|Foreward by Timothy C. Forbes||1|
|Robert Morris: America's First Financier||4|
|Cyrus McCormick's Reaper and the Industrialization of Farming||22|
|John D. Rockefeller and the Modern Corporation||40|
|J. P. Morgan Saves the Country||58|
|Henry Ford and the Model T||74|
|Charles Merrill and the Democratization of Stock Ownership||90|
|David Sarnoff, RCA, and the Rise of Broadcasting||106|
|Walt Disney and his Family-Entertainment Empire||122|
|John H. Johnson: Finding the Black Consumer||142|
|David Ogilvy and the Creation of Modern Advertising||158|
|Ray Kroc, McDonald's, and the Fast-Food Industry||176|
|Betting the Company: Joseph Wilson and the Xerox 914||194|
|American Express and the Charge Card||212|
|Mary Kay Ash and her Corporate Culture for Women||232|
|Intel's Microprocessor and the Computer Revolution||246|
|Sam Walton, Wal-Mart, and the Discounting of America||266|
|William McGowan and MCI: A New World of Telecommunications||284|
|The Turnaround at Harley-Davidson||298|
|Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and the Leveraged Buyout||314|
|William Gates and the Dominance of Microsoft||334|
|Notes on Sources||352|
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."
Timothy C. Forbes
July 28, 1996
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.