I recently finished listening to “Andrew Carnegie“, a biography written by David Nasaw. Billionaire Charlie Munger had recommended this book, so I decided to undertake this 33 hour audiobook. This biography takes you from Carnegie’s childhood days in Scotland to him immigrating to the United States and working as a telegrapher to selling railroad/bridge/oil bonds to creating a partnership and building his steel empire. Andrew Carnegie’s life is a true rags-to-riches story. Here are the five lessons that I learned from Andrew Carnegie’s biography:
- Think big, and having a vision: From the moment Carnegie got his first dividend payment, he was hooked on investing. He profited on American capitalism, and took advantage of adversities. It was as if he knew how the future would unfold (except the Homestead strike). He understood the bigger picture.
- Business partners are important to succeed: Andrew Carnegie had multiple partnerships, which accelerated his growth financially. Each one of his partners brought a different kind of talent to the table.
- Be ruthless when pursuing your goals: Andrew Carnegie would use the best technology at his plants in order to reduce his production costs, which made him have a competitive advantage in the market. He was also known to vertically integrate the steel business – owning everything from iron mines to railroads. He always wanted to maintain profitability along with a competitive advantage, and he would do whatever it takes to make it possible. He would simply replace his workers if they ever went on strikes and demanded higher wages.
- Delegate your work: Hire individuals who are the best at what they do. Convey your goals, and let them achieve those goals for you. When in doubt of the other person’s judgement, provide guidance (sometimes unsolicited).
- Giving back to the community: Andrew Carnegie has been one of the richest man in the world to ever live, and he gave all his fortune away before he died. Philanthropy and international peace was an important part of his life. He built countless libraries across the world. Carnegie said that the man who dies rich dies disgraced.
Overall, I thought this book was pretty interesting. The author talked about how Carnegie would help presidential candidates during political elections by funding their campaigns; he made sure that the candidate’s ideals aligned with those of capitalism and industrial growth. The books discusses how tariffs on steel rail helped Carnegie accelerate the growth of his steel empire. The biography also focuses on how Carnegie met his wife, the impact his mother had on his life, his correspondence with friends and business partners, and his relentless effort towards international peace. I also think that Andrew Carnegie was at the right place at the right time. In other words, initially, luck played an important role in his life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about how a teenager, who came to the United States with nothing, became one of the richest person ever to live.
Hope you learned a little and found this blog post helpful. We talked about “Andrew Carnegie”, a biography by David Nasaw. Nasaw takes us through Carnegie’s journey in life from Scotland to Civil War to World War 1. As always, you can sign up for our mailing list here. Like us on our Facebook page here. Thank you!
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