The First Steps of Famous Business Men.

THE WORLD MAGAZINE November 1 1905

The First Steps of Famous Business Men.

THE WORLD MAGAZINE November 1 1905

The First Steps of Famous Business Men.


Most of the great business men of to-day were poor boys at the outset and started at the very bottom rung of the ladder. When asked for the cause of their success they one and all explain it by hard work. Some extremely good advice is given in the following article which should be helpful to the beginner in the business world.

ANDREW CARNEGIE believes himself fortunate in having been born of poor parents. “I, fortunately, had to begin work very young,” he says, “in order to earn an honest livelihood. The question to me was, what I could get to do. not what I wanted to do.

“When I was twelve years old my parents, who conducted a handloom weaving place, were gradually rendered poorer and poorer by the de-

velopment of the factory system. Circumstances finally became so poor that they decided to come to America. My father, mother, and young brother and myself made up the sad family that arrived at Allegheny City.

“My father immediately secured a place in a cottun factory and, as I saw the many things we needed at home and which the small salary he earned failed to provide, I determined to do what little I could to

help. I went to the same factory and told a man I wanted to work. I was only twelve, and I don’t suppose I could have made much of an impression, but he finally saw how badly I did want to go to work and he gave me a position as “bobbin boythe salary, $1.20, looked bigger to me than any money I ever earned afterward, and the day I received my first wages will always be the proudest and happiest of my life

“From the cotton factory I went to a bobbin factory and from there to the position of messenger boy. Here was the first real step in advance that I made. It brought me in contact with things that were bright, with papers, books and with men who were constantly working with their brains..

“My success, no matter how it be measured, has been due only to perseverance and a constant effort to take advantage of every opportunity that offered itself. An opportunity lost is the greatest misfortune that can befal] any man, be he young or old.”

William H. Newman, president of the New York Central Railroad, has had a remarkable rise from the bottom to the top of a profession. Mr. Newman was born in Virginia in 1847. A little education, and then he drifted to the west. Railroading was in its infancy, and it appealed to him as the place his energies could best be used. He asked for a position, but was told it required a man of experience. He asked for another and met the same answer. He finally found a place where a man might learn, and it was at the bottom. As a switchman on the Texas Pacific Railroad, in the little town of Shreveport. La., he began his railroad career.

He learned the duties of his position; he worked hard and became station agent. He learned his duties and the responsibilities of that position. and one day a general freight agent was needed, and he got the place. His rise from then on was rapid and earned.

His one rule for success and his only advice to young men, printed many times before and given always when asked, is:

‘ ‘ Work, work, work ! ’3

Randolph Guggenheimer’s life story as told by himself, contains ; ne secret of his great success

“I was born at Lynchburg Va.; in 1848 and went to school there. When I was seventeen I came to New York, determined to become a. lawyer. My capital was just large enough to give me board and lodging. I went into the law office of M. L. Townsend as office boy. sweeping out the office, emptying the waste basket and running all the errands. In return I was allowed to read Mr. Townsend’s books.

“When it came the end of the week Mr. Townsend said, ‘Boy, you’ve kept this office cleaner than any boy I ever had before; here’s a dollarU That was my first pay, and I continued to get that for several weeks.

“I made it my rule to save a little from every dollar I earned. In four years I had saved enough from my small salary to enter New York University. The day I was graduated and received my diploma I still consider the happiest and best of all my life.

“From that time my life has been one busy round of work. I have done only what any young man must expect to do. I have worked from morning until night, and after work-

ing hours I have studied. It is a grave mistake for any young man to come to New York who does not expect to work hard, but if he does, there is no place where he can succeed better.”

John D. Crimminswas born in New York City in 1844, was educated in New York City and always lived here. It has been his pride and his hobby, and from its growth he has made his fortune.

“Any young man who will apply himself can do as much and more than I have done,” Mr. Crimmins says. “The growth of New York that enabled me to succeed is nothing to the growth that is to come. I was born in New York,, and I watched it grow. When I began to think about work, I saw no opportunity so great as that offered me by the growth of my own city.

“I had worked for several years after leaving school with my father, who was in the contracting business, and by care saved money. My father had little and could give me none. I began to buy property when I was very young, and I sold it as quickly as I bought it. 1 never held property on my hands. I bought a little later in my life a piece of property for $9,000 and sold it for $11,000. It is worth a million dollars now, but had I held it I should not have been so far ahead as I am now. The secret of success in nr/ business is quick sales

“Tt does nut follow that every young man who comes to New York wall succeed in trading real estate. All can’t be traders, but all can be successes. Let a young man make sure what his inclination is. Then let him follow it willingly and industriously and he will succeed. The

only other rule that is necessary for a young man to remember is to be careful in choosing his associates ”

Henry Siegel was born in Eubighein, Germany, fifty-three years ago. His father was burgomaster and gave his son as good an education as the schools of the village afforded. The boy was only fifteen years old when he came to America to seek his fortune. When he parted with his parents he promised to succeed and he kept his promise.

Going to Washington almost immediately after his arrival in the country, Mr. Siegel took the first place that was offered to him. It was an errand boy in a department store at $3 a week. He kept his eyes open and, four years later, with an older brother, he went to a small town in Pennsylvania and opened a store of his own. Into it the exerrand boy put the knowledge he had gained through his work in the larger store. Ideas that impressed him he copied. Things that he had seen work but poorly he bettered. The little store grew and grew until one day, only a few years after its opening, the young proprietor sold out his interest and went to Chicago. There his success was tremendous, and when he left in 1896 he had established himself as one of the greatest merchants in the city.

