Written by Dave Edwards
Taking Inspiration from Successful Leaders
BLOG– The USA was built by entrepreneurs, ambitious people who, despite all the obstacles facing them, possessed the single-minded determination to succeed. If the country is to recover from the recession, it’s essential that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, who are still at college, be provided with the motivation to get out there and work hard to build innovative companies and create new employment opportunities.
Here are the stories of just three of the country’s most inspirational entrepreneurs of the past century:
Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland; his mother was a hand-loom weaver who lived in a one-room house. To escape the unrelenting poverty the Carnegie family moved to the USA, settling in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where 13 year-old Andrew got himself a job changing cotton reels, 12 hours a day, six days a week.
By 1853, Carnegie was working as assistant and telegrapher to one of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s managers and within three years was promoted to superintendent. He used this time to invest in various industries, most notably oil. By 1865 his businesses interests included the Carnegie Steel Company, an enterprise that expanded rapidly thanks to the highly efficient methods he used to manufacture steel. However, what really made Carnegie so successful was that he owned everything he needed; railroads and ships to transport raw materials, iron ore mines and the coal that fired the furnaces.
By the time he sold the Carnegie Steel Corporation to J.P. Morgan for $480m in 1889, he was the wealthiest man on Earth and spent the rest of his life as a philanthropist, supporting Pittsburg’s Carnegie Mellon University and the New York Public Library.
Born in New York in 1944, Larry Ellison was the son of an unwed Jewish mother and an Italian-American Air Force pilot. He grew up in Chicago; having contracted pneumonia at the age of nine months, he was adopted by his mother’s aunt and uncle. Following the death of his aunt, Ellison dropped out of university in his second year.
In 1966, he returned to college in Chicago, discovered computer design and in 1977 moved to
Northern California where he and two partners founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL).
In 1982, he changed the company’s name to Oracle Systems Corporation and the rest is history. In September 2014, Ellison stepped down as chief executive, leaving a company worth some $182bn.
He is the third richest person in the USA with a net worth of $51.4bn.
Steve Wynn was born in 1942 in New Haven, Connecticut, where his father ran a string of bingo parlors. Steve was raised in Utica, New York and went on to study English literature and cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959. In 1963, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature.
Having taken over the family bingo business, which he made a great success of, he moved to Las Vegas, taking a stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino. Between 1967 and 1989, he purchased or built a string of iconic hotels and casinos. Today, he has similar properties in Macau, Atlantic City and Boston. Currently worth $4bn, Steve Wynn lives in a private villa at Wynn Las Vegas.
So there you have three very different entrepreneurs, working in equally diverse industries, but sharing three common attributes; determination to overcome adversity, hunger for success and an unwavering conviction that they would make it, no matter what.