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The Influence of Rockfeller's Work Ethic on Business Success

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Do you ever wonder who were the masterminds that created America? Apart from a political point of view, who built the jobs, the factories, the life long businesses, the economy, the stock market, etc. Better yet do you ever wonder how they got there? The 1860s were a rough part of history for America, yet the American industrialist John D. Rockefeller was able to make the best out of it. Rockefeller The son of a traveling salesman, John Davison Rockefeller, was born in Richford, New York, on July 8, 1839. The future oil magnate, even as a child he wasn’t afraid of working hard. He earned money by raising turkeys, selling sweets, and doing neighboring work. The Rockefeller family moved to the area of Cleveland, Ohio in 1853, where John attended high school and then studied bookkeeping at a commercial college for a short time. It wasn’t until 1863, at the age of 20, where Rockefeller took a big risk and venture out on his own with a business partner and started his own company. Rockefeller borrowed money in 1865 to acquire some of his partners and take control of the refinery that had become Cleveland’s largest. He acquired new partners over the next few years, increasing his business interests in the growing oil industry. At the time, petroleum-derived kerosene was becoming an economic staple, used in lamps and Rockefeller realized this. In 1870, Rockefeller and his younger brother William (1841-1922), Henry Flagler (1830-1913) and a number of other men founded the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. The chairman and largest shareholder was John D Rockefeller.

Rockefeller’s success wasn’t something that was handed to him, he learned how to work hard, he studied his surroundings and he definitely knew it wasn’t going to be easy. As you grow bigger in the business world, the harder it will be for you to stay up there or improve your company. Rockefeller soon realized this as he tried to expand his pipelines but The Pennsylvania Railroad didn’t like this idea. Being the smart man that Rockefeller was, he used his contacts to his advantage. He stopped using The Pennsylvania Railroads for and shipments and started using other railroads. Eventually, Rockefeller won the battle making the railroads sell all their oil assets to Stander Oil. One of his strategies was to manipulate his competitors into thinking that their best and only option was his company. He would also buy his competitor’s business out to give him a larger market share, more control and refine his operations, not only did he buy his competitors out he also pressed discounts on shipping to undercutting their pricing. Rockefeller had a clever way of dealing with his competitor, he would either start a war with them that would lead to go bankrupt, manipulate them in purchasing an offer, or he would buy their company in an auction after they go bankrupt. Either way, he found a way to stay on top and win the game. He didn’t do it all alone, he used partnerships to add skills and better his business. Not only did he seek help through people but he also borrowed money to make better investments and compound the growth of his company. Through alliances and acquisitions, John D Rockefeller built his empire.

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This wasn’t all fun and games because soon enough people started noticing, a New York Times reported in 1937: “He was accused of crushing out competition, getting rich on rebates from railroads, bribing men to spy on competing companies, of making secret agreements, of coercing rivals to join the Standard Oil Company under threat of being forced out of business, building up enormous fortunes on the ruins of other men, and so on.” Someone might look at this and say “ what an awful way to become successful,” but from a business point of view, breaking the rules is part of the rules, and Rockefeller was ruthless. By 1880, his company was able to manage or control 90% of the U.S oil refining industry making it the world’s first major industrial monopoly. Yet Standard violated its Ohio charter by pursuing this position, which forbade the company to do business outside the country. In 1909, the Department of Justice filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Standard, arguing that the firm limited competition through its preferential railway contracts, pipeline power, and unfair practices such as price-cutting to push out smaller competitors. Antitrust proponents provided the ruling that only unfair trade interference forms a monopoly as a narrow judgment that benefited the trust, making this a decision that only favored the big businesses. The supreme court forced Stander to be broken down into 34 independent business across the nation. As much as we can learn from his success we can also learn from his failures, pricing plays a big role in business especially when it comes down to modest needs. Some people argue that he could’ve prevented getting the company slit up.

Being a businessman doesn’t always have to be about being ruthless and immortal. One of Rockefeller’s most striking characteristics was his personality and his self-control. One of the hardest things to do as a person is to control yourself, especially when it comes down to working with other people. Rockefeller was a sell-built businessman and he was a genius. He understood that in order to control other people you have to learn how to control yourself. Controlling your desires and emotions so he could focus all his impulse towards his goals. He would set a big goal for himself and achieve it with a work ethic. Rockefeller once said, “Only fools get swelled up over money.” Which is ironic coming from a multi-billionaire company owner, but most people can interpret this as him being prideful, but what he meant was totally the opposite, Rockerfeller learned how to control his ego and not make everything he did out of money. After all, he did donate a lot of money to promote the welfare of others, creating him a philanthropist. He always understood the importance of humility, from the start all the way throughout his career.

Creating a business is easy, what is not easy is having the power to control it, run it and make it successful. Rockefeller even as a young boy he learned how to work hard to achieve his goals. Once he had his company he learns work ethics to make sure Standard Oil was always the best, he made mistakes but he fixed them. There a lot to learn when it comes to working with or against other people, you need to learn what rights after you learn what right you have to do what’s at your convenience. Rockefeller was a great businessman and there’s so much we can learn from people like him.

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