Dollars and Sense
[Revised and Enlarged Edition]
Being Memoranda made in the School of Practical Experience
Golden Helps for Employer and Employee
Cheer, Courage, Help for the Weak, Weary, Discouraged Ones who Live in Shadowland
Cures for Worry and Fear Backbone Instead of Wishbone
Guides and Experience which will Bring Success in Business, Happiness in Your Home, Respect of Your Neighbors, Love of Friends, and altogether Many Helps which will show you how to make this life well worth the living
By Col. Wm. C. Hunter
Price Paper Cover, 25 cents a Copy Cloth Bound, 50 cents a Copy Pro rata for any quantity
Published by Hunter &. Company Oak Park, Illinois. U.S.A.
Each Chapter Separately Copyrighted in 1906
Copyrighted in Book Form, 1907
Revised and Enlarged Edition, Copyright, 1908 by Wm. C. Hunter
All Rights Reserved
Aches and Pains 100 Advertising 32 Advice 39 Ambition 18 Anger 94 Argument 42 Associates 61 Backbone and Wishbone 108 Brains, Birth, Boodle 105 Bribes 120 Buying 34 Catching Up 93 Cigarets 64 Compensation 25 Competition 30 Credit 11 Debt 103 Discontent 98 Do Good 108 Double Equipment 109 Dressing 100 Elimination 46 Employees 89 Enthusiasm 92 Expenses 35 Financing 96 Fixed Charges 63 Friends 88 Frozen Dog Tales 129 Generalists 99 Get Away 109 Good Fellowship 67 Good for Evil 65 Gossip 120 Groundwork 7 Grumbling 60 Hard Times 59 Hard Work 68 Health 56 Home Life 77 Honesty 73 Horse Sense 50 Hypochondriacs 122 Independence 85 Initiative 110 Kindness 69 Lawyers 19 Laxity 92 Learn to Play 66 Learn to Say No 9 Managers 51 Memory 79 Monthly Dividends 102 My Symphony 126 Never Quit Work 13 Night Work 111 Obedience 113 Optimism 78 Our Sons 117 Patience 57 Pay Day 114 Perspiration 87 Politics 123 Precedent 95 Producers 21 Profanity 123 Promises 84 Pull 119 Reading 40 Rule of Gold 125 Salesmen 71 Saving 115 Selling 52 Short Letters 87 Sizing Up Things 27 Sleep 60 Specialists 47 Speculation 43 Stand When Selling 15 Stenographers 121 Success 74 System 124 The Boss 26 The Man, Not the Plan 23 The String 49 Thinking 75 Vacations 55 Vantage Ground 16 Waiting for Success 116 Worry 81
The Author respectfully dedicates this book
to the Officers and Proprietors
to the Managers and Superintendents
to the Buyers and Sellers
to the Clerks and Office Men
to the Youth seeking promotion
to the Boy with his first job
and to all who wish to get Happiness Health and Dollars.
Dollars and Sense
When you cut a melon, your friends will come with eager mouths and sit under your shade tree and help you eat it. Few of these friends would respond to your call for help when you were working in the hot sun raising that melon.
Many people accept the dividends and benefits of friendship but give you a cold shoulder when called upon for assessments of friendship.
The world is full of young men whose objective is snaps. They are looking all the time for what they can get and not what they can give.
To forge ahead, you must give value received. You can't draw out all the time.
The employe must do what he is paid to do and "then some," for it is this "then some" or plus that gets your salary raised.
The employer and employe must realize that each must make profit. It is because there are so many ingrates and so many four flushers that so few succeed.
This book will be welcomed by those who are square, ambitious and patient. It is not theory. It is not preaching. These chapters will be old friends to you, and you may read a few minutes or a few hours. You may read and re-read as often as you wish, for you will always find some new truth impressed on you every time you read.
Keep this book, carry it with you, and you will be benefitted.
Worry and fear will fade and peace and courage will grow within you the more you study these pages.
The writer has "been at it" for 32 years. He has had successes, failures, joys, sorrows, and experienced the passions, the problems, the difficulties you have experienced.
Since the age of ten years he has been upon his own resources and the 32 years since then have been years of study, working and playing, all blended into a happy life.
The jolts, set backs, sorrows, worries, fears and discouragements are the things which made him strong. They were experiences.
Smooth sailing doesn't bring out the stuff one is made of. It takes shadows to make sunlight appreciated.
It takes reverses to make success. It takes hard knocks to polish you. This is a book of experiences, not one of theories.
There is no attempt to make this a literary effort. All the writer hopes for or cares to do is to truthfully state facts and experiences in plain language. Study the thought rather than the expression.
It is Sense the writer wants to express rather than nonsense.
The writer is happy to say that the previous editions sold rapidly and his friends not only read, but pass the word along.
The way to get happiness is to make others happy and the present of one of these books to a friend or employe is a quick way to get happiness.
Let us go along together and consider some of the problems which we all have to face in our business as well as our social life. A volume could be written on each chapter. But volumes are tiresome and herein you will find net values which are the result of boiling down.
So now we have the groundwork of this book. We understand each other. Simply take these truths for their evident worth. You won't agree with the writer in all things, of course not. If, however, you get one truth that will help you, then you have been repaid for reading this book and the writer has been repaid for writing it.
Learn to Say No.
Look over the history of the thousands who have failed in business, and you will find in nearly every instance the failure was due to an inability to say No.
People come to us under various guises and ask us to do things which in our better judgment we had rather not do, and too many have not the backbone to say No.
We are led to invest in mining stocks and to embark in precarious enterprises because we cannot say No.
We endorse notes and go security for our friends, not because we want to but because we cannot say No.
There is a class of "good fellows" who are after us to join them in physical pleasures, the foregoing of which would be better for us physically, financially and mentally. Too many join them because they cannot say No.
It is rarely a man goes off deliberately and gets drunk. The lone drunk is usually the result of sorrow, sudden financial blow or a hard jolt of some sort.
The man who gets drunk generally does so because he cannot say No when bibulous friends press him to take a drink.
The ability to say No, to refrain from going with the crowd, to decline to go down stream is, more than any other one thing in this life, the mark of a strong character.
The one who can say No is going to succeed. Temporarily he may feel ashamed; he may find it hard to withstand the jibes and jeers and criticism of his friends for refusing to join them in things he should not do.
Our old friend—the law of compensation—comes in here, for in proportion as a man has the ability to say No, who has the courage of his convictions, whose duty is to his body and his family before the temptations that surround him, so in proportion as there are few such individuals these individuals stand out as marked successes.
The manager of one of the biggest breweries in the United States has not tasted liquor of any kind in the last twenty years. Surely this man shows his courage, for his action in face of his occupation is a supreme test of backbone and ability to say No.
The embezzler does not start out to do wrong. Some friends want to borrow money or someone needs financial aid temporarily, and, either at the request of friends or because the individual has something he wishes to purchase and has not the patience to wait, he borrows from the firm by means of "the ticket in the drawer" plan. He repeats the operation frequently until his conscience is dulled, and he gets the habit. Some day he wakes up to find he has several tickets in the drawer, and resorts to extreme measures, trying to beat the races, or to win money by gambling on stocks or grain.
