#283 Andrew Carnegie

Episode Summary

What I learned from rereading The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie.

Episode Notes

What I learned from rereading The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie. 


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(1:01) 3 part series on Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick:

Meet You In Hell: Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America by Les Standiford. (Founders #73) 

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (Founders #74) 

Henry Clay Frick: The Life of the Perfect Capitalist by Quentin Skrabec Jr. (Founders #75) 

(2:00) What these guys all had in common is they were hell bent on knowing their business down to the last cent. They were obsessed with having the lowest cost structure in their industry.

(2:00) Highlights from Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America:

—Cut the prices, scoop the market, watch the costs, and the profits will take care of themselves.

—Frick knows his business down to the ground.

—Frick’s rise from humble beginnings was obviously intriguing to him. It signaled to Carnegie that Frick was another of the fellow “fittest,” and those were the individuals with whom Carnegie sought to align himself.

—Carnegie would repeat the mantra time and again: profits and prices were cyclical, subject to any number of transient forces of the marketplace. Costs, however, could be strictly controlled, and in Carnegie’s view, any savings achieved in the costs of goods were permanent.

—On this issue the two men were of one mind. Frick had made his way in coke by the same reckoning that Carnegie had in rail and steel: if you knew your costs down to the penny, you were always on firm ground.

(6:00) Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #115)

(7:00) A sunny disposition is worth more than a fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.

(7:00) The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. (Founders #100)

(8:00) The most important judge of your life story is yourself.

(9:00) You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son. —Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

(10:00) Invest in technology, the savings compound, it gives you an advantage over slower moving competitors, and can be the difference between a profit and a loss.

(17:00) He is working from sunrise to sunset for $1.20 a week and he is ecstatic about being able to help his family avoid poverty. 

(18:00) Andrew Carnegie had manic levels of optimism.

(20:00) Do not delay. Do it now. It is a great mistake not to seize the opportunity. Having got myself in, I proposed to stay there if I could.

(21:00) I felt that my foot was upon the ladder and that I was about to climb.

(21:00) Lesson from Andrew Carnegie’s early life: Focus on whatever job is in front of you at this very moment and do the best you can. You can never know what opportunities that will unlock in the future.

(24:00) On the miracle of reading and having free access to a 400 volume personal library: In this way the windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in. Every day's toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty. And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained.

(26:00) To Colonel James Anderson, Founder of Free Libraries in Western Pennsylvania:

He opened his Library to working boys and upon Saturday afternoons acted as librarian, thus dedicating not only his books but himself to the noble work. This monument is erected in grateful remembrance by Andrew Carnegie, one of the "working boys" to whom were thus opened the precious treasures of knowledge and imagination through which youth may ascend.

(28:00) Running Down A Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

(36:00) Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (Founders #258)

(43:00) This policy is a true secret of success: Uphill work it will be.

(46:00) Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.

(46:00) The most expensive way to pay for anything is with time.

(48:00) The men who have succeeded are men who have chosen one line and stuck to it. It is surprising how few men appreciate the enormous dividends derivable from investment in their own business.

(48:00) My advice to young men would be not only to concentrate their whole time and attention on the one business in life in which they engage, but to put every dollar of their capital into it.

(51:00) The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow. (Founders #139)

(52:00) Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford. (Founders #247)


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