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The Change Makers: How the Great Entrepreneurs from Carnegie to Gates Transformed Ideas into Industries

The Change Makers: How the Great Entrepreneurs from Carnegie to Gates Transformed Ideas into Industries

by Maury Klein

From one of America's foremost business historians, a penetrating and engaging look at the qualities that create great entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, even more than inventors, are essential to American business. While inventors produce ideas, entrepreneurs get things done, build the markets, make ideas reality. But what creative talents do the legendary


From one of America's foremost business historians, a penetrating and engaging look at the qualities that create great entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, even more than inventors, are essential to American business. While inventors produce ideas, entrepreneurs get things done, build the markets, make ideas reality. But what creative talents do the legendary American entrepreneurs share, and what can you learn from them about business success?

Using lively character sketches and company stories, University of Rhode Island professor and author Maury Klein analyzes how innovators from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates triumphed over perennial challenges in planning and strategy, production, operations, staffing, and sales-and transformed entire industries. Comparing the retailing acumen of J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart's Sam Walton, the organizational ingenuity of Standard Oil's John D. Rockefeller and Citigroup's Sandy Weill, the imaginative marketing of General Motors' Alfred Sloan and MacDonald's Ray Kroc, Klein reveals the art and archetype of successful entrepreneurialism. Moving beyond the clichés, he describes the artistry of great businessmen who build empires and dreams as well as fortunes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"The watershed event in American history is not the Civil War but the industrial and managerial revolutions of the late nineteenth century," asserts Klein (Rainbow's End) in this lively survey of influential American entrepreneurs. He draws a clear distinction between such entrepreneurs and robber barons who left no concrete legacy and argues that the 26 men (yes, they're all men) he celebrates here share more qualities with artists committed to creating something new and valuable than with their more notoriously rapacious commercial brethren. Drawing on a vast store of vivid anecdotes, Klein shows that his subjects, including Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Wanamaker, are as idiosyncratic as many artists are; a comparison of Klein's profiles of Henry Ford and Warren Buffett defines the extremes of the personality spectrum from curmudgeonly to congenial. The artistic metaphor fades, however, once the focus shifts to the men's work as innovative producers, organizers, merchandisers, technologists and investors: all were driven to succeed with a decidedly nonbohemian dedication to business epitomized by Thomas Edison, who worked so much that his daughter Madeleine first realized she had a father on a family trip to an ore-separating mine. While many of these men became philanthropists to share the fruits of their success, others kept their fortunes to themselves. For those following the Microsoft antitrust case, Klein's discussion of his entrepreneurs' run-ins with the law (nine have butted up against the Sherman Antitrust Act) will illuminate the shifts in government policy toward entrepreneurship and competition over the last century. (Apr. 11) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
What makes a successful entrepreneur? Business historian Klein (Rainbow's End) attempts to answer this question by examining the lives of 26 famous American business entrepreneurs ranging from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates. The author feels that the urge to create something new makes the work of entrepreneurs somewhat akin to an artistic act of creation. Not surprisingly, he offers no one magic ingredient for entrepreneurial success, though qualities like genius, determination, ambition, competitiveness, and abundant energy are all constants. And as with artists, one wonders at the fearful price some of these people paid; success may have brought wealth and fame but not necessarily happiness. IBM's Thomas J. Watson was practically a megalomaniac, for instance, and George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak committed suicide. These are all basically mini-portraits, and as the author admits, "one size doesn't fit all." Readers would be better served reading a solid biography of one of these individuals (e.g., Ron Chernow's Titan, the story of John D. Rockefeller) instead of this thin soup. An optional purchase.-Richard Drezen, Washington Post, New York City Bureau Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Say Good-Bye to the Robber Barons
According to Maury Klein, a professor at the University of Rhode Island and an acclaimed business historian, a label like "robber baron" does not do justice to those it describes. He believes this narrow stereotype is deceptive and fails to recognize the accomplishments of the men it is used to pigeonhole. After examining the history of the words used to describe those who drive the economy with their innovations, and the dozens of writers who have tried to get a handle on the phenomenon of enterprise, he pinpoints several entrepreneurs and details their journeys into unexplored territories while exploring their contributions to our collective experiences.

Throughout The Change Makers, Klein delves into the lives and accomplishments of 26 entrepreneurs whose creativity has impacted the economic landscape. Those he profiles include producers (Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, etc.), organizers (Pierre du Pont, Jay Gould, etc.), merchandisers (Ray Kroc, Samuel Walton, etc.), technologists (Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, etc.), and investor Warren Buffett. Although he says these divisions are somewhat arbitrary, since many of these men crossed between categories, he uses these labels to develop greater understanding of each by comparing and contrasting those who excelled in their fields with others who made similar leaps of ingenuity in different eras.

Ruthless Efficiency
Klein describes the accomplishments of these men in brief profiles and in summaries of their visions and their strengths. He explains that Carnegie was able to out-produce the British, who dominated the steel and iron markets of the day, with ruthless efficiency and by introducing new technologies as soon as they appeared. James Duke made a mint from his multinational corporation, British-American Tobacco (BAT), by investing in an unproven cigarette machine and using aggressive marketing to dominate his industry. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a wise investor who built one of the two strongest railroad systems in the nation using his skills for efficiency, organization and competition.

As an example of the creative nature of entrepreneurs and their ability to place intelligence and ability into the realm of business, Klein describes Jay Gould as a man who brilliantly expanded his railroad system westward to create a dominant transcontinental line, forcing others to rethink their own strategy and policies.

The Partnership Principle
Klein examines the great merchandisers with equal admiration. He details how Frank Woolworth was able to turn a small Pennsylvania store into an international retailing empire of a thousand stores by bargaining for inexpensive goods and buying only goods that moved. He was also able to harness the principle of partnerships, where a partner would share a store's startup costs and receive half of its profits, allowing Woolworth to expand without going into debt.

Klein describes Ray Kroc as the creator of a unique franchising system that emphasized uniform standards, teamwork, loyalty and individual creativity. His focus on long-term partnerships that benefited franchisers, franchisees, and suppliers alike, Klein writes, was able to help him build relationships and turn McDonald's into a billion-dollar company with thousands of restaurants throughout the world.

In the realm of technology, Klein highlights the career of Bill Gates, who was able to both create a new colossus with his ability to rework existing products for other markets, and "manage it at the next level of growth." Klein compares Gates to Carnegie - both were able to see the value of low pricing and preemptive strikes.

While marveling at the business accomplishments of Gates, Klein also recognizes the vast contributions his Gates Foundation continues to make to charitable causes around the globe. In a chapter that examines the business of philanthropy, Gates becomes a point of comparison for the rest of the great philanthropists. Not only does his fortune exceed the fortunes of Carnegie and Rockefeller, but his charitable donations dwarf all others. For example, Warren Buffet, the world's second richest man (after Gates), has made only a fraction of Gates' charitable contributions.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
In The Change Makers, Klein offers fresh insight into the lives and accomplishments of fascinating characters who changed society and business in substantial ways. Not only does he make insightful comparisons that shed light on their similarities and differences, but he also examines them as distinctively individual people who were uniquely creative and idiosyncratic. Klein's book reveals real people filled with style, passion and vision. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.15(d)

Meet the Author

A professor at the University of Rhode Island, Maury Klein is one of today's most acclaimed business historians. He is the author of twelve books, including Rainbow's End and The Life and Legend of Jay Gould, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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