#266 Henry Ford's Autobiography

Episode Summary

What I learned from rereading My Life and Work by Henry Ford.

Episode Notes

What I learned from rereading My Life and Work by Henry Ford.


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[7:45] True education is gained through the discipline of life.

[8:00] Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg. (Founders #263)

[9:40] Reading this book is like having a one-sided conversation with one of the greatest entrepreneurs to ever live who just speaks directly to you and tells you, “Hey this is my philosophy on company building.”

[12:40] His main idea is that business exists for one reason and one reason only —to provide service for other people.

[12:50] Everything I do is serving my true end — which is to make a product that makes other people's lives better.

[13:47] A sale is proof of utility.

[15:00] The sense of accomplishment from overcoming difficulty is satisfying in a way that a life of leisure and ease will never be.

[16:00] I think Amazon's culture is largely based on one thing. It's not based on 14. It's based on customer obsession. That is what Bezos would die on the hill for.  —Invest Like The Best: Ravi Gupta

[20:04] Later Bezos recalled speaking at an all-hands meeting called to address the assault by Barnes & Noble. “Look, you should wake up worried, terrified every morning,” he told his employees. “But don’t be worried about our competitors because they`re never going to send us any money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers and stay heads-down focused.” — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (Founders #179)

[20:40] Henry Fords philosophy: Get rid of waste, increase efficiency through thinking and technology, drop your prices and make more money with less profit per car, watch your costs religiously, when needed bring that business process in house, and always focus on service.

[21:15] Money comes naturally as the result of service.  —Henry Ford

[21:56] Churchill by Paul Johnson. (Founders #225)

[22:10] Churchill tells his son “Your idle and lazy life is very offensive to me. You appear to be leading a perfectly useless existence.”

[23:45] 3 part series on the founder of General Motors Billy Durant and Alfred Sloan:

Billy Durant Creator of General Motors: The Story of the Flamboyant Genius Who Helped Lead America into the Automobile Age by Lawrence Gustin. (Founders #120)

Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, A Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History by William Pelfrey. (Founders #121)

My Years with General Motors by Alfred Sloan. (Founders #122)

[24:16] Henry Ford's ONE idea that was different from every other automobile manufacturer:

He was determined to concentrate on the low end of the market, where he believed that high volume would drive costs down and at the same time feed even more demand for the product. It was a fundamental difference in philosophy.  — Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, A Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History by William Pelfrey. (Founders #121)

[25:50] There must be a better way of doing that. And so through a thousand processes.

[27:59] The only way to truly understand what you're doing is to do it for a long time and focus on it.

[28:30] It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game that you've been playing all your life. — Mickey Mantle

[32:25] One idea at a time is about as much as anyone can handle.

[35:45] Picking up horse shit used to be a job.

[37:30] That is the way with wise people — they are so wise and practical that they always know to a dot just why something cannot be done; they always know the limitations. That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work.

[38:20] I cannot say that it was hard work. No work with interest is ever hard.

[40:45] None of this works unless you bet on yourself. And usually you are not in the best position when you have to make this decision.

[49:59] The most beautiful things in the world are those from which all excess weight has been eliminated.

[50:15] Rick Rubin: In the Studio by Jake Brown. (Founders #245)

[54:10] I can entirely sympathize with the desire to quit a life of activity and retire to a life of ease. I have never felt the urge myself.

[55:30] I don't wanna make a low quality cheap product. I wanna make a high quality cheap product. To do that he's literally got to invent the ability to mass produce cars —which did not exist before Henry Ford.

[56:00] A principle rather than an individual is at work. And that the principle is so simple that it seems mysterious.

[56:25] He says if we can save 10 steps a day for each of the 12,000 employees that I have, you will save 50 miles of wasted motion and misspent energy every day. The way Ford’s brain works is very similar to the way Rockefeller's brain works. — Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

[58:25] What a line! : No one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible.

[59:10] I refuse to recognize that there are impossibilities. I cannot discover that any one knows enough about anything on this earth definitely to say what is and what is not possible.

[59:30] Not a single operation is ever considered as being done in the best or cheapest way in our company.

[1:01:05] Continuous improvement makes your business likely to survive economic downturns.

[1:05:27] “The definition of business is problems." His philosophy came down to a simple fact of business life: success lies not in the elimination of problems but in the art of creative, profitable problem solving. The best companies are those that distinguish themselves by solving problems most effectively. — Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer. (Founders #20)

[1:06:38] The best companies are those that distinguish themselves by solving problems most effectively.

[1:06:53] That is the point that Henry Ford is making. You should thank your stars for the problem that you're having because once you solve it, you will now have better problem solving abilities. And therefore it's likely over time, that your company becomes more successful as a result of you being forced into this very difficult position to actually grow and acquire these new skills, because business is problems.

[1:08:45] Lucas unapologetically invested in what he believed in the most: himself. —George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones. (Founders #35)

[1:12:35] Henry Ford distilled down to five words: maximum service at minimum cost.

[1:18:52] Every advance begins in a small way and with the individual.

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