One day he finds he is in a dickens of a fix. He sees no way out of it. He takes more money and skips out, only to be caught later on and made to suffer, and all this because he could not say No to temptation.
Learn to say No. Set your jaws firmly and say No. The friends who go back on you and criticize you for saying No to the things that are hurtful to you are unworthy of the name of friends, and you can very well get along without them.
Friends who ask you to do the things you should not do are the very ones who are of no service to you in time of need.
The individual who says No regardless of the flings and taunts that are cast at him is the one who eventually makes a success.
Character counts above all things in the business world. The banker extends credit on character oftener than we imagine. The banker knows how to say No.
A man's credit and character are most important factors in business, and many a man without security has attained magnificent success through untiring energy, ability, character and courage enough to say No.
In proportion as you grow strong and unhesitating in saying No, the temptations and opportunities to say Yes will lessen in number.
Exercise your back bone and your jaw bone, so you can say No and stick to it.
No factor is so necessary in building up business as credit, and no factor is so necessary in building up credit as truth.
It is comparatively easy to start credit, but the art is to keep credit.
The young business man who says "I want no credit, I buy and sell for cash" makes a mistake. It is all right to pay promptly, but do not establish a spot cash payment basis, for later on, when you ask credit, your creditors will think something is wrong.
Establish a credit whether you need it or not. It is a good advertisement and a frequent help.
Be reasonably slow in paying your bills, but positively sure that you do pay them.
When you get a sharp or blunt letter asking for a settlement, go to your creditor face to face, set a date when you will make a payment and keep your agreement.
Don't be specific as to amount unless you are decidedly sure you can do it. Be specific as to date, however, and be there or have your check there on the date.
Suppose a man owes you $100 and you ask him for it and he says "Here are ten dollars on account, and on next Thursday I will make another payment, and as often as I can I will pay something until you are fully paid up." You don't get angry at that man when you see his intentions are good and he is doing his best.
So long as your creditor gets something every time he writes it keeps him good natured.
It is the man who breaks promises who gets hard usage from the creditors.
If you owe more than your present cash balance can liquidate, make a pro rata payment all around among your creditors. Write a good square letter saying nothing would please you more than to send a check in full, and that this payment is made as evidence of your willingness and intention to keep good faith.
Keep in touch personally with your creditors as far as possible. Talk to them of your plans and prospects. Always tell the truth. Have your account as a moral risk rather than as a Dun or Bradstreet risk.
There is sentiment in business. Creditors have hearts and they have good impulses. They appreciate friendship and especially gratitude. Don't believe a word of that great untruth "There is no sentiment in business."
Don't get angry when asked for money. Admit your slowness and tell your creditor that as an offset for your present slowness you have a good memory and a heart that appreciates, and some day your purchases will be much larger, and those who are your friends now will certainly get the benefit when the time comes that you do not require favors.
An honest, frank, heart to heart talk is most valuable. The credit man keeps the truthful man in mind and his account under his protecting wing. The credit man glories with you, and has a distinct interest in your success when it comes.
It often happens that the small bank or small manufacturer is the best place for the beginner to go for credit. You can get closer to the small growing creditor than you can to the big fellow who is independent.
The big bank is cold blooded. It insists upon security and collateral. Your account in a big bank is only an incidental detail, and the cashier is cold and distant and blunt.
The small bank, however, gives you more time and attention, is more interested in you and can remember you much better than the big bank.
Avoid bad associates. You can't play the races and give wine dinners and maintain strong confidence with your creditors.
You must be worthy of the confidence reposed in you. It is your duty and part of the contract to be reliable and truthful.
Every time a creditor gets out of sorts go to him and pay him something, and he will quiet down.
Be grateful. Don't be afraid to express yourself freely and frequently on this point.
When you are caught up and financially strong stick to those who stuck by you.
Remember, credit is based on confidence in the individual rather than in his bank account.
Don't get into nasty arguments or disputes. Give and take. Be fair. Be square. Keep your temper. Stoop to conquer. Cut out all thoughts of revenge.
When a house does not treat you right, curb your temper, and, as soon as you can, get in touch with some other good house. Tell the new house frankly why you changed.
Credit is a subsidy, and it stands the hustling business man in good stead.
Many men have started in business with a capital only of ability, hard work, honesty and good reputation.
The use or abuse of credit determines whether a man will rise or fall.
Keep your record clean, and if later you get on the shoals your past will stand you in good stead.
If you have been given to sharp practice or dishonesty, woe be unto you when you fall.
Remember these things carefully. Keep in personal touch with your creditors, keep your promises, pay on account when you cannot pay in full, hustle, be honest, keep good company, don't gamble, don't be a sport. If you practice these virtues, offers of aid will come to you rather than flee from you.
Never Quit Work
The average young man makes up his mind that at fifty or sixty years of age he will retire and take things easy for the rest of his days. The average young man makes a great mistake. It is far better to wear out than to rust out.
To the young man work is a drudge, a necessity to keep him alive. In middle age work is an accepted thing and we are used to it, and feel rather the better for having occupation.
In old age work is a necessity to keep the mind and body young.
There is scarcely a more miserable spectacle than the man of fifty or sixty who has retired with ample fortune. He loafs around the house. Goes from one club to another. Gets lonely. Feels blue.
He tries to kill time in the day looking forward to the meeting of his cronies in the evening. The cronies are busy in the day time and they have engagements and pleasures in the evening, so that our retired friend seems to be in the way.
He finds that the anticipation of retirement was a pleasure, and that the realization is a keen disappointment.
"There is nothing," says Carnegie, "absolutely nothing in money beyond a competence."
When one has enough money to buy things for the home, for his family comfort and enjoyment, when he has sufficient income to take care of himself and his family, surplus dollars do not mean much.
The business man should prepare for his future so that if ill health overtakes him he may have the where-with to surround himself with comforts, travel and the best of care.
The man who enjoys pleasures of the home and friends, who trains up young blood to take hold of the business, who travels and enjoys himself as he goes along has the right idea.
We must learn to enjoy life now instead of waiting for tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.
The man who cashes in, puts his money in bonds and retires from all work goes down hill quickly, and feels he is of no use in the world.
The farmer who moves in town to live on his income is a sorry individual unless he has a garden and chickens, or buys and sells farms, or occupies his time with work of some kind.
The retired, non-working farmer who has moved to town gets up in the morning, goes to see the train come in, whittles a stick, loafs at the hotel or store, goes to the next train, talks of his rheumatism, goes to bed at eight o'clock, and the next day goes through the same rigmarole.
We have all seen these old codgers who have retired. They are not happy because they have quit their life's habit of work, and are rusting out.
Occupation is the plan of nature to keep man happy, so when you have all the money you need, have some occupation or hobby to occupy your time.
The man who retires from any active work is merely counting the days until he dies.
When old age comes and your body or brain won't let you do or care for as much as you could in your younger days, then get lighter work or lighter cares.
