The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators

Overview

Examines traits of "prime movers," that rare breed who create products, services, and industries that literally change the world. Looks at 70 great wealth creators and reveals core characteristics shared by each, such as independent vision, drive, egoistic passion, and virtue. Those profiled include J.P. Morgan, Steve Jobs, Ross Perot, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. Locke is professor of leadership and motivation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Annotation c. Book News, ...
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Overview

Examines traits of "prime movers," that rare breed who create products, services, and industries that literally change the world. Looks at 70 great wealth creators and reveals core characteristics shared by each, such as independent vision, drive, egoistic passion, and virtue. Those profiled include J.P. Morgan, Steve Jobs, Ross Perot, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. Locke is professor of leadership and motivation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Ever wondered what shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, cosmetics maven Mary Kay Ash and Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson have in common? In The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators, Edwin A. Locke promises to unveil the shared attributes of the ultrarich, but don't expect any startling revelations.

Locke, a University of Maryland business professor, starts off on the wrong foot by taking shots at "Marx and his followers," the "so-called 'intellectuals' on our college campuses," and even "the moderns," whatever that means.

The Cold War is over, right? But Locke, a devotee of author Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy, can't let go. Communism, after all, was the antithesis of everything the Russian-born Rand promoted: self-reliance, small government and the moral goodness of making money.

Nothing wrong with that, but the book comes off as a hopelessly outdated ideological rant by bashing commies and liberal college professors before readers make it out of the first chapter.

The author also tosses around what can only be considered extreme economic theories without providing much to back them up. By abolishing the income tax and all economic controls, Locke claims, any country can produce wealth beyond its wildest dreams. There's no mention of how to deal with minor details like infrastructure, defense, education and environmental safeguards in this new system.

Locke's stated goal is to help entrepreneurs with the "right stuff" join the ranks of the fabulously rich. He also wants to help the prime movers - a term he borrowed from Rand, who lifted it from Aristotle - "see their own value" after being downgraded as "grubby materialists" by lowlifes who secretly envy their success. It's good that writers want to help out. Billionaires have feelings too, you know.

In fact, many rich people had downright rotten childhoods. Locke brings this up when he attempts to address - unsuccessfully - the vexing fact that many of his subjects weren't exactly fun to be around. Auto tycoon Henry Ford was a crotchety anti-Semite. Oil titan Jean Paul Getty was a cold, indifferent husband and father, not to mention a shameless womanizer.

Locke finally dismisses the entire issue by "deliberately not dealing with the whole person but with only those attributes that caused wealth creation." It's a strange approach for a writer attempting to establish the moral superiority of successful moneymakers. He's reluctant to acknowledge that the creation of wealth isn't the only factor that makes a better person or a better society.

At least Prime Movers' early missteps are somewhat unexpected and colorful. How many business books, after all, attempt to explore J.P. Morgan's childhood traumas? But Locke soon falls into an all too predictable trap. The characteristics that his prime movers possess are so obvious that it's doubtful they'd be of much use to anyone. Entrepreneurs with half a brain already know them, and would-be billionaires who need a book to explain them are better off playing the lottery.

Still, the author declares that prime movers have independent vision, an active mind, competence and confidence, egoistic passion, love of ability in others and virtue. Locke fails to mention that many of them also prospered with the help of tax breaks, government subsidies, family money and monopolies, but why muddy the waters?

What that means (you may want to sit down for this) is that shortsighted slackers probably don't have a shot at becoming the next Bill Gates, no matter how much Ayn Rand they read.

It's inevitable that any effort to boil down the traits common to men as diverse as Walt Disney, Ray Kroc and Steve Jobs will lack the precision and insight needed to guide others on a similar path. Their lives are so different and their business pursuits so disparate that commonalities will be overly broad and generalized.

But don't be too hard on Locke. He must have a bit of the prime mover in him. After all, he managed to get this deeply flawed book published.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814405703
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 3/24/2000
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword v
Preface ix
1. The Creation of Wealth 1
Reason
Rights
Technology
The Relationship between Freedom and Wealth
Economic and Political Freedom
Prime Movers
The Traits
Conclusion
2. Independent Vision 19
What Is Vision?
Myopic Visions
The Danger of Experts
Visions as Evolutionary
Vision Communication
Independent Visions
Visionaries and Their Companies
Conclusion
3. An Active Mind 41
Thinking
Volition
Reality
Intuition
Active Minds at Work
How Do Active Minds Go "Bad"?
Conclusion
4. Competence and Confidence 61
Competence and Learning
Confidence
Prime Abilities
Risk
Reaching Beyond One's Grasp
Overconfidence
Fear of Failure
Conclusion
5. The Drive to Action 79
Action
Prime Movers in Action
Actions off Course
Drive
When Is Enough, Enough?
Conclusion
6. Egoistic Passion 101
Counterfeit Egoism
True (Rational) Egoism
Prime Movers at Work
Egoism and "The Public Interest"
The Prime Mover's Attitude toward Himself
Passion and Reason
Conclusion
7. Love of Ability in Others 118
Business and Friendship
Prime Movers as Ability Lovers
Falls from Grace
The Role of the Individual in an Age of Groupism
Conclusion
8. Virtue 145
Values
Egoism
Rationality
Independence
Productiveness
Honesty
Integrity
Justice
Virtues as Guiding Corporate Principles: BB&T
The Evil of Initiating Force
Conclusion
9. How to Make a Billion Dollars 177
Other Traits
Male and Female
Strategy
Management
The Success Quartet
Business and Religion
Giving Back
Antitrust
Inequality
Greed
Hatred of the Good
Appendix A. Amounts of Wealth Created by (Selected) Prime Movers Mentioned in This Book 203
Appendix B. "Why Businessmen Need Philosophy" 205
Index of Company Names, Subjects, and Terms 221
Index of Names 225
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2003

    How does one make money morally?

    This book is far and away better than books by or about a single CEO because it looks at many leaders and clearly shows what is fundamental, discarding the rest. The same principles needed to run a successful company and build wealth apply whether one runs a modest store or a gigantic enterprise (or even a modest department in a large company). In today's culture most people would rather cut down and sling dirt at those at the top. It is therefore very refreshing to read why they should be admired and how to follow in their footsteps.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2000

    Atlas Shrugged Applied

    It is a good book, not a great one. Worth a read, but wait for paperback. I am an Ayn Rand devotee, so I rushed to the hardcover, but wouldn't encourage others to do the same. If you've never read Ayn Rand, this is a great way to get a good taste of her philosophy applied to real-life examples who are all very well known. The review from the Industry Standard is really quite funny. Notice how the writer dismisses the accomplishments of Locke's Prime Movers with the typically snide remarks about 'family money, tax breaks, monopolies', etc. Locke's book actually covers this 'hatred of the good' very thoroughly in the book. No wonder the 'critic' didn't like it much!

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