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The following material is copyright © 1996, Byron Preiss Visual Publications, Inc. and Forbes Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. No use may be made of this material without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Table of Contents

Foreward by Timothy C. Forbes1
Robert Morris: America's First Financier4
Cyrus McCormick's Reaper and the Industrialization of Farming22
John D. Rockefeller and the Modern Corporation40
J. P. Morgan Saves the Country58
Henry Ford and the Model T74
Charles Merrill and the Democratization of Stock Ownership90
David Sarnoff, RCA, and the Rise of Broadcasting106
Walt Disney and his Family-Entertainment Empire122
John H. Johnson: Finding the Black Consumer142
David Ogilvy and the Creation of Modern Advertising158
Ray Kroc, McDonald's, and the Fast-Food Industry176
Betting the Company: Joseph Wilson and the Xerox 914194
American Express and the Charge Card212
Mary Kay Ash and her Corporate Culture for Women232
Intel's Microprocessor and the Computer Revolution246
Sam Walton, Wal-Mart, and the Discounting of America266
William McGowan and MCI: A New World of Telecommunications284
The Turnaround at Harley-Davidson298
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and the Leveraged Buyout314
William Gates and the Dominance of Microsoft334
Notes on Sources352


This is a book of heroes. Make no mistake about it. The people whose stories are collected here earned status as any soldier or athlete or explorer or statesman you can name. By making and selling, by organizing and financing, by discerning and serving the needs and desires of others, they have done more to affect who we are and what we are today than all but a handful of history makers.

In doing so, most of them get rich; some, very rich. Indeed, names such as Morgan, Rockefeller, and now Gates are virtual synonyms for vast wealth. But for all the success told of here, these are far from tales of greed and avarice.

Wal-Mart gave rural Americans, people of modest means, more choice and quality for less cost. Its founder, Sam Walton, became the richest man in the world -- his fortune was worth close to $28 billion when he died in 1992 -- by stretching other people's scarce and hard-earned dollars further. He improved on the quality of life for millions of people. That is his real legacy, and it points to the ethical heart of business: service to others. Without it, no enterprise and no entrepreneur can succeed.

"Success is coming to be spelt service" is how my grandfather, B.C. Forbes, put it in the introduction to his 1917 book, Men What Are Making America. In many ways, this current volume is descended from that extraordinary collection of biographical sketches that made his reputation. Its success enabled him to start Forbes magazine.

Personality stories are common coin today in business journalism, as they are everywhere else. But in the early decades of the twentieth century, prior to my grandfather's efforts, business reporting consisted of not much more than dry statistics. There was little attention regularly paid by the press to the people behind the figures. In a very real way, B.C. Forbes pioneered a new genre of journalism. In fact, he was widely regarded as "the humanizer of business."

A poor Scottish immigrant who made good himself, my grandfather believed passionately in America as the land of opportunity and in the possibilities for individuals to succeed here. He saw his profiles of the great business leaders of his day as being, first and foremost, educational and inspirational for common souls like himself. They were real-life Horatio Alger stories. Today you would probably find them in the self-help section of the bookstore.

They were lessons in basic virtues, such as integrity, self-denial, hard work, self-reliance, ambition, courage, and, perhaps above all, what his era called stick-to-itiveness. With these qualities, B.C. was convinced anyone could better himself. He was also very aware of what he called the "rarer and higher qualities" that marked the subjects of his profiles -- and those collected here.

Not many are endowed with the talents to become a Henry Ford or a John Johnson or a Mary Kay Ash. Still, we can strive, and there is little doubt that we will be more successful for the effort than we would have been otherwise. That was the essence of B.C. Forbes' message eighty years ago and of ours today.

I can think of no better way to conclude this foreward than by quoting from him: "How can I attain success? That is what every rational human being wants to know."

Read on!

Timothy C. Forbes
July 28, 1996

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All sample material is copyright © 1996, Byron Preiss Visual Publications, Inc. and Forbes Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. No use may be made of this material without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

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