Keep busy if it is only raising chickens or gardening, or studying astronomy or botany.
Keep at it as long as you can. Die in the harness instead of fading slowly away.
Cultivate the reading habit in your younger days that it may be a pleasant occupation when your legs and hands grow feeble with age.
When you quit work or occupation of some sort then life has no beauty for you.
Stand When Selling
You can make your point clearer, you can talk with more force, you can impress and convince your customer better if you stand while he is seated.
Have you ever noticed that when you are seated and the other fellow is standing it puts you at a disadvantage? Try it some time.
Have you not noticed that if you are seated and your adversary is standing, when you get enthusiastic and wish to combat his argument, it is impossible for you to get in your best licks while you are seated? You involuntarily rise when you make your strong points and are full of your subject.
How far would a life insurance man or an advertising man get if he sat down and leaned back and relaxed while talking to you?
You will observe that the good solicitor declines with thanks your proffered chair. He stands up, he knows the value of standing.
By the relation between his standing and you sitting it makes him a positive and you a negative force. He forces—you receive.
How much would an orator impress his audience if he delivered his lecture in a sitting posture?
You cannot combat argument very well if you are sitting, nor can you convince others as well sitting as standing.
When you call on a customer carry a busy air with you. Stand up. Talk straight from the shoulder. Make your point and claims clear. Place your position or proposition definitely, forcefully and quickly before your customer. Make a good get-away when you have accomplished your purpose.
If you don't land him the first time, get away anyway. Let him see that your time is money, and that you appreciate that his time is money, too.
Don't visit. Gracefully and politely decline the chair that is offered; say that your limit of time and disinclination to trespass require your stay to be brief.
Stand. Keep busy and active. Get away quickly, and you will be welcome next time.
The short stayer is a welcome guest. He may not land his customers as quickly, but in the end he will land more customers, and hold them closer and retain them longer than the tedious, visiting, social bore who sits and sits and sits.
The Best Vantage Ground
In closing a contract or settling a dispute it makes considerable difference whether you are in the other fellow's office or in your own.
The man in whose office the transaction takes place has the decided advantage.
If you have a disputed bill, or if you wish to make a contract for material or merchandise use every effort to get the other man in your office. When you go to another office you are on the aggressive, when another man comes to your office you are on the defensive.
It is great diplomacy to get the man you deal with to come to you instead of going to him. In proportion as you are diplomatic you will be able to benefit.
If you meet the other man in a club, hotel or a place outside of your office or the other man's office, then the vantage ground is even and neither has the best of it so far as location is concerned.
Starting from an even vantage ground the advantage shifts greatly one way or the other according to whether you go or the other man comes.
Railroad officials, bankers and great merchants realize the importance of having the vantage ground in their favor.
The merchant, for instance, has private rooms and regular office hours for his buyers, and he lets the manufacturers come to him.
Stop a moment and look over your own experience, and you will recall numerous instances where it has been to your advantage to close a deal in your own office.
There is nothing in what we have written in this series of talks that has less theory in it than this particular chapter.
There is no point we have made more surely proven by experience.
The army that attacks the enemy in the enemy's country has the odds against it, as all wars have proven. Men fight best at home on their own vantage ground.
Whether you are buying or selling try to close the deal in your own place of business.
If you have travelers on the road let it be part of their business and duty to invite and persuade customers to call at your place of business when they are in town.
A man without ambition had better content himself with learning a trade. A good mechanic is fairly sure of three dollars a day, and fifty-two weeks' employment in the year.
The mechanic does not have many worries. He does not have notes to meet at the bank. He does not have to face the ingratitude of employes and petty jealousies, for he has no employes working for him.
He lays down his tools when the bell rings and goes home to his family. His ambition is to have a good place to sleep, plenty to eat, money enough to buy clothing for his family and to send his children to school, and extra spending money enough over his fixed charges to allow him to take his family to the circus when it comes to town.
Ambition makes men strive to get ahead. Ambition cultivates taking chances.
Nearly every man is a gambler. Some of you will be shocked at this statement, yet upon careful analysis nearly every move a successful business man makes is a gamble. He is betting that he will take in more money than he lays out on a new plan. The man with ambition is a gambler. The man who learns a trade and does not strive to increase his earnings is not a gambler.
We pride ourselves on our ability to buy cheaply, because the cheaper we can buy the greater our earnings will be and the less our gamble.
Any man with two hands and ordinary health can earn a livelihood, but the ambitious man wants to make a name for himself and to make a success in business, so he works harder than he would do if his problem were only the obtaining of money enough to buy the things necessary for his existence.
The moment a man loses ambition, his progress, so far as business advancement is concerned, ceases.
Nearly every successful business today is successful because the proprietors, in the infancy of the business, were filled with ambition which made them work hard.
We are all familiar with the successful business man who loses his ambition. It is an absolute certainty that as soon as a man loses ambition his business falls off, unless he makes it an object to take care of the ambitious young men in his employ, so that they may keep up the pace of progress he established.
Keep in touch with a lawyer, but don't take his advice on business matters.
A lawyer should be like a dictionary—a place of reference.
Lawyers by the very nature of their vocation have much to do with concerns who are in trouble, and with firms who are poorly managed.
Lawyers know law first and business second; the business man knows business first and law second.
The advice of one successful business man is worth the advice of twenty-three lawyers on a matter of business.
Use the lawyer to keep you out of trouble. Let him see your contracts and the papers and agreements pertaining to leases, sales, purchases, royalties, and all documents which may from their nature be brought into court as evidence. These things are the ones on which to take the lawyer's advice.
When you are pushed into a corner and must fight, then get the best lawyer, for in a fight in court, like a fight in the prize ring, the best trained and equipped man usually wins.
It's more often the best lawyer wins than the best side of the case.
Legal struggles seldom pay. Law suits take up time and money, and the result, even if in your favor, seldom offsets the time, money and worry you have expended.
The good lawyer keeps you from fighting. Many lawyers, however, are grafters, and they advise fight, for they win whether you do or not.
Settle disputes even if you are imposed on. There is little satisfaction in getting a judgment for one hundred dollars, when your lawyers fees are fifty dollars and you have expended two hundred dollars' worth of time and worry over the case.
Ask your lawyer's advice on the legal status of your operations, and not on business propositions.
If you are a success in business that is an evidence, generally speaking, that your judgment is good.
You can get all the advice you want for nothing. If you state a case and lay out a proposed plan, and then ask your friends' advice on the subject, you can safely count that nine out of ten will say that your proposition is all right as outlined by you.
These friends figure that you have given the plan much thought and study, and it is much simpler for them to coincide with your opinion than to take an opposite view.
Honestly between ourselves we must admit that when we seek advice we generally do it only for the purpose of having our own opinions confirmed, and, if our friends do not agree with us, we say they are prejudiced.
Lawyers don't see the smooth, systematic, well balanced side of business, and their knowledge is all negative instead of positive on business matters.
If you have an important move in mind, map out the plan carefully, lay the plan out in detail, be conservative in your estimate of prospective profits, and always make a liberal allowance for cost over the figures you have prepared, and deduct a liberal percentage from the receipts you anticipate. Be very conservative in matters of figures, and then some.
