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Inspiration from John D. Rockefeller

Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes

John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937), America’s first billionaire, was the driving force behind the creation and development of the Standard Oil Company and one of the first major philanthropists in the U.S.

Success is having diligence. Rockefeller’s first job was working as an assistant bookkeeper for less than four dollars a week. He showed a talent for detail and a strong work ethic from the beginning. In 1859, Rockefeller’s diligence was rewarded, and he was made a partner.

Success is seeing opportunity where others only see misfortune. “I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.”

Success is putting your own money on the line and taking risks. In 1859, with $1,000 Rockefeller had saved and another $1,000 borrowed from his father, Rockefeller formed a partnership in the commission business with Maurice B. Clark, which would be the beginning of his lucrative business career.

Success is based in part on aptitude. The commission merchant business was very competitive, and Clark & Rockefeller’s success was due in large part to Rockefeller’s natural business abilities.

Success is encouraging leadership in others. “Good leadership consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”

Success is sharing. Rockefeller was 57 years old when he focused his efforts on philanthropy, giving away the bulk of his fortune in ways designed to do the most good as determined by careful study, experience, and the help of expert advisers.

Success is knowing the power of money—the good and the bad. “The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my servant and not make myself a slave to the money...”

Success does not mean being perfect. Rockefeller appeared to many to be a man of contradictions. He eagerly crushed his competitors, “ruining” hundreds of lives in his pursuit of profit. Yet he was one of the world’s greatest philanthropists.

[Sources: http://www.biography.com, http://voteview.uh.edu, http://allsands.com]


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