around reading assignments and the youngsters comprehension of what he or she read. He charged $100 per camper and got six sign-ups for the camp. After that, he never liked working for any one again.
“It’s highly unlikely and that started me thinking, ‘What kind of business plan might make sense in that context of growth?’”
“We have so many customers who treat us so well, and we have the right kind of culture that obsesses over the customer.”
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”