I am not a history buff by a long shot, but that show "Men Who Built America" on History Channel has me hooked. I am fascinated by the personalities of Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and the others. It's really opened my eyes to what goes into being a trailblazer and phenomenally successful entrepreneur.
There was one lesson that really stood out to me:
These titans of business would look for business associates who had totally different skillsets from themselves. By adding someone to the team who could do things that they could not, the company developed an edge that it wouldn't have otherwise.
These men were good at recognizing their strengths and weaknesses and were also good at identifying people who were strong where they were weak.
Several of the modern day business titans interviewed for the TV series agreed that that is how business partnerships today are made as well--you want to work with someone who is good at the things that you're not good at.
That is also what wise people do who enlist the services of a virtual assistant. They know they are not administrative people--their skills lie in another area. So, instead of spending time trying to do something that they're not cut out to do, they outsource the parts of their business that someone would do better. That is when the business starts to really take off.
I am an organizer, a teacher, a writer, a customer relations specialist, and administrative get-er-doner. A person with a successful business would not necessarily be strong in those areas, but yet he or she needs someone who is so that the business can thrive.
I knew that principle was at work between me and my clients, but I didn't realize that it was a principle that legendary business moguls used to get ahead. Really, if they didn't seek out others who had different strengths from themselves, they would have never accomplished the amazing things they did.
These men from "The Men Who Built America" may have been lone rangers in their personal work styles, but they were not afraid to outsource work to others.
Here are some other things I've learned from the "Men Who Build America" series:
- These men don't necessarily invent things, but they are good at spotting a good invention and making it so that that invention can make money on an ongoing basis. Carnegie didn't invent steel or the machine that could refine steel. Instead he searched for the person who had already done that, and he used that invention to make his own steel plants. Interestingly, Carnegie probably made much more money than the original person who figured how to make the steel.
- They are good at convincing people to invest money in their ideas, and they are willing to risk everything for their idea. They are not careful--they really are risk takers and place everything on the line.
- They thrive on competition. I get the impression that business is a big game to them, and their goal in life is to win at all costs. Competitors spur them on and make the game fun.
- They seem less concerned with making money and more concerned with winning. The money is just a tool in the game, a measurement of who is winning.
- They are never satisfied. No matter how much money they have or how big their business is, they always want to raise the stakes.
- They think about "going down in history" and leaving a legacy. It is very important to them that they are remembered.
- They are trying to prove something to themselves and others. The movie went into the motivations of each man. For example, Carnegie came from a very poor family and he had to be the breadwinner from a young age. That early experience really drove him to succeed in business. He never forgot the bad experiences in his life. Rather, he used them to spur him on.
- All of these men were optimists. When bad breaks happened or things didn't go their way, they didn't give up, but rather took it as an opportunity to come up with a different solution. They always believed there was a way for them to win.
In case you haven't seen the show, here is a clip from the History Channel called "Traits Of A Titan". (There may be a commercial at the beginning, but you can skip it after a few seconds):