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Business Ideas – 3 Success Tips from
Thomas Watson Jr. (IBM)
by Evan Carmichael
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.”
Human Data for Life: Jakob Eg Larsen
Over the last couple of years self-tracking has gained increased interest with the availability of smartphones and low-cost wearable sensors. The increasing quantities of data that we can capture about human behavior and interactions are key to future improvements in health and well-being.
Jakob Eg Larsen, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark, where he is working in the Cognitive Systems Section. His research interests include human-computer interaction, mobile and wearable computing and sensing, and personal informatics.
In Memory, gratitude and appreciation for those who gave all for our freedom!
Break the bias: Hideshi Hamaguchi
As the head of strategy at Ziba design, Hideshi uses visual models and frameworks to generate concepts and strategies, and is considered to be a leading mind in creative concept development, strategy building and decision management on both sides of the Pacific. In 1994 he created the first corporate intranet in Japan. In 2000 he led the core concept development for the world’s first USB flash drive. The process of innovation inspires him.
Novel Memories Slow Our Perception of Time
Neuroscientist and bestselling author David Eagleman explains why time seems to go faster as we age, saying, “The way we estimate duration has a lot to do with how much memory we’ve laid down.”
Can a 3D printer make guns?
3D Printers could soon have the ability to make guns — and now Congress could be getting involved. Joe Johns reports.
Build a 3D Printer That You Can Take Anywhere!
Got a briefcase? Then get to building your portable 3D printer. Make awesome 3D objects wherever you are – think of the possibilities!