About two years ago, The History Channel aired an amazing 8-episode documentary called “The Men Who Built America” that focused on industry moguls like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Henry Ford and how they managed to revolutionize the United States after the Civil War and help build the American Dream. The documentary presents how these men transformed a decaying nation into a superpower never seen before and how they created the oil, steel, rail, shipping, finance and automobile industries – and with these – the America of today. It is a perfect combination of excitement, special effects, historical facts doubled by millions of historical negatives, impressive reenactments, and interviews with current business magnates and historians. The great thing about it is that you won’t feel like you’re in history class at all. In fact, it has a great feel and atmosphere to it and you’ll probably be holding your breath, waiting to see what they do next and what schemes they pull. But if my description hasn’t convinced you that you have to watch it, let’s see what are some of the business lessons you could take out from it and use in your own life. I don’t want to give you too much spoilers, so here are just a few ideas:
1. Don’t get discouraged when other people pressure you into changing your plans. Don’t give up on your dreams. Even if it’s your parents standing in your way. If your intuition and vision tell you to do it, then do it.
2. If need be, learn how to sacrifice in order to win. Even if that means sacrificing part of your business. If that gets you on top of your competitors, do it.
3. Don’t give up when all odds are against you. If the whole world (including authority) tells you it can’t be done and they won’t let you do it, find a way to do it anyway.
4. A good plan executed with boldness now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. Go ahead with it even if you know it’s not perfect. You’ll improve it later. Opportunities don’t care you’re not ready when they come by, so grab them whatever it takes.
5. Learn how to choose people whom to rely on. When you become an important person, you can’t do everything by yourself and there are some things you just can’t and won’t do. Find somebody you can trust willing to do them for you.
6. When nobody wants to hear what you have to say or they think you’re crazy and won’t give you a chance, go on your own. If you have a revolutionary idea you believe in with your whole heart, don’t just talk about it; people are very reluctant if they don’t see evidence. So show it to them.
I hope this documentary will inspire you. I know it has inspired me. From now on, when you plan a new business tactic, you won’t be able to help asking yourself “What would Rockefeller had done in my situation?”