To succeed in business today, you have to respond well to change, function within a team and be willing to take chances. Though times have changed since America’s greatest entrepreneurs made their marks, there is much to be learned from their words, wisdom and approaches to business. Here are the lessons of some of history’s best-known business success stories: Go beyond what is required of you. Andrew Carnegie earned $1.20 per week when he first came to the US from Scotland at age 12. In later years, his Carnegie Steel Co. sold 25% of all the nation's steel. His personal fortune was so great, he gave $325 million in turn-of-the-century dollars to charity. Carnegie said that the secret of his early success was not to ask “What must I do for my employer?” but, “What can I do?” “If all you do is work faithfully and conscientiously,” he said, “the verdict in such cases generally is that you perform your present duties so well that you had better continue to perform them.” Carnegie’s strategy: Find ways of improving the business that are beyond your own realm of responsibility. “You may be right or you may be wrong, but in either case you have gained the first condition of success,” said Carnegie. “You have attracted attention. Your initiative might sometimes put you into conflict with your superiors, but that is a risk worth taking.” “Boss your boss just as soon as you can,” Carnegie said. “There is nothing he will like so well, if he is the right kind of boss. If he is not, he is not the man for you to remain with. Leave him whenever you can, even at a present sacrifice, and find one capable of discerning genius.” Don't be afraid to change jobs. J.C. Penney’s first business venture was a butcher shop, which soon failed. Later he bought a one-third interest in the Wyoming dry goods store where he worked. In time, he turned that small stake into one of the nation's largest retailing chains. Penney said he personally interviewed as many as 5,000 individuals a year for jobs within his company, but rarely hired more than 100 of them. “The problem with the others,” he said, “was that they only had a desire for a new job, not the determination to win one.” Penney’s strategy: “I have to study very often the type of man who sticks at an unpromising job until he loses all hope, all initiative. I have to say, if you can’t see any future in your work, get out.” “Take a position at a lower salary, if necessary. If you lack the courage to make the plunge, stay where you are. But blame yourself, don't blame the job. Remember that desire is not determination. They both begin with the same letter, but they don't end on the same pinnacle of success.” Focus on what you do best. We think of P.T. Barnum as the showman who started a circus in 1871 and billed it as The Greatest Show on Earth. More important, though, Barnum was a highly successful businessman, with definite ideas on the qualities that made for success. Barnum’s strategy: Engage in one kind of business, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. “When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object,” he said, “his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain were occupied by a dozen different subjects at once.” Manage by allowing individual initiative. When Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., was elected president of General Motors in 1923, the company was described as “an orchestra without a conductor.” GM itself was a holding company, with decentralized management and virtually no coordination among divisions. Sloan proved himself a superb manager and turned GM into the world’s biggest and most profitable business. Sloan’s strategy: Big as GM was, Sloan’s efforts couldn’t have succeeded without the principle of individual initiative. Sloan passed along the word that what came from the executive suite weren’t orders, but recommendations that a manager could reject. “We do not issue orders,” he said. “I have never issued an order since I have been the operating head of the corporation.” At first, some managers found his approach too good to be true. “They began tentatively unleashing their brains and making important decisions, but they kept one eye on the general corporate office, expecting at any moment to receive a veto of their decisions,” he said. But no such thing happened. The more his managers understood his approach, the more willing they were to make and implement decisions. They began to think and act with more freedom and more effectiveness. Climb out of your rut. Henry Ford had little formal education. All he learned about business was self-taught. Yet his invention of the assembly line introduced the world to mass production. Less than 20 years after he founded it, Ford was making half the cars in the world. He said that what mystified him most were those who found life a battle, those who only “worked against a day when they might retire and live on an income.” Ford’s strategy: “If to petrify is success, all one has to do is to humor the lazy side of the mind. But if to grow is success, then one must wake up anew every morning and keep awake all day.” “Life, as I see it, is not a location, but a journey. Everything is in flux, and is meant to be. Life flows. We may live at the same number of the street, but it is never the same man who lives there.” Focus on being thorough. J. Ogden Armour inherited his family’s Armour meat-packing business in 1901. Warned by his father not to let wealth ruin him, J.O., as he was called, turned the company into a conglomerate with more than 3,000 products. Armour’s strategy: “Successful men show many contrasting characteristics. But the one quality that they never lack is thoroughness. Business is full of