The building you propose to put up will cost far more than your architect tells you. You know this in advance, and you make an allowance for extras, but when the bills all come in you will find that in addition to the estimated cost and the extras which you have figured on, there will be something else to pay.
The sales of a business you propose to embark in will be less than you or your manager figure they will be.
Always allow for enthusiasm and imagination in the matter of prospective receipts.
When your plans are all in shape show the documents, contracts and agreements to your lawyer, and get his legal, but not his personal, advice.
You must be the doctor of your own business.
Remember, a lawyer knows law, and a business man knows business.
Be a Producer
Employes are divided into two classes—the kind that makes profits and the kind that is on the expense side of the ledger.
The young man who has the foresight and ability to get on the selling side, the side that brings profit to the house, has the decided advantage over the young man who is on the expense side.
Book-keepers, stock-keepers, clerks and all other expense employes are paid far lower salaries than the salesmen and buyers, those who produce results.
In the newspaper business the editor with his college education has practically attained his limit of progress when he is 40 years old. He may get from $20.00 to $80.00 or even $100.00 a week as editor.
The young man in the advertising department may get from $50.00 to $200.00 a week. He is a producer of tangible results; the editor produces theoretical results.
In every business the man who sells things, who brings in the profits, is the man who gets the best pay.
The boss will grudgingly give a dollar a week increase to the book-keeper. He only thinks what it would cost him to replace the book-keeper.
The producer gets his increases in $5.00 and $10.00 a week jumps.
The expense employe is in competition with the great army of the unemployed, and there are multitudes who will work for less money than the man who is holding his job on the expense side.
The producer, on the other hand, knows how much profit he is bringing into his house, and if those profits are steadily increasing he may be sure his salary will increase proportionately. If it does not he can always get another position by laying the facts and figures before some more enterprising house.
The producer is seldom out of a situation. If for any reason he is out of employment temporarily he can go to a good house and work on commission, or get a small drawing account, and at three or six months talk salary on actual showing made.
The shrewd business man won't let profits slip away if he can help it, so the real producer sits in a pretty good seat. He has only to show what he can do and he will be paid accordingly.
The expense man's only stock in trade is faithfulness, neatness and amount of detail he can handle. He has little lee-way in the matter of salary, for thousands are faithful, thousands are neat and thousands can perform great amounts of detail.
The young man just out of school should have for his ideal that he shall be a producer first and a proprietor later on. To this end he should equip himself by spending four or five years acquainting himself thoroughly with all the phases and departments of the business and learning the facts about the manufacture of the goods he expects to sell eventually. All this understanding and preparation will be of great service when he is a salesman, and greater service when he is a proprietor.
The writer started wholly dependent upon his own exertions for a livelihood at fourteen years of age. At fifteen he learned shorthand by evening study. At sixteen he attended to the correspondence and mail order department for his employer. At eighteen he was getting $8.00 a week in cash for his services, and many times that amount in valued experience.
"One day he got a blank application for a $75.00 clerkship in the Post Office. At that time appointments were made by political pull and not through the civil service. The writer took the blank to a relative, who was the leading politician of the State. He asked for the endorsement of this senator and received this advice: "Young man, my signature to this sheet would get you the job, but if you were my son I would not let you take the place. I will give you some advice, which is this—never take a political, railroad or bank job. In all these callings you are in competition with thousands of others. The compensation is small, the chance to better your position is remote, and you are a machine. If you want to make a success of life be a producer, learn to sell things."
This advice was acted on, and the writer remembers it as the turning point in his career.
It is a sad thing to see the old man working for $40.00 or $50.00 a month who in the past drew $3,000 or $4,000 a year. Such men were expense men and not producers.
Moves on the checker board of business are made quickly. The man with silver hair may be an accountant or confidential man drawing a good salary. Something happens, his firm goes out of business or sells out, and our old friend is left without a position. He has been used to the comforts and associations a good salary allows, and now he finds himself out of a place and faces the necessity of starting over again, and his competitors are young and active men ready for the battle of life.
The old man out of a job goes around amongst his friends. The friend can do nothing but gives him a letter of recommendation. He is passed along from one to another until he is foot-sore and heart sick and weary of it all.
He winds up as a sleeping car conductor, or gets a position as floor walker or clerk at the inquiry desk.
The producer, be he ever so old or ever so often out of a job, can catch on again. He gets his job on results and not sympathy.
Business men are on the lookout for producers.
Young man, learn to be a producer.
The Man—Not the Plan
We are prone to give credit to the plan as being the thing that makes a successful business. It is not the plan, it is the man behind the plan that is responsible for the success.
The man who has a well-defined ideal, who hews to the line, who eliminates all deterrent influences, who concentrates his energy on his ideal, who bends his efforts towards the one thing is pretty sure to accomplish his purpose.
We often see a man make a marked success in a field that others have considered barren.
Take a small town, for instance, where there are many retail stores. The people of the town will tell the prospective merchant that the town is already overcrowded with stores, that none of the stores seem to be making more than a bare living, and that it would be impossible for another store to make a success, on account of the already overcrowded conditions, yet the right man comes along and starts a store in that town and makes a marked success.
If the plan were the making of success, all an enterprising business man would have to do would be to pick out some plan which was successful and then imitate it.
The great ocean of business has many derelicts on it as a result of copying plans. It is a part of the law of compensation that the man who originates a plan and carries it to successful conclusion has a patent on his business. This patent is his individuality and good business equipment. The man who steals his plan physically is unable to steal the mental end.
Since men have recorded facts in the shape of history, we find that men have made successes of plans and businesses that have been discarded by their predecessors as played-out plans.
When a plan is presented to you do not calculate the outcome by the plan, but by the man.
Two banks may start side by side with exactly the same office furniture and exactly the same business operations. They use the same kind of money; they make loans on lands or on securities. The operations of these two banks may be as closely identical as possible, yet within ten years one bank will have considerable surplus and the other may be out of business.
If the plan were the measure of success these two banks should fare equally well, but the fact that they differed so materially is in itself evidence that the success is determined by the individuals and not the plan.
The illustration of a bank may be carried into other lines, merchandising, manufacturing or railroading.
The law of Compensation is—you pay for what you get, or you get what you pay for.
This law says if a horse can run fast it can't pull a good load and vice versa.
This law says a horse cannot go fast far.
It says that for every sorrow there is a joy, for every positive there is a negative.
Where evil exists there is some good to offset it, says compensation.
The law of compensation is the measure optimists use, and in nearly every chapter we have written in this series, compensation will be found as a ground-work.
You can't get away from nor violate this rule of compensation.
It is not new, it is as old as creation itself.
Centuries ago it was expressed this way: "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
Too many try to ignore this great rule, they try to get something for nothing.
You may eat first and pay afterwards, or you may pay first and eat afterwards.
You may play the butterfly; sip life's sweets and sow your wild oats now, but pay day will come and may be you will be unable to pay.
You may spend your income now and suffer want later on.
