Episode #1 of the course “History’s greatest entrepreneurs”
One of the greatest American “rags to riches” stories, Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Scotland and immigrated with his family to the US when he was a boy. As the father of the 19th-century steel industry, Carnegie is remembered for his philanthropic and humanitarian contributions, in addition to his entrepreneurial successes. The famous Carnegie Music Hall in New York bears his legacy, as does Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. Even a cactus is named after the man who was the third wealthiest in the world in his time.
Andrew Carnegie grew up in poverty, and he began working in a cotton factory and as a telegraph delivery boy in his teen years. He worked his way up through the ranks as a telegraph operator, and then a superintendent. All the while, he made small but smart investments with his weekly earnings. Carnegie made investments in railroad delivery companies, then included railroad supply companies. During the US Civil War, the US government came to Carnegie to negotiate the expansion of telegraph lines and railroad supply lines because of the social connections he had been cultivating for decades.
For the second half of the 19th century, Carnegie continued to invest in US steel infrastructure, such as railroads and bridges. By 1901 saw the need for an integrated company that brought together the financial investment and production aspects of the industry. He sold his Carnegie Steel Company and formed the U.S. Steel Corporation. It was the first company merger worth over $1 billion.
Before his death, Andrew Carnegie had donated nearly 90% of his fortune. He built libraries and research centers, concert halls and laboratories. He wrote extensively on the philosophy of wealth and publically proclaimed that philanthropy was key to making a wealthy life worthwhile.
“Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”
“The way to become rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.”
“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.”
“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”
Book: “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw
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