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Forbes Book Review

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Book Review: Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time

It would be an understatement to say that the twenty figures presented in Gross's Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time are success stories. These people have molded and shaped the way we live our everyday lives through their incredible achievements. Imagine starting with only a vision, while lacking the financial resources and personnel to make that dream a reality. This was the case for most of the entrepreneurs presented in this book. They found a way to create something out of nothing. Obviously, they had to overcome constant obstacles and setbacks on their way to success. A few also faced some morally challenging issues that may have been questionable, which will be addressed later. The striking similarities amongst some of the most innovative and recognized entrepreneurs in the world helped contribute to their revolutionary business ventures. By reading and analyzing this book, lessons and advice can be inferred and applied to our everyday lives.

By noting and analyzing the common character traits and themes among the major figures in the book, it will allow the reader to see how their accomplishments were achieved. A reason for many of these entrepreneurs' success was their attention to detail. Specifically, Robert Morris used his attention to detail to become the nation's first real businessman, establishing his reputation by gaining connections to important people. He used these characteristics to ultimately establish the Bank of North America as well as finance the U.S. during the American Revolution from his own resources. Ray Kroc also paid great attention to detail while establishing his McDonald's empire. While developing the concept of franchising, he expanded with the idea of continuity on his mind. He wanted the exact same product served at his restaurants all across the country. Sam Walton, creator of the Wal-Mart empire, was also someone who paid great attention to detail. He made sure every aspect of his company was operating efficiently enough in order for him to cut costs and make products more affordable for the public.

Another common thread tying these individuals together was their ability to be forward-thinking, imaginative, and innovative, giving them a competitive edge. Walt Disney is a prime example, creating memorable characters such as Mickey Mouse and Pinocchio. He came up with the first full-length animated film in history, called Snow White, leaving his competition in a trail of dust. His imagination is greatly displayed by his creation of Disneyland, the first theme park of its kind. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, also falls under this category. His creative genius spawned because of his ability to improve current products instead of simply creating new ones, understanding how quickly products become obsolete. John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, transformed the chaotic oil industry into an organized and efficient venture by setting up oil refineries all over the country.

A key component to success is appreciating and understanding the importance of your employees. Mary Kay, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, valued her employees greatly. She positively reinforced them with rewards, parties, and continuous praise. Henry Ford, creator of the Model T, introduced a minimum wage requirement, which in turn reduced employee turnover. Therefore, he did not have to waste more money on training new employees, which cut costs, and ultimately helped drive down the price of the Model T so that it was not considered a luxury. Sam Walton and Ray Kroc opened up the lines of communication and established personal relationships with their employees, which reduced employee turnover.

Many of these entrepreneurs were risk-takers. David Ogilvy, the creator of modern advertising, introduced extremely risky campaigns which made him noticeable to the public and ultimately successful. Walt Disney poured a great deal of his financial resources into the creation of his animated films and Disneyland, not knowing if they were going to pay off in the long run. John Johnson, founder of Ebony Magazine, took a risk because he was an African-American and racism was in full force at that time.

All of the figures presented in this book had to overcome barriers, challenges, and hardships on their way to the top. Each character experienced some sort of financial strain early in their careers. However they managed to advance in their respective industries with hard work and determination. A few entrepreneurs, including Robert Morris, Ford, Morgan, and Rockefeller had to deal with different wars at the time when they were trying to establish their businesses. Morgan specifically created stability in the nation and saved the country from going bankrupt amidst a shortage of cash thanks to his leadership. Disney overcame the early mistake of signing away his ownership rights to one of his successful cartoons, but this lapse of judgment only intensified his drive to succeed. John Johnson, mentioned previously, had to overcome racism on his way to success. Mary Kay had to overcome a great deal of gender discrimination, yet she still managed to empower women and instill a sense of importance in them. The company Harley-Davidson had to battle with Japanese competition and they forged ahead by mimicking their efficient practices. Although many of these entrepreneurs had great struggles, they saw these barriers as opportunities to get ahead of the competition, and therefore thrived in their respective industries.

Some of the figures presented in this book had to deal with morally challenged issues that were questionable and possibly unethical. John D. Rockefeller was a pertinent example due to the fact that he used his power to muscle rebates from the railroads, so that he would receive massive price reductions for a guaranteed shipment of cargo. These practices violated antitrust legislation at the time, but he never was accountable because of his power and influence. Robert Morris, while financing the U.S. during the American Revolution, also pursued profit-seeking speculations on the government's behalf. He should have been focusing all of his energies on the national



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