You may work hard now and play as you go along. You may have happiness each day you live; you can make life worth living if you work.
Happiness is compensation for work; no work, no happiness.
You may have what you want, but, you must pay for it.
Millions cost happiness and often cost health too.
The dinner is properly balanced when it has sweets as well as substantials. The sensible person finds the dinner is better if the sweets come after the substantials.
To violate the law of compensation is to eat the sweets first and then the substantials, and by this law the substantials do not taste good when they are eaten after the sweets.
The man who procrastinates is violating the law of compensation. When you see your duty attend to it at once.
By the boss we mean the active proprietor, the executive head, the owner of the business. He is sometimes called the "old man."
The success of an institution depends largely upon the example set by the boss.
If the boss is careless in little things, if he is sharp in his practice, if he does mean acts, he may rely upon it his employes will copy him, and later on, when some blow strikes the business, he will find it has happened through the practices of the employes who got their cues from the boss.
Kindness wins kindness; love wins love. If the boss is generous and charitable, if he sets a good example, he will have an esprit de corps among his employes that is of incalculable value.
There is not one chance in a thousand for the boss to make a success unless he has risen to the position of boss, and climbed and earned his position through steady progress.
The boss must know how to do the things he hires others to do.
The boss who can show an employe his error in a kindly manner and point out a better method, leaves a good feeling in the heart of that employe.
The boss who shows his heart to the employe and is concerned in the things not necessarily business will be repaid a thousand-fold in loyalty and willingness on the part of the employe.
Employes deeply appreciate consideration, and especially the little kindnesses which are not what might be called business practice.
The boss should not be too far aloof; he should be just head and shoulders above those working under him; he should be just far enough above that he stands out as a commander.
He should be willing to grant an audience to an employe and should work with him.
The boss should say we rather than I. He should talk with the employes and not down to them. He should make each individual under him feel that he is part of the institution and an element in its success.
Remember this—employes watch the boss and they copy him. Where you find hard working employes you will find a hard working boss.
The boss cannot run the whole business himself; he is dependent upon willing hands, and, in order to get willing hands, he must have willing hands himself.
If the boss is alert and discovers wastes and leaks in his business, the employes will discover them too, and the business will receive double benefit.
Sizing Up Things
One of the most necessary as well as beneficial practices a man can have is to take fifteen minutes to an hour each day and devote the time to sizing up things, to planning the day's work for the morrow, to threshing the wheat from the chaff, to reviewing the accomplishments of the day.
Sizing up things can only be well done in solitude.
The benefits of sizing up things in solitude are so great it is a wonder more has not been written on the subject.
Plants grow in darkness, yet the common understanding is they grow in sunshine. The sunshine is absolutely necessary for the growth of the plant, but the real growth is done in the quiet darkness.
A man's brain develops in solitude, yet bustle and crowds and business activity are as necessary to the man as sunshine is to the plant.
The real brain and moral growth takes place in solitude.
Here again we must remember the law of compensation, for if a plant had all sunshine and no shadow, and if a man had all hustle and bustle and no solitude, it would be like a machine without a governor; the man and the plant would run so fast something would have to give way.
On the other hand compensation says that if a man is too much in solitude, or the plant too much in darkness, they will wither and die.
Man has always had strong admiration for the strong individual, whether bird, beast, fish, plant or human.
There are two kinds of birds, the kind that lives in flocks, like the blackbird and the wild duck, and the kind that lives by itself, like the eagle. Amongst birds the eagle is chosen as an emblem for the flag, and never the duck or blackbird.
Amongst beasts there are two classes, the herd kind like sheep, and the strong individual, like the lion. The lion is the symbol of strength and courage, the sheep the symbol of innocence and simplicity. The lion appears on coat of arms but not the sheep.
In the fish family there are two classes, the kind that lives in schools, like the mackerel, and the kind that lives by itself, like the whale.
When first the savage drew a rude picture of a fish on his hut it was a whale, and not a mackerel.
We do not find the mackerel's picture excepting at the fish dealers and on the menu, and then only because the mackerel is good to eat.
Among trees the one that attains great proportions and beautiful symmetry is yonder giant oak or elm that grows in the open. It needs room to breathe and grow. It grows better if it is segregated from the crowded forest. The giant tree is not the one that grows in the dense forest.
There are two kinds of men, the kind that lives in the herd and the kind that has strong individuality that needs room to grow. The herd man exists in infinitely greater numbers than the individual man.
We cannot imagine Lincoln, Bismarck, Webster, Clay, Edison or Burbank living in the herd, or spending their time in the boulevard cafes.
The man who lives in a herd, who is ever present where the lights are bright, where gaiety abounds, where excitement reigns, where feasting is present, soon gets himself into the habit of cultivating this excitement. He is never happy when alone.
The brain never sleeps and something must occupy it. The herd man fills his brain with frivolous things, he seeks constant excitement. He is like the plant always in the sun, he burns himself out.
The great man with the individuality is great because he has always spent plenty of tune by himself, sizing up things in solitude. Sizing up things makes the brain grow and makes it stronger.
The universities of this country tend in a great measure to produce the herd man. The students dress alike. All have the same mannerisms, all have the same tilt to their hats, and all the same turned up trousers. They feed at certain restaurants and crowd in flocks. Very few college men learn the benefits of sizing up things in solitude until in after years.
On the other hand the student in the school of practical experience does not copy his fellow students. That is why in this great practical experience school we find Lincolns, Edisons, Jim Hills and Carnegies. Those men have to wrestle with the problems for themselves. They had to size up things in solitude instead of reading the sizing up from text books, as is done in the regular university.
Every man before retiring at night, or even during the day, should take a few minutes to himself and carefully analyze the doings of the day.
He should weigh the positive and negative acts, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the right and the wrong impulses, the gain and loss in achievement. He should strike a balance, and if he sees that the bad, deterrent and backward things in the lead he should resolve to get a move on himself.
The man who goes along without this sizing up things in solitude is like the merchant who keeps no record, who pays his bills from the cash drawer and takes what is left for profit. He will still be running a little shop in twenty years, while his competitor who sized things up each day will be in the wholesale business or will have retired with a competency.
Try this sizing up things for two weeks, and the benefits you will receive will be so manifest it will need no further suggestion to make you keep up the practice.
The saying is "competition is the life of trade," and this saying is true, or it would not have endured so long.
If it were not for competition we should be living in the woods in a state of savagery.
Ages ago all men and women led the simple life. Their chief vocation was idleness. When the weather was hot the man sat in the shade; as the sunshine crept to him he moved into the shade again. In winter he reversed the process.
When our savage ancestor felt a pain in his stomach, his simple instinct showed him that if he put things in his mouth and swallowed them the pain in the stomach would leave.
This low browed man's whole object in life was to keep from having those hunger pains, and the only energy he expended was in hustling for food and in protecting his food from the other savages.
One day a man observed that the beasts lived on each other, so he conceived the idea that it would be good for him to live on other animals. That it would be easier than digging roots and gathering herbs, so this man caught and ate slow-moving animals. He used a club to do the killing.
