Is the American Dream dead, or is there still opportunity out there for individuals to come from nothing and make their mark on both the United States and on history? Names like Henry Ford and Sam Walton are household names despite being many decades apart and having grown up in different times in history – to the point you could say the United States each knew was like a completely different world! Yet both have stories of coming up without the advantages of others, without the training, education, or backing, and yet they transformed business.
So do these stories still apply? Did these men have traits in common that we can learn from today? The answers might surprise you.
Hard Work Is A Skill
Both Sam Walton and Henry Ford grew up on farms. No matter when in history you grow up there is one truth about farm work: it’s hard. Kids who grow up on farms grow up working and doing chores. They learn to work, to get up early, to do things they don’t want to do, and to give every bit of work all their focus and effort.
Growing up on the farm didn’t give them a leg up – but learning the value of hard work and how to work hard for long hours without clearly seeing results, that matters. That is a skill that would serve both men as they forged ahead in adulthood.
The Process Trumps All
What is Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart and Henry Ford’s Ford Automobiles known for? Both created a process so good that it allowed them to utterly dominate the existing competition. One could even argue that both created a process so good that it became the new model others followed to adjust and survive, and those who didn’t just folded. They didn’t become billionaires by making a goal of being billionaires, but by creating processes that gave them a huge market advantage.
Don’t Buy The Early Hype
Both men enjoyed the finer things in life, but well after they made their fortunes. Early on both were renowned for being humble and thrifty with spending. This not only led to good business practices but it meant they had cash on hand to weather the inevitable early challenges that come with every business growth. Sam Walton was known for driving a classic 1979 pick up truck even as he became a billionaire, sticking with the reliable vehicle that continued to work – so why waste money on a big vehicle purpose when he had what he needed?
There comes a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, but doing this too early can sink you.
Finding An Edge
Walton focused on bringing high quality business to more rural areas that were often looked over by larger companies, giving him a solid and loyal customer base on the stores expanded and grew. At the time Ford built his factories many workers were paid slave labor wages and forced to work every day of the week. He realized paying them more and giving hem time off let them be wealthy enough to become his customers, and taking care of them created a loyalty that led to harder work, better products, which they would then buy themselves.
Each man found an edge and used an amazing process, hard work, and dedication to exploit it, creating their fortunes and their legacy with these lessons anyone can still use today!