His success in New York was instantaneous. He has never forgotten the rules he followed when onh^ an errand boy, and he has never forgotten that even the lowest-paid employee in his store may be of help to him. He believes in treating his employees as he wanted to be treated.

His one rule for success is “to avoid bad associates and to work constantly.” and many a boy,

whether he has benefited by it or not, has received this advice from Mr. Siegel’s lips.

Frederic Thompson’s answer to the question, “How can a boy succeed?”

1 ‘ The boy who does not know there is a clock in the office will succeed ”

Mr. Thompson was born at fronton, 0., in 1872, and is only thirtythree years old. Yet he handles projects that involve millions. When lie was twelve years old he hired out as delivery boy in a grocery store at $3 a week. When his father went to Nashville, Tenn., in the contracting business, Mr. Thompson, then less than twenty-one, went too, but not to work with his father. He had vaster ideas and plans than to be a mere clerk. He opened a brokerage office for contractors’ supplies and was soon making nearly $1,000 a month. But the panic of 1892 left the young man and his father “broke.” He had money enough to take him to Chicago, where the World’s Fair was in progress. One of the largest exhibits there was that of Manning, Maxwell & Moore. To the man in charge young Thompson applied for a position. He was told the only thing open was that of janitor and he promptly said, “Well, give me that!”

As janitor he was expected to sweep out the exhibit and keep it clean. He hired a man to do the work for him and then proceeded to make himself so useful that when at the end of the week he sent in a bill for the man he had hired, it was paid. A few days later Mr. Moore went to Chicago to see his company’s exhibit. He found Thompson in charge and mistaking him for the company’s representative began to suggest changes.

1 1 Do you know what my position is here ” Mr. Thompson finally asked Mr. Moore. “I’m janitor.”

“Why, I thought you were in charge of the exhibit,” Mr. Moore said. “You seem to know all about it.” And two weeks later he was.

After a short time spent in Iowa, where he lamed the rolling mill business, Mr. Thompson began the business of which he is now at the head.

From the Pan-American Exhibition at Buffalo, where he first began to put into effect the ideas of his brain, Mr. Thompson came to New York. From a modest beginning, with one show in Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, he and Mr. Dundy, with whom he entered into partnership, branched out into the largest exhibitors there.

“I got everything I have by absolute hard work,” Mr. Thompson said. “Even now, when it might seem as though I had succeeded, I have no time for anything but work. Our motto here at the Hippodrome is short, but every one knows it: * There is no such word as can’t; there is such a word as couldn’t, for that means we tried.’ ”


Leroy B. Crane, just passed his sixteenth birthday one September day forty years ago left his home in Lowell, Mass., and came to New York. His mother stood at the door and waved to him good-by. He carried with him her blessing and pinned in the pocket of his coat a little piece of paper. On it his mother had written her advice to the boy starting out in the world. The paper read :

“Avoid your first glass of liquor; it leads to misery and sorrow.

“Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.

“Be honorable in all things.

“Be reliable and prompt. “Be truthful always.”

The boy came to New York, filled with an ambition to be a lawyer, but he also came to work. He stopped for a moment outside H. B. Claflin & Co.’s store. A man came out, looked around and with a look of impatience said: “I wonder where

that brat of a boy is now?”

Crane, thinking he saw a chance, stepped up to the man and asked if he would do. The man looked at him, and in an instant the boy was hired. With the package tucked under his arm and directions to take it to an address, the situation of which he had no idea, he started out. He asked his way, found the place, delivered the package and harried back to the store. When he was through for the week he had earned $2.

Six years later, the boy, grown to be a man, entered a law office. It had taken him six years of hard work to achieve his ambition, but he had never despaired.

To-day Leroy B. Crane is a city magistrate. His law practice is large. His success has long been assured. He has never stopped working. Ask him to what lie attributes his success and he will tell you to work. And then from his wal] et he will take an old, yellow piece of paper on which you can still read the advice his mother gave him the day he left home.

Oscar Hammerstein, proprietor of the theatre that bears his name, sat in his little office in the Victoria Theatre, when a young man asked him how to succeed. Though in the very midst of a deskful of work, Mr. Hammerstein found time to stop and tell him.

“Do just what you see me doing, young man, and I think that you’ll succeed,” he bald. “Devote every minute of your time to work and to thought. If your necessity mjakes you work at something distasteful to you, work as though you liked it. But don’t be satisfied. Think all the time how you can better yourself and secure a start in something you will like,

“I’m fifty-five years old and I’ve been working forty of those years. I was born in Berlin, in 1851, and came to this country when I was fifteen years old. I needed work and needed it badly. I had lofty ambitions. I had been trained to be a professor. My father taught me languages and music, but I didn’t find any one that needed a professor. All 1 saw was: (Wanted, boy to

learn tobacco trade.’ At the first place where I asked for work, a dirty little shop, far from pleasing to my aesthetic taste, the man hired me, and when at the end of the week, my back tired and my fingers sore, he handed me $2, I was proud, for it was the first real money I had ever earned.”