Along about here competition began, for another man learned to throw a club and kill his game. Then another competitor discovered that a round stone was a more effective weapon than a club.
These hairy forbears of ours lived in caves until competition led up to the building of huts.
One day a savage discovered that while the skins of animals were hard to eat, they nevertheless made a good body covering. Another discovered that if the skins were tied about him it left his arms free to act. This man was the first tailor. He punched holes in the skin and tied the rude garment together with strips of skin. This first tailor was quite an important man among his fellows on account of his great discovery.
Some of these wild men were fleet of foot and had well developed cunning. They became expert hunters. On the other hand some of the less active, by the law of compensation, became more expert tailors, so trade was formed. The hunter killed enough for himself and the tailor, while the tailor made clothes for both of them.
In these days the woodsman lived on animals and the plainsman on vegetables mostly. So the woodsman traded skin clothing with the plainsman for grains and herbs, and this marked the birth of commerce.
Then dugouts and canoes were built, and thus our ancestors crossed lakes and seas and developed maritime commerce.
From away back in those dark ages up to the present time competition has stimulated mankind and spurred him on towards better conditions. The whole human race has benefited by each improvement which competition has brought about.
We have in mind a certain mail order house that up to 1894 had things its own way. Then it sold two to three million dollars worth of merchandise annually. A competitor came into the field, stirred things up, and now the old mail order house is doing eight to ten times as much business per annum as they did before they had the competition.
In the matter of competition we must early learn not to worry over competition, but to derive as much good from it as possible.
If a competitor does something better than you do, do not kick or protest, but jump into the band wagon and do the thing as well or better than he does it.
Price cutting is the simplest and most common phase of competition, but a better way to get advantage over your competitor is to improve your business by cutting off wastes and leaks, and reducing fixed and fancy charges so you can give your customers more quality and more quantity for the money.
In proportion as you increase the value you give for a dollar, just so you will find it easier to get the dollar.
Do not regard competition as hurtful to your business, but rather look upon it as a pace-maker for you.
If you had ten experts working for you studying how to improve your business you would certainly get benefit from it, but probably not enough benefit to offset the great cost of hiring these ten experts.
On the other hand, if you have ten competitors who are sitting up nights studying how to improve their businesses, you can get the benefit of their experience without it costing you anything.
The world is big and there is room for all, but old compensation says the prizes are given to the fittest.
If you are a laggard, if you are on the defensive instead of on the aggressive, get busy, wake up, do it now.
Good advertising is good publicity. Advertising is the thing that makes your trade increase.
Everything you do in connection with your business and every act of yours outside of your business is an advertisement.
Reputation is an advertisement, so is honesty, politeness, correspondence, methods, catalogues, circulars and salesmen. Neatness is an advertisement, and so is promptness, thoroughness. And then there is another kind of advertising which is your statement in the newspaper. This is the printed kind of advertising, and this kind of advertising is the most common, in fact, when we suggest that you should advertise, it immediately comes to your mind that advertising is space in the newspaper.
Keep in mind, however, when we speak of advertising we refer to everything in connection with your business that makes an impression upon the public or the prospective buyer.
Some of the old timers refrain from printed advertising in newspapers, saying that the best advertisement is merit. Merit is a good advertisement, but it is mighty slow in its action.
If the inventor of the typewriter planned and built the machine in his barn without letting anyone know about it, if he kept absolutely quiet about his doings, relying on the fact that the typewriter had merit, it would never be known to the public unless he told about it. If the inventor of the typewriter waited for merit alone as the vehicle for acquainting the world with the merits of the typewriter, the world would never know of it, unless, perhaps, a fire inspector or an health officer accidently stumbled across the machine while inspecting the premises.
If the inventor waited for intrinsic merit to sell his goods, he would find that months and years would elapse before he could develop his business into profitable proportions.
If you have a good thing you must tell about it. Telling makes selling. Telling is advertising.
Professional men hold up their hands in horror when you suggest advertising to them. They tell you they don't believe in advertising, that it is not ethical, that it is not dignified. Doctors and lawyers are most notable in this respect. One of the first things of their code of ethics is "Thou shalt not advertise." They mean paid newspaper advertising. The man who originated this idea evidently did not have the money to pay for any, and it was a case of sour grapes.
Let us look into this matter of ethics and see whether the doctor and the lawyer really believe what they say about this matter of advertising.
It is a rare spectacle to find a lawyer who will not gladly give an interview to a newspaper reporter during some important trial.
The doctor gladly avails himself of the opportunity to read a paper before a medical society, and he sees to it that this paper is published in a medical journal later on.
Professional men belong to clubs, take part in public affairs, speak before people, work on committees, and actively take part in anything that will bring them in the limelight of publicity. They do this advertising themselves, yet they say they do not believe in advertising.
Uncle Sam builds war ships, equips his soldiers splendidly, conducts his business affairs with high grade talent, all this that the United States may be well advertised among our sister nations.
Advertising is absolutely essential to successful business. Not printed advertising alone but all kinds of advertising. The quality, the price, your aggressiveness, everything in your business is an advertisement, either a good advertisement or a bad one. It behooves you to see the advertising you do, whatever kind it may be, is of the good kind.
If you expect to remain in business a long time your advertisements must be good. Keep in mind that methods are advertisements.
One bad move, which is a bad advertisement for you, calls for two or more good moves or good advertisements.
Have everything, every detail of your business carry a good advertisement, that is, have it help your business.
Have every employe pulling on the same center tugs and have them all face forward, and your vehicle will move forward.
The buyer derives much information and much shrewdness by carefully watching the seller's methods.
Some buyers seem to think that bull-dozing tactics, cute lies and irritable manners make the seller humble, weak-kneed and non-combative. This is a great mistake.
The best buyer is first a gentleman. He keeps his word, he is patient and he knows his business thoroughly.
The buyer gains much by being open and above board with the seller. Let the seller know that your success consists in getting as much value as you can for the money, and that your continuous trade will result only through fair treatment.
Let the seller understand that the better he treats you in the matter of price and quality the better you will be able to treat your customers, and the longer you will be able to deal with the seller.
The moment a buyer shows bull-dozing methods, the seller is antagonized, and his object then is to soak the buyer.
The buyer who keeps his temper and goes at the matter philosophically is the one who wins out.
The buyer should explain to the seller that the seller can get the best of him once and may be twice, but not more than that.
The main thing for the buyer to possess is a most thorough knowledge of the goods he buys. Learn who makes the goods and where they are made, and get at the factory cost.
Then learn whose factories have the best reputation, and whose are the best fitted and established to make the goods you buy.
Remember you can afford to investigate. When you find a factory over-sold you will find that factory more independent. When you find a factory short of orders you will find them eager for your trade, and the chances are you can do much better with this factory than with the one that is behind on its orders.
Don't get excited, don't hurry. Speak gently. Know your ground. Cultivate a reputation for fairness rather than smoothness. Laxity and indifference in buying means that you are allowing wastes and leaks to creep in your business, and that you are placing a handicap on your traveling salesman, for goods well bought are half sold.
