The $12 Billion Dollar Idea!
This is an article about the power of ideas and how ideas have been converted into huge fortunes. The book Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill has served as the blueprint for millions of people to build successful lives. The purpose of this article is to analyze the story of how one man took an idea and turned it into a fortune for himself and the people that believed in him.
The setting is New York City on December 12, 1900. The theme of this story is that you must give something before you can receive something and that you must have faith in yourself and your ideas. Whether you are giving ideas, energy, resources or moral support – giving always precedes receiving.
The story begins…
Charles M. Schwab was scheduled to speak to a group of the wealthiest men in America during a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce Mr. Schwab to this group of wealthy investors. If you were to add up the combined wealth of the men at the meeting it would add up to approximately $5 billion dollars of wealth in 1900 dollars! In 2003 dollars that would represent approximately $104 billion dollars of wealth.
This was truly a gathering of financial geniuses. Even today the names of Vanderbilt, Stillman, Harriman, and Morgan are synonymous with wealth, power and prestige.
As so often happens, Mr. Schwab’s hosts warned him not to overwhelm the wealthy investors with requests for investment capital or similar issues. He was warned not to bore them; to stay polite; keep it clean; don’t ask for too much and don’t expect too much. After all, if they wanted something from him they would have asked him for it – right?
What would you have done? Think about it – you are about to get on the biggest stage of your life and the people who invited you are telling you to lower your expectations. They are telling you to aim low because the audience would not be interested in what you had to say. They are basically speaking death to your ideas even before you had a chance to present them. What would you do? Read further and you will see what Mr. Schwab did.
From small opportunities…
The key to success for Mr. Schwab was that he thought bigger than anyone could have imagined. He was engaged in quantum level thinking – his thinking was so far outside what was expected at the time that the reward he earned for thinking big was astronomical.
Again, no one expected much out of this meeting – it was not mentioned in the local papers or society pages. Basically, this meeting went unnoticed by the press and most of the American public. The Greek statesman Demosthenes said, “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” Remember this is one of the greatest gatherings of wealthy people that the United States had ever seen and out of this meeting would come the idea for one of the most powerful corporations that the United States had ever produced – The United States Steel Corporation.
Who was Charles M. Schwab?
Mr. Schwab was a relatively unknown quantity at the time of this meeting. No one knew that he was about to unleash his creative power to spark the imagination of these wealthy men with an idea that would change the American business landscape forever. He possessed a truly world-changing idea – and all he had to do was to persuade these wealthy men that it was in their best interest to underwrite his idea.
Mr. Schwab captivated his audience with a ninety minute talk that highlighted his wit, vision, imagination and guts. In fact, J.P. Morgan, the man credited with saving the U.S. financial markets from collapsing by leading the financial community during the stock market panic of 1907 was significantly intrigued enough to engage Mr. Schwab for an additional hour after his talk to discuss his unconventional ideas in more detail.
Mr. Schwab was able to convince Mr. Morgan that his vision of what the steel industry could become was real – even after numerous men had tried and failed to convince him many times before. Mr. Schwab was able to do this not with smoke and mirrors but with clear, convincing, well-thought-out rationale and data – among the information he covered was: the world future of steel, reorganizing for efficiency, specialization, scrapping of unsuccessful mills, concentration of effort on flourishing properties, economies of ore traffic, economies of overhead and administrative departments, and capturing foreign markets. He spoke of the errors of current businessmen particularly the shortsightedness of their current policies.
Mr. Schwab demonstrated many principles that still apply today, specifically; he demonstrated that preparation is the key. He was prepared to discuss every angle of his idea – he was ready for any question that came up because he had thoroughly prepared for the opportunity of a lifetime.
After the meeting it took J.P. Morgan less than a week to digest the details and to make a decision on Schwab’s idea. The lesson here is that once you have all of the facts, data, and information – make a decision and move on – quickly.
During a final decision conference J.P. Morgan requested that Mr. Schwab discuss the details of his proposal one last time. During the conference, Mr. Schwab’s professional credentials and knowledge were held in such high regard that his figures were not questioned or challenged – if he said it then it was accepted as fact, because he was the most knowledgeable man in the world about making steel.
This is a perfect example of desire transmuted into its physical equivalent. The idea to form the United States Steel Corporation was created in the mind of Charles Schwab and brilliantly sold to J.P. Morgan.
The net result of this transaction was a profit of $600 million in 1900 dollars, which today would be worth approximately $12 billion in 2003 dollars. Charles M. Schwab’s willingness to give his ideas and insights resulted in him becoming extremely wealthy and eventually becoming the President of the U.S. Steel Corporation.
What we can learn from Charles M. Schwab:
- Think big
- Have faith in your ideas
- Have all of the facts
- Preparation is the key to success
- Find people who believe in you
- Take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you
- Become the most knowledgeable person in your field
Vernon Myers is the author of the upcoming book, The Idea Journal: A Tool for Unleashing Your Urge to Create! Click here to get a FREE copy of the amazing 6 Traits of Highly Creative People Video and to find out more about the upcoming launch.
Vernon is also a contributing author in the bestselling book, 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, volume 3. To read more from Vernon on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below.
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