16 Timeless Lessons on Leadership and Business from Steel Tycoon and Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American philanthropist and a business magnate, is a striking example of a self-made man. Andrew came from a simple family and in the age of 13 he moved with his parents and brother to America, the land of opportunities and great perspectives.
Young enthusiast was supposed to help his family establish life at the new place, so he started working at cotton factory. He wrote about this period of life in his autobiography: "My first work was done there at 1 dollar and 20 cents per week. It was a hard life. In the winter father and i had to rise and breakfast in the darkness, reach the factory before it was daylight, and, with a short interval for lunch, work till after dark. The hours hung heavily upon me and in the work itself i took no pleasure. But the cloud had a silver lining, as it gave me the feeling that i was doing something for my world - our family".
Since work at factory didn't bring sufficient sum of money to help family get out of poverty, Carnegie began working as a telegraph messenger boy. Soon he was promoted to a position of operator. Carnegie's perseverance, positive attitude towards life, willingness for hard work and ability to make connections helped him move up the career ladder and establish foundation for his future success.
Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Steel Company and was the first to revolutionize steel industry in the United States. His remarkable leadership skills, winning mindset and wise approach helped him turn his company into the largest and the most profitable enterprise of the 19th century.
He also approached the distribution of wealth, which he earned while running his business, in a different way. In his article "Gospel of wealth” he states that "the fortune earned should be spent for public purposes from which the masses reap the principal benefit”. With this aim Andrew funded the establishment of Carnegie Institute of Technology, Carnegie Institution at Washington, Carnegie Hall in New York City, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Hero Fund for the recognition of deeds of heroism, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. He also established libraries throughout the US, the UK and other English-speaking countries.
His books "Triumphant Democracy”, "The empire of business”, "The secret of business is the management of men” became must-read educative materials for every person who aspires to achieve whopping success in business.
In his autobiography, Andrew Carnegie shares with readers not merely his life story, but also a vast amount of lessons on life, business, education, leadership, management and relationship between people. The most notable, in my opinion, are the following :
On the importance of putting knowledge into action
Whenever one learns to do anything he has never to wait long for an opportunity of putting his knowledge to use.
On the qualities that lay the foundation for greatness
Patience and perseverance make the man.
On the power of taking small steps
Tall oaks from little acorns grow.
On quality as a backbone of manufacturing process
The surest foundation of a manufacturing concern is quality. After that, and a long way after, comes cost.
On the power of optimism
All is well until the stroke falls, and even then 9 times out of 10 it’s not so bad as anticipated. A wise man is the confirmed optimist.
On the power of employee recognition and appreciation
There have been many incidents in my business life proving that labor troubles aren’t solely founded upon wages. I believe the best preventive of quarrels to be recognition of, and sincere interest in, the employees, satisfying them that u really care for them and that u rejoice in their success.
On the impact of decisions made in crisis
There are times in most men’s lives that test whether they may be dross or pure gold. It’s the decision made in the crisis which proves the man.
On the power of one’s words
While one is known by the company he keeps it is equally true that one is known by the stories he tells.
On the power of self-regard
No man can dishonor me except myself. Honor wounds must be self-inflicted.
On the negative impact of ignorance on relationships
Mutual ignorance breeds mutual distrust.
On flexibility and ability to accept the inevitable
Whether the change be for good or ill, it is upon us, beyond our power to alter, and therefore to be accepted and made the best of. It’s a waste of time to criticize the inevitable.
On the power of attention and kindness
Slight attention or a kind word to the humble often bring back reward as great as it is unlooked-for. No kind action is ever lost. Even to this day I occasionally meet men whom I had forgotten, who recall some trifling attention I have been able to pay them.
On positive thinking
A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated, that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.
On details and how small things can make a big difference
The young should remember that upon trifles the best gifts of the gods often hang.
On taking the path less travelled by
What others wouldn’t or couldn’t do we would attempt, and this was a rule of our business which was strictly adhered to.
On public speaking
When you stand up before an audience, reflect that there are before you only men and women. You should speak to them as you speak to other men and women in daily intercourse. If you’re not trying to be something different from yourself, there is no more occasion for embarrassment than if you were talking in your office to a party of your own people. It’s trying to be other than one’s self that unmans one. Be your own natural self and go ahead.
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska
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