If you get confidential with Mr. Bradstreet or Mr. Dun so that they will give you access to the inside history of the commercial concerns which have failed in business, you will quickly discover that in the majority of cases the cause of the failure was "too much expense."
It has become quite a common saying in speaking of failures that "the expenses ate up the profits."
Our friends Mr. Dun and Mr. Bradstreet tell us that there is about one concern in fifty which succeeds in business. If you will look at the successes you will find out that the proprietors were good buyers as well as good sellers but that the particular point that made them successful was their ability to make careful analysis in the matter of expenses.
The business man should have his expenses divided into as many classifications as possible. His payroll should be separated into various departments, office, salesmen, workmen, accounting, and so on; through all the items of expense the division should be made as finely as possible.
The proprietor should have a statement each week on his desk showing how every cent was expended. These items should be summarized monthly, and constant reference made to the items of expense in comparison with items of expense for the previous month, as well as items of expense for the same month of the previous year.
One of the pit-falls in nearly every business is "general expense" or "sundry expense." This department is a catchall for a lot of items, and it hides a lot of leaks and wastes in business.
You can't divide your expense items too minutely. The finer the divisions, the easier you can detect a waste of money.
The business man who has a statement of both receipts and expenses is in the position of the first engineer of an ocean steamer; he does not seem to be doing much and does not worry unless something goes wrong, then he shows his training and ability to mend breaks and repair weak places.
If the business man analyzes his sources of income into several divisions the same as he does his items of expense, he will find it an easy matter to correct errors that creep in the business. He does not have to worry about those items of expense which show minus, nor about those items of receipts which show plus.
With a finely divided sheet of both expenses and receipts you can quickly determine where the profit is coming from and where the leaks appear.
If an expense item shows plus, you can run down that item and see reasons for it and endeavor to bring down that expense. If a receipt item shows minus, you can run down that item and endeavor to increase the receipts.
The writer has a little printed card on his check book and it reads "Drive the axe into expenses." It is a constant reminder to stop the wastes.
The only real success that comes to the business man is the profits at the end of the year, that is, the amount of money he makes net.
It is easier to increase profits by cutting the expenses in many cases than it is to increase profits by increasing sales. And here let us remark that on this subject, as well as all the other subjects we are writing about in this series of articles, we have in mind the matter of common sense, temperate action. Extremes carry things too far. You must not cut the expenses beyond the point where it seriously interferes with the sales.
If you are interested in this matter of expense, and you certainly should be, take up your items of expense for last month or last year, go over the cost of help, the cost of raw material and the cost of manufacturing; go over each branch of your expenses, analyze the items carefully, look into every point thoroughly, and we will guarantee that at the end of your analysis you will see where you can save a respectable sum in the operation of your business. In going into this matter of expense, do not take all the items at once, but take each item up separately and go through it thoroughly.
Do not assume that you are paying too much for everything, but use good sense and good judgment and see that you get your money's worth. Take the item of wages. Look over the individuals in your employ, and you will see a place, for instance, where two persons can do the work three are now doing. Remember, it is generally true that where two persons are engaged in handling a certain department and they are overworked, the tendency is to give them additional help. When this is done you will find thenceforth all three are busy. In other words, each of the two persons who were formerly overworked ease up and do less work the moment the third person is given as assistant. You have noticed that where you put three employes to do the work formerly done by two, it is almost impossible—if you take the employe's word—to get two employes to do the work after three have been doing it.
The work should push the employe. The employer should get full capacity of his employes.
Look over your pay roll and make up your mind that here and there you are going to employes and ask them to help you save money, and at the same time you will let them earn more money for themselves. You will find that this plan works admirably.
For instance, if you have three employes getting $10.00 a week each; go to the two who do the most work and say to them: "If you can do the work of this department with one less employe I will give you each $3.00 a week more." In this way you will pay two employes $13.00 a week instead of three employes $10.00 a week each. This will save you $4.00 on that particular part of your payroll. If you save proportionately all through your payroll it will make a decided profit in itself.
Saving can also be made in the payroll by taking one of the heads of the department into your confidence and letting out the work to him by contract, offering to give him one-half, or one-third or one-quarter of the amount he can save in his department.
It is surprising to see how different his argument will be when his pocket is affected. For instance, in the past he explained to you that his department is behind in its work because he has not enough help.
He has been asking for more help right along, but never asked that some of the help be laid off.
If, on the other hand, you say to him you will give him one-third of what he can save in the matter of wages in his department, you will instantly notice that his whole argument and attitude change. He discovers that he has ability to pick out employes who do the most work, and lets out the four-flushers and idlers.
Remember, that as a rule the best paid employes are the cheapest. You can well afford to pay the heads of your departments more wages if they can save you more money.
A manufacturer should divide the number of completed articles done per day or per week by the amount of wages paid, and find out what the wage item is in each department per article.
Suppose that under your present system it costs you eighty cents in wages per article in Department A, sixty cents per article in Department B, etc. Explain to the foreman of Department A that it is now costing you eighty cents per article for wages in his department, and to the foreman of Department B that wages are costing you sixty cents per article in his department. Tell these employes you will give them one-third or one-half of whatever they can save in their departments. You will find Department A will cost you from seventy to seventy-five cents per article thereafter, and Department B from fifty to fifty-five cents per article, and in the meantime the foreman of the department is making more money for you, and likewise making more money for himself, than under the old system.
This matter of expense is most important, and should have the most serious attention of the proprietor.
One of the things most frequently asked for and yet one seldom made use of, is advice. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the man who comes to you for advice as a matter of fact really wants to have his own opinion confirmed.
Do not go around with a pocket full of advice offering it to everyone. If you advise a man to change his habits or manner of life he will resent your proffered aid. The best way to give advice is to take another fellow for example and hit your friend through the illustration of the other fellow. Let him discover the point himself rather than let it appear that you are telling him the thing.
The matter of advice is a very hard thing to properly understand. You advise another to do a certain thing, forgetting in the meanwhile, that if you were in his position your view-point would be his and not your own. You play your strong qualities against his weak ones.
It is easy enough for you to advise a drunkard not to drink, but difficult for you to understand his view point on the subject if you are not a drinking man yourself.
Giving advice usually comes about because we see a weakness in others. The opposite of this weakness is a feature in our own make-up.
The business man who is constantly asking advice is advertising the fact of his uncertainty of his own actions. Your great problems must be decided by yourself.
The one thing that separates the sheep from the goats, and success from failure, is the ability to analyze, study and weigh problems for yourself, and to make decisions for yourself.
The law of compensation comes in here again, for in proportion as you have self-reliance and good judgment your success will be measured.
You may rely upon it that if you go about seeking advice, you will get two kinds of advice—First: the advice that concurs with your own preference or decision; and, second, the kind that is in opposition to your views. You accept the first kind because it tickles your vanity, and you throw aside the second, saying the advice is prejudiced.
Don't ask advice. Size up and weigh the problem yourself and use your own best judgment.
The business man who goes along day by day without taking on any responsibilities or without tackling more difficult problems, finds he does not progress.
The man who gets into a rut and reads light, frothy literature all the time—the kind that is pleasing to the imagination, the kind that leaves no permanent impression—does not progress mentally.
Reading should be like eating, we should have the dessert as well as the substantials. It would be a great mistake to eat dessert alone, and it is certainly a mistake to read light, frothy reading matter alone.
One of the prime requisites to a successful career is concentration of thought. Few things will dissipate thought as much as over-reading of newspapers.
The newspaper starts in with the first page, and by the time you have finished the last column oh the last page you may have read a hundred articles, each one of these articles touching on a different line of thought. The daily newspaper contains climaxes of all kinds. Each article is a distinct change of thought. The daily newspaper gives us statistics, sorrow, laughter, crime, passion, death, lies, humor, and so on all through the gamut of the scale of human experience.
The man who craves the newspaper soon finds his line of thought frequently interrupted, side-stepped, drawn, cut off and dispersed.
Abundant evidences are at hand where the book reader acquired the daily newspaper habit and reads the daily to such an extent that it is impossible for him to read books thereafter. He has broken his continuity of thought, and when this happens book reading is impossible.
Everyone should read two or three or more books at a time. One should be an interesting book, whether history, story or comedy, so long as it is well written and along lines that will hold one's interest. One should read one book after another of this sort as a dessert for his dinner, as it were, but along with it he should eat substantial food in the nature of substantial reading.
Do not read yourself to sleep at night over a light novel. Read your novel for an hour or so; then take up your old philosopher or scientist and read a page, or as much as necessary to find some thought clearly expressed so that it will be burned into your mind. That thought will remain and will be of service to you in years to come.
Read daily newspapers scantily. Read items concerning the business you are engaged in. Read the doings of Congress and the important events of the day. Go over the head-lines, if need be, and eliminate all those shocking stories of crime and sordid influence. Do not let yourself get into the habit of reading the details of horrible crimes and bad impulses and criminal acts. Skip over all the details of hangings and murders. They are weeds in the mind that choke up the beautiful flowers of thought.
Remember, everything you read depresses or elevates, and in proportion as you accustom yourself to read substantial matter so in proportion you will progress in this world, and have a flood of thoughts at your command when requirements come upon you calling for clean-cut expressions.
You will write better letters, you will converse better, you will enjoy social intercourse better if you read helpful reading matter from books and read newspapers very sparingly.
Not once in a thousand times will one man convince another in an argument, and the benefits you get if you do convince the other fellow will not compensate you for the waste of energy expended on the other nine hundred and ninety-nine times when your efforts failed.
You convince a man against his will and he is of the same opinion still.
There is a mighty lot of difference between argument and reason. You may accomplish more by dividing your case into one or two good reasons and telling your adversary that you will not argue the case, but you will let him look at these reasons, and when he takes it up logically you will have no fear of his conclusion, for truth must triumph.
While argument itself is a footless proposition, it is infinitely more so if your argument is with those of less mental calibre than your own, for by the law of compensation, in proportion as a man is ignorant, he makes up in perversity and lack of analytical ability.
Do not stoop to contend with those who have no standing, mentally, morally or physically. It is a waste of time.
If it is your purpose to change a man's opinion, do not try to do it by argument. Study the ground carefully. State your points with preciseness, make careful analysis of every phase of the situation, take up the matter point by point. Start with your adversary by getting on ground on which you both will agree. Take up the points on which there can be little chance for differences of opinion. You will find the other man will get in the habit of agreeing with your propositions and that his antagonism weakens. State facts that are right and truthful, and are so plain that the truth will be self-evident.
After you have made several propositions on which the other man agrees with you wholly, then make a proposition that is ninety per cent. his way and ten per cent. your way. Gradually increase that ten per cent. until you swing him around so that he sees the truth. He then imagines that he has made the deduction himself.
Remember, you can swing the biggest ship around by a steady, slow, gentle pull. On the other hand a sudden strain on the hawser would produce no effect whatever on the ship.
The man who wishes to convert another to his way of thinking must be a diplomat if he is successful. Do not get excited, keep cool and collected, be sure of your ground, be positive in your assertions, make the whole matter clear, and use good judgment, sound reason and clear logic.
You are playing against odds when you speculate.
The only man who has a sure thing on the Board of Trade or Stock Exchange or the race track is the man with the "Wienerwurst" privilege.
The successful business man some day wakes up to the fact that his bills are paid, and that he has surplus money. This surplus money should be used for investment purposes and not for speculation. Of course, it is hard to draw the line where investment leaves off and speculation begins.
When you speculate on margins you are like the fellow holding on a bear's tail as it runs around a tree—if you lose your hold the bear will get you.
The man who makes an investment, buying stocks or real estate and paying cash for them does not have to worry about the market. Prices may be up or down, but the man who has paid for what he has bought will sleep well.
You can't beat the speculation game. The only ones who make a success, and their success is ephemeral, are those who make speculation their whole occupation. The professional speculator is merely a high grade gambler, and he always winds up a loser.
Go to the Stock Exchange or the Board of Trade and you will see at either place a half a dozen old fellows hanging around. They are all men who have seen better days. A little inquiry and diplomacy on your part will bring forth the fact that these men were once prominent figures on 'Change.
When you have more money than you need in your business buy good farm lands out west, or good timber lands. No man ever bought good farm land or good timber land at the prevailing market price and lost money eventually. Of course, at different seasons of the year the price of land may go down a little temporarily, but the moment a good crop comes in, the price goes up again.
With good clear farm land you can always go to the nearest bank and borrow from sixty to seventy-five per cent. of its value.
Real estate is the true basis of wealth, and if you want to play a sure game, buy land that produces things.
When you buy vacant property in a large city, it is mere speculation. The land does not bring in any remuneration, and you are simply betting that the prices will increase.
Every large city has abundant instances of vacant property that is not worth as much now as it was ten or twenty years ago. Real estate booms come in cycles. Prices go up and men get the fever and buy vacant property. The boom explodes, property goes down and you can't get your money back. The chances are you have bought the property on two or three years' time, and it certainly is paying for a white elephant when you are paying for land that is worth less than what it cost you. You cannot get out, however, because the original payment has already been made, and your only hope is to save something on your investment.
Notwithstanding the fact that certain business sections and certain residence sections in any city steadily increase in price, yet the average real estate in the city increases by very slow percentage. The same amount of money, put out in mortgages, with the interest added and compounded, will develop wealth greater than the average vacant property investment, for where one lot soars up to a high price there are a hundred that don't increase at all, and the picking out of the lot that is going to increase in value is as hard as picking out the horse that is going to win the race. It is because the vacant city property has only speculative value that the business man should not touch it.
Buy farm property that you can rent. It will bring you interest on your money right along, and the tendency of farm land is and always has been steadily forward.
Mr. Yerkes, of Chicago, was a speculator who made millions in the street-car system. He was thoroughly familiar with Hydraulics, and he soaked the stocks as full of water as possible and then unloaded on the investors who speculated in street-car stocks. These speculators are now holding the bag. When Mr. Yerkes closed out his holdