I always wanted to write about some of the greatest men of business who really made a difference to the world. These are the great men who not only contributed to the economic development of their nations, but a left a legacy endearing and useful forever for the development of society and human thought. I am starting this series of articles with the man I consider the foremost in his contribution to the mankind.
If you have read the legendary book on life success “Think & Grow Rich” you might remember Andrew Carnegie. He was the inspiration behind one of the highest selling motivational and self development book in the history of publishing perhaps next only to Bible. The book is a lasting legacy of a man who lived life to the fullest and fulfilled all that he desired.
At the time of his death in 1919 most of his remaining wealth of $30,000,000 was given away to charities, pension funds and foundations apart from few millions and his real estates which he left for his family. He had already given away approximately 4.5 billion dollars adjusted to 2005 figures to various charities and donations.
Andrew Carnegie symbolized everything that you may call as success. He was flamboyant, highly ambitious, lived a life that only one can dream of, owned businesses across many continents and countries, worked hard and played hard. He carried power within governments and in public.
He is said to be the second richest man in history. He built one of the largest and most powerful steel conglomerates in the world and finally sold it to donate most of the proceeds to charity. Among other institutions he created the Carnegie Mellon University
Andrew Carnegie rose up from poverty with a fierce ambition and embodies all that a self development Guru would dream about.
Andrew Carnegie migrated to America from Scotland with his parents to escape poverty due to destruction of the crafts practiced by his parents by the Industrial Revolution. The abject poverty of his childhood created a steely resolve to overcome poverty and earn the riches that he owned later.
Starting $1.20 a week, he slowly moved up the ladder and became a private secretary of legendary Thomas A. Scott of Pennsylvania Railroad at a princely salary $ 35.
During this time Civil War had broken out. The military requirements were driving the steel Industry. Once the Civil War was over Andrew Carnegie decided to quit his work and enter the Steel Industry.
“I think Carnegie’s genius was first of all, an ability to foresee how things were going to change,” says historian John Ingram. “Once he saw that something was of potential benefit to him, he was willing to invest enormously in it.”
His move up in the industrial world is well documented. However what is not much known is his thirst for knowledge and philanthropic leanings.
“I propose to take an income no greater than $50,000 per annum! Beyond this I need ever earn, make no effort to increase my fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes! Let us cast aside business forever, except for others. Let us settle in Oxford and I shall get a thorough education, making the acquaintance of literary men. I figure that this will take three years active work. I shall pay especial attention to speaking in public. We can settle in London and I can purchase a controlling interest in some newspaper or live review and give the general management of it attention, taking part in public matters, especially those connected with education and improvement of the poorer classes. Man must have an idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately; therefore should I be careful to choose that life which will be the most elevating in its character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five, but during these ensuing two years I wish to spend the afternoons in receiving instruction and in reading systematically!”
He sold his steel empire at the age of 64 for $ 480 million and became the richest man in the world. Thereafter he turned his attention to giving away his fortune which was one of his avowed wish mentioned in the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’. While he was highly philanthropic he detested charity. He donated most of his money to establishing libraries and institutes of higher learning.
Andrew Carnegie ardently believed in helping people to help them selves. It is said that hundreds of the richest and powerful men in the world have claimed to have become rich and successful after reading the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’. He inspired the writing of Think and Grow Rich which remains to this day the classic of motivation and self development.