men who would be at the top if they had only learned to think their thoughts out to a conclusion. They know that two and two make four, but they never stop to think “four of what.” “Many of these halfway folks get by, but they never get far. The person who does his work painstakingly, with completeness and finality, is the man who will be trusted with more and more responsibility, up to the limit of his capacity.” “The man who informs himself adequately about his firm, its methods, its policies and its products, who does his work so well that no one need follow him up to patch the ragged edges, is on the safest, surest and shortest road to achievement.” ------------------- he odds in every casino are against you -- but they get much worse if you aren't in the right frame of mind when you begin to gamble. Here are my strategies for thinking smart and staying disciplined while gambling, which will help you minimize the casino's edge... Set rules before you go -- and don't violate them. Rules will protect you from getting psyched out. For example, I believe in budgeting your gambling stake for the length of your stay. Example: If you're going to be in Las Vegas for three days and you're willing to lose $900, your daily limit is $300. Determine how many times a day you'll gamble. If it's three times, set your per-session limit at $100. To get sufficient action, make your typical bet 2% to 3% of your per-session limit. With a $100 limit, you would bet no more than $2 to $3 at a time. Know your "win limit." Ask yourself, At what point during a session or an entire trip will I feel that I have won enough? I set both per-session and per-trip win limits. My per-trip limit is 50% of my total stake because I know that hot streaks last only so long. What if you hit your win limit and the cards or dice are still hot? Keep playing until you lose. When you do, stop. Before going down to a casino, remove all credit cards, bank cash cards and blank checks from your wallet. Credit or fast access to cash can cause you to break your rules. Maintain your sense of reality. Casinos have two goals -- to create an enjoyable fantasyland atmosphere and to take your money. How they do it: In a casino, everything is bright and the excitement flows. There are no clocks or windows to remind you of the real world outside. Money is also devalued. You don't bet money, you bet chips. The chips have deceptive nicknames. A $5 chip is a "nickel"... a $25 chip is a "quarter." In casinos, frugality is ridiculed. Self-defense: When you turn cash into chips, take a moment and think carefully about them. Those chips are as real as cash -- and as real as the money you're saving for your child's education or your retirement. It helps to think of gambling as if it's an important business meeting. That means no alcohol and not gambling for longer than one hour at a time. After that point, most people's mental toughness starts to erode. Fight negative thinking, which will only damage your performance. Examples of self-defeatist thinking... I don't really expect to win. If you're winning, I'm probably going to lose it all. It's time to stop playing when those thoughts go through your mind. Beware of the most dangerous hours. You're most vulnerable at two specific times -- during the first and the last hours of your trip. During your first hours, you risk feeling so eager for action that you're like a starving person who'll eat anything... or you're too tired or jet-lagged from your trip to concentrate. Strategy: If you're staying for several days, take a shower when you arrive. Then pursue some nongambling recreation and have a pleasant meal. Wait until your mind and body are feeling great. During your last hours, the temptation is to cast fate to the wind and say, Now I'm really going to go for it! If you're winning, you want more. If you're losing, you want to break even. Helpful: Remind yourself that you're at risk during these hours and the timing of this gambling session couldn't be worse. Wear a watch with an alarm that goes off at a set time to remind you to quit. And then tell yourself that you'll come back another time. Many gamblers have trouble leaving when they're even. They feel frustrated. They did well but have nothing to show for it. Helpful: Recognize you've done better than almost everyone else in town. And in reality, you still have the $100 or $250 or $1,000 you were willing to lose but didn't. Garage your winnings. You can't lose what you don't have. In the past, I've brought my stake in traveler's checks, along with up to 50 stamped, self-addressed envelopes. Reasons... Traveler's checks are not as convenient as cash. Since they must be signed before being cashed, I have a split second to think about whether I really want to use them for additional gambling. I also use the traveler's checks and envelopes to send home my winnings so I don't spend them. Example: If your session stake is $100 and you win $50, you can send $150 in traveler's checks to your home. If you lose $50, send the remaining $50 to your home. Casinos encourage you to lose in many ways. Losers are treated much better than winners. Garaging, however, encourages you to win. Each envelope sent home becomes a psychological victory over the tables. BOTTOM LINE Cut your losses -- but let your winnings run. Unfortunately, your emotions want you to do exactly the opposite. So -- never raise your bets while you're losing. An effective way to fight your emotions when you are losing is to leave a table if you lose five bets in a row. This strategy will help you feel better about this casino visit... and you'll feel more in control the next time. ---------------
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