Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Succeeding With What You Have by Charles Schwab

Synopsis of Content:

Charles Schwab wrote a very small book which became a classic soon after it was first published in 1920. In this book a man who had risen from rags to riches in reality tells his fellow man how it is done.

He begins by instructing people to think beyond their job. He gives examples from his own experience in America's early steel industry of men who intended to amount to something more than a wage earner, worked hard, and utilized the other principles outlined in this little book.

First he counsels the value of hard honest work. Next he speaks of giving more than fair service for the pay. Then he teaches men to think continually on how the business might be improved and communicate those ideas in little ways.

Next is a chapter on how men are appraised on the job, seizing opportunities, the relative value of a college education, what employers expect, how he sees his employees as partners, men with whom he has worked and a woman's part in a man's success.

Some of this material, especially the last chapter, is very dated and possibly of little use today. However much of what is written here is still as true today as it was in 1920. Hard work, dedication to your goals, going the extra mile, maintaining a good and positive attitude, making a difference, all remain vital steps toward success in a business or in life.

Readability/Writing Quality:

For a book written in 1920 it is surprisingly readable. In part this is due to its small size, a pocket edition having only 55 pages which could be easily read by most in a single evening. The chapters are short enough and well written. Quotes he wishes emphasized are in bold.

Notes on Author:

Charles Schwab was a remarkable man. He started as a stake driver, a minimally paid hourly wage earner in Andrew Carnegie's steel mills. He had little education and came from poor roots.

Carnegie took notice of him however because of his charming personality, incredibly positive attitude, great work ethic and willingness to please. He was just the kind of young man Carnegie was looking to mold and develop into executive material. Schwab did not disappoint and he eventually became Carnegie's chief man and the first President of a corporation to earn one million dollars a year in compensation.

Through his wit, intelligence, charm and hard work he engineered the buyout of Carnegie Steel and the creation of US Steel. He then became the first President of US Steel and a short time later President of Bethlehem Steel. He was known as a master motivator of men and Thomas Edison referred to him as a master hustler.

Sadly despite a meteoric rise to incredible riches and power, Schwab came to a very poor end. In the 1920s, after having written this book, he squandered much of his wealth gambling, spending and carousing. He seemed to lose sight of his own roots and senses and became a spendthrift. In time he was in trouble and then the stock market crash of 1929 left him destitute.

In 1939 he died a poor man, deeply in debt, living off of loans in a small London apartment. On his death he owned a large amount of Bethlehem Steel stock, which during the depression was near worthless. Just a couple years later however it became very valuable as the steel industry boomed during the war.

Despite his sad end, Schwab had very clearly demonstrated in his younger years how to succeed and how to go from poverty to riches.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. Successful men are not natural prodigies. They win by using normal brains to think beyond their manifest daily duty. The look beyond the day's labor and the day's meal.

2. The real test of business greatness is in giving opportunity to others. Many fail in business because they are thinking only of their own personal gain and glory.

3. Personality is a key asset. If you have it, cherish it. If you do not, cultivate it.

Publication Information:

Succeeding With What You Have by Charles M. Schwab

This book is out of copyright however it is published by Executive Books in booklet form, costing less than $2, with a copyright of 2005 by Executive Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

General Rating: Fair, >Good<, Very Good, Excellent

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