I recently watched the series “The Men Who Built America.” Many of the titans of industry in the early 1900’s were ruthless and driven not only by profit, but the need to be the best. While this is not bad in and of itself, some accomplished this mission through ruthlessness towards competition and labor alike.
One of the men stood out in this series to me: Henry Ford. Henry started an industry, not through ruthlessness, but through bold and audacious innovation. He perfected the Assembly Line which allowed him to lower his workers hours from 12 hours a day to 8 hours a day. He was also able to pay his people twice as much as general laborers were being paid in other industries. In so doing he accumulated Human Capital by drawing the best and the brightest society had to offer, and he remained competitive by using his technology to greatly reduce the man hours invested in each vehicle.
Below are a few quotes attributed to him.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
“I think that much of the advice given to young men about saving money is wrong. I never saved a cent until I was forty years old. I invested in myself – in study, in mastering my tools, in preparation. Many a man who is putting a few dollars a week into the bank would do much better to put it into himself.”
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”