So here we are in the middle of summer and change is needed. The daily grind, the normal hours, the regular column — they just don't cut it during these long days!
Luckily, I was just sent a copy of Success magazine. If you haven't seen Success lately, you should really check it out. New, improved, slick, easy to read, full of great ideas, and even containing a CD of interviews, the new Success is quite impressive.
On the cover is a story discussing the 50 greatest entrepreneurs of all-time. Now that got my creative juices flowing. It got me to thinking. Who would I consider to be the Top 10 entrepreneurs of all time? For me, the best of the best are those who not only created a great business, but changed business and/or the world in the process.
You may disagree, and please leave a comment if you do. For my money, here are the Top 10 American Entrepreneurs Ever:
No. 10: Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com:If the essence of entrepreneurship is the willingness to take a risk with money to make money, then Bezos has it in spades.
When, while working on Wall Street in the early 90s, Bezos discovered that Internet usage was growing at an amazing 2,600% per year, he quit his cushy corporate gig, drove west to Seattle, started Amazon.com in his garage, and in the process, not only invented online shopping, but essentially, what the Internet would become.
No. 9: Juan Trippe, Pan Am:If the world has gone from, as Thomas Friedman says, large to tiny, then one of the founding fathers of that trend must be Trippe, the founder of the defunct Pan American airways. Trippe made airline travel affordable to the masses, and thus changed how we all travel. As he said, "In one fell swoop, we have shrunken the earth."
No. 8: Walt Disney, Disney:Despite early failures, including losing the rights to his first animated character (Waldo the Rabbit), and filing for bankruptcy, Walt Disney kept at it, eventually creating one of the great multi-disciplinary entertainment companies in history.
No. 7: Sam Walton, Wal-Mart:The inventor of the Big Box retail concept, Walton was an entrepreneur's entrepreneur. He started by seeing a need a filling it – opening stores in rural areas that not only needed what he sold, but which were less expensive to run. He passed saving along to customers, and it can easily be said that his progeny include Costco, Home Dept, and Ikea.
No. 6: Asa Candler, Coca Cola:No, Candler didn't invent Coca-Cola (pharmacist John Pemberton did) but he did come up with the idea to premix it, bottle it, and sell it. But maybe even more importantly, Candler was the marketing genius behind the creation of the Coca-Cola brand, and that has changed how we all think about business.
No. 5: John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil:Rockefeller's Standard Oil Co. was so successful, controlling almost 90% of America's refined oil by the 1890s, that he not only became the first billionaire, but his company was spilt into 38 separate companies by the Supreme Court, two of which went on to become Exxon and Mobil.
No. 4: Amadeo P. Giannini, Bank of America:Prior to Giannini, banking was the domain of businesses and rich folk only. His Bank of Italy became the Bank of America, and in the process, he invented modern individual banking, along with such innovations as bank branches, home mortgages, and car loans.