Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline on 25th of November, 1835, in Scotland. He enjoyed his childhood in the bosom of an extended family; he was the second of William a handloom weaver, and Margaret Carnegie, who did sewing for local shoemakers. In the year 1848, Carnegies family moved to America in search for better economic opportunities after the invention of weaving the machine which replaced the work of his father; the family was forced into poverty. They settled in Pittsburgh (then called Allegheny City).
Carnegies father found a job in a cotton factory, he later left the job and returned to his home in Scotland where he would make linens and sell them door to door (Carnegie, 3). Carnegie also worked in the cotton factory. His father died in 1855, and he was left with an enormous task of taking care of his family, this pushed him to educate himself. He became a prolific reader, a theatergoer, and a lover of music.
While in Pittsburgh, He obtained employment as a railway clerk and as a telegraphist where he acted as a messenger boy for the Pittsburgh telegraph office. He later becomes a Telegraph Operator. He was made secretary at the age of 18 by Thomas Scott, a superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad; he was now earning enough money to buy his mother a house. Between the years 1861-1865, there was a civil war, and Scott was named the assistant secretary of war in the department of transportation, Carnegie helped in organizing the military telegraph system (Bridge & James .H. 78). Later Carnegie was asked to take charge of the American government railways, and telegraphs charge which he accepted and did with distinction. His greatest opportunity to serve the cause came when he started to oppose slavery and joined Republican Party. Americans railroad system was in rapid expansion, and Carnegie says that " a manufacturing concern that we have could scarcely develop fast enough for the needs of the people of the United States."
Carnegie made money through investments in some small iron mills and factories. He became the richest man in the world when he started selling iron and steel; he is known for selling the largest iron and steel works in the United States. When he retired, Carnegie went back home in his Skibo Castle in Scotland; it was his beloved house. He died in 1919, in Lenox Massachusetts.
In his will, he had left over $70 million for building libraries in the United States and Britain. He also gave large gifts to different Universities. He was a man who loved peace, and the outbreak of World War 1 saddened him very much, he even endowed institutions that promoted peace and were researching on the cause of the war
Carnegies Tips for Work and Life Success
Carnegie did not like speculation in stocks. According to him, choosing an industry, learning about it and investing in owns business was a much better investment. Carnegie argues that The only true road, I tend to believe to a preeminent success in any line is to be the master of it . I have no belief in the policy of scattering my resources, and in my experience, I have rarely never met a man whose achievement is prominence in money-making and was interested in many concerns."
He had achieved great success at an early age and thus developed a reputation for being fearless and reckless in business. According to Carnegie (22), this image was not further from the truth. He never risked his partners capital or his to any great degree. When he did big things, some large corporations were behind him and the responsible party, a good example was a company referred to as Pennsylvania Railroad. Carnegie argues that a person does not have risk everything so that he can act and think big (22). His lesson is to get another party that will carry the risk, and assist your business by using their reputation.
Carnegie worked so hard to create transparency in the management of all his plants. They were all clean and well organized, He always welcomed government inspectors who came to inspect the place. He respected his employees and always would give them what they wanted within reason. A homestead strike happened while he was in Scotland and the process several men died, the strike would likely not have happened if Carnegie was there.
He paid his staff handsomely to motivate them to continue working very hard. Charles Schwab, his plant manager, was the first person in the United States to be paid $1 million annually. Carnegie was a Human Nature student, and he realized that the path of a workforces energies was the mark of a real leader. In his book, he says that he did not understand the steam machinery, but he tried to understand a more complex mechanism which was human.
Speaking In Public Is Just Speaking
"My two rules now and then for speaking were: Make yourself perfectly at home before your audience, and dont just talk to them, talk to them. Do not try to be somebody else; be yourself and talk, never 'orate' until you can't help it" (Carnegie. 32)
When one follows the Carnegies advice, its had to take an expensive course. Also, you need to know who you are and what you stand for to be yourself. Speaking comes from the heart which is most of the time true.
Enlarge Your Circle
Like any other person, he had friends whom he hanged around with; they included Mathew Arnold, James Blaine, Judge Mellon, William Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, President Harrison and Mark Twin. Their friendship was not cultivated, and therefore, he could name drop; he was able to learn from their distinct experience and knowledge. At all time, look out for the interesting people.
Seek Knowledge and Value, Not Money Alone
At the age of 33, Carnegie wrote himself a memorandum when he was living in St Nicholas Hotel in New York. In his memo, he starts with, thirty-three and a yearly income of $50,000, he states that he could manage his business so as to bring in the same amount annually, at the same time using the surplus in charity. He states his intentions of retiring at 35 and then devote his life to studying and reading. Despite him not doing all this, you can see the seeds of his philanthropy later in his life. The real value was a representation of knowledge obtained in reading and studying; a truly good life opened the mind. Money alone was worthless.
Travel To Broaden Your Mind
Andrew Carnegie loved traveling, especially when it was an adventure. He urged others to travel and see more of the world. He explains in his book An American Four In Hand in Britain how he struggled to learn into deep the cultures he came across, when he traveled to China he read Confucius and when he went in India the thoughts of Buddha and Zoroaster. He had an open mind, and this drove him into respecting all religions.
The Final Word
The book reminds of Benjamin Franklins autobiography in which Benjamin amazes in the story of what a person from an average background can achieve in a lifetime. The reader of this book almost tires from the detailed information of the people who mentored and helped him, and he speaks with great fondness of his childhood according to (Van.d & John.C 2014). In some incidents, he was devastated when his mother and brother died of typhoid, both of whom had contributed much to his success, his marriage later gave him a happy life.
His funding of libraries was one of the greatest acts in history. He built three thousand libraries all over the English-speaking world; his donations amounted to $350 million. To continue with Carnegie broad interests, Carnegie Corporation was given charge, with a donation of $125 million. Today his name is well identified with the money that he gave away rather than that he made. The story of Carnegie shows that if a person of real motives amasses wealth, then it is easy to change the world and make it a better place for human beings and their descendants.
Van Dyke, John Charles. Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. Quality Classics, 2013.
Carnegie, Andrew. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and His Essay: The Gospel of Wealth. Courier Corporation, 2014.
Bridge, James Howard. The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company: A Romance of Millions. University of Pittsburgh Pre, 2014.
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