What was the reason for Andrew Carnegie success?
He was called the Steel King; yet he himself knew little about the manufacture of steel. He had hundreds of people working for him who knew far more about steel than he did.
But he knew how to handle people, and that is what made him rich. Early in life, he showed a flair for organization, a genius for leadership. By the time he was ten, he too had discovered he astounding importance people place on their own name. And he used that discovery to win cooperation. To illustrate: When he was a boy back in Scotland, he got hold of a rabbit, a mother rabbit. Presto! He soon had a whole nest of little rabbits – and nothing to feed them. But he had a brilliant idea. He told the boys and girls in the neighborhood that if they would go out and pull enough clover and dandelions to feed the rabbits, he would name the bunnies in their honor.
The plan worked like magic, and Carnegie never forgot it.
Years later, he made millions by using the same psychology in business. For example, he to sell steel rails to Pennsylvania Railroad. J.Edgar Thomson was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad then. So Andrew Carnegie built a huge steel mill in Pittsburgh and called it the “Edgar Thomson Steel Works.”
Here is a riddle. See if you can guess it. When the Pennsylvania Railroad needed steel rails, where do you suppose. J.Edgar Thomson bought them? … From Sears, Roebuck? No. No. You’re wrong. Guess again.
When Carnegie and George Pullman were battling each other for supremacy in the railroad sleeping-car business, the Steel King again remembered the lesson of the rabbits.
The Central Transportation Company, which Andrew Carnegie controlled, was fighting with the company that Pullman owned. Both are struggling to get the sleeping-car business of the Union Pacific Railroad, bucking each other, slashing prices, and destroying all chance of profit. Both Carnegie and Pullman had gone to New York to see the board of directors of the Union Pacific. Meeting one evening in the St. Nicholas Hotel, Carnegie said: “Good evening, Mr. Pullman, aren’t we making a couple of fools of ourselves?”
“What do you mean?” Pullman demanded.
Then Carnegie expressed what he had on his mind — a merger of their two interests. He pictured in glowing terms the mutual advantages of working with, instead of against, each other. Pullman listened attentively, but was not wholly convinced. Finally he asked, “What would you call the new company?” and Carnegie replied promptly: “Why, the Pullman Palace Car Company, of course.”
Pullman’s face brightened. “Come into my room,” he said. Let’s talk it over. That talk made industrial history.
This policy of remembering and honoring the names of his friends and business associates was one of the secrets of Andrew Carnegie’s leadership. He was proud of the fact that he could call many of his factory workers by their first names, and he boasted that while he was personally in charge, no strike ever disturbed his flaming steel mills.