Top positive review
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Outstanding choice of stories
on 4 February 2013
I'm surprised Forbes (or author Daniel Gross) have never tried to repeat this book, because it's an outstanding business read. It contains 20 chapters of great (US) business and companies, and takes a very interesting angle to the selection, and each chapter contains a unique story of how individuals built a great business.
The full list of chapters includes: Robert Morris, Cyrus McCormick, J D Rockefeller, Walt Disney, John H Johnson (the first African-American to make the Forbes 400), Joseph Wilson (Xerox), Intel, William McGowan (MCI), and Bill Gates and Microsoft.
But my favourites are these:
Charles Merrill: In the early 20th century, Merrill turned the investment world on its head with the notion of selling stocks and bonds to middle-class retail customers.
David Sarnoff (RCA): with a detailed business plan to sell radios, Sarnoff sought out something for people to listen to on them. Starting with a Jack Dempsey fight, RCA built a radio broadcast network.
David Ogilvy: Became fluent in the scientific testing and measuring of public opinion by working for the Gallup organisation - his innovation was to bring the dispassionate science of popular opinion to bear on advertising.
Ray Kroc (McDonalds): Kroc built one of the most compelling brands of all time. But his decision to use real estate as a financial lever (as opposed to squeezing franchisees) made McDonald's a financial powerhouse.
American Express: it's transformation from an express company through traveller's cheques and the charge card.
Mary Kay Ash: Mary Kay built a new corporate culture based on the education, participation, and empowerment of women.
J P Morgan: Morgan demonstrated again and again that he could impose order on chaotic situations and change entire industries through sheer strength of character.
Henry Ford: Ford invented neither the automobile nor the assembly line, but recast each to transform the USA's way of life, democratising the automobile through producing the Model T ever more inexpensively.
Sam Walton: built a gigantic business by insisting on perfection, driving down costs and passing the savings on to customers.
Harley Davidson: This is specifically a story of the turnaround of Harley in the 80s - regaining its pre-eminence, cornering 59 percent of the market for heavy-weight motorcycles, outracing second-place Honda, which held 15 percent.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts: KKR's partners became near-billionaires by applying their initial insight: that debt enforces a unique kind of discipline on managers and owners. The KKR philosophy of using high-level debt to enhance value has since been adopted by the managers of hundreds of publicly held firms.
No Kindle version, but a great book you can dip in and out of.