Enterprise defines modern business. Business innovators are responsible for much of what we see around us. Be it the ones who built the railroads across much of the US in the mid-19th century or the dotcommers who spurred the adoption of Internet technology more rapidly than any other, entrepreneurs have always taken risks, done things differently; in the process, theyve broken old rules and created new ones. Not all entrepreneurs are successful. In fact, most fail. And even the successful ones have to endure failure. A mix of vision and will, combined with daring and determined execution combine to make possible some of the most successful entrepreneurs.
Tedlows book profiles seven extraordinary men doing what Americans do best: building new businesses. They overcame seemingly impossible obstacles to achieve enormous success and, in the process, played a role in the creation of the modern world. The seven: Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Thomas Watson Sr, Charles Revson, Sam Walton and Robert Noyce.
Writes Tedlow in his introduction:
These are seven stories about men who saw things others did not and made the most of their insight. They used tools that were available to others as well, but used them with greater skill.
For what purpose? To win. To own. To control. To create. This is the story of seven capitalists seizing opportunities in spite of what others saw as constraints.
These seven were all risk takers, innovators, experimenters. They were all more hungry for success than they were afraid of failure. They all had the courage to change not only when things were going badly but, and this is much more difficult, when things were going well.
In this context, it is interesting to read about two contemporary entrepreneurial companies. We have seen and perhaps even used either or both of their products and services, and that is what captures the imagination as we read about them.
The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon is written by its founder Frank Batten. As the title says, The Weather Channel is one of those unlikely success. Who would have imagined a channel talking about temperatures, isobars and storms to be so commercially successful? Who would have expected people in the US to watching of all the things a weather channel? It is a fascinating story of a channel and concept almost no one expected to succeed.
Piloting Palm by Andrea Butter and David Bogue is billed as the inside story of Palm, Handspring, and the birth of the billion-dollar handheld industry. Butter was a marketing executive at Palm from 1993 to 1999. Pogue is the personal technology columnist for the New York Times. Future success for Palm is still not guaranteed, even as it has split into two companies one focusing on the hardware and the other on the software. But the story makes fascinating reading.
Tomorrow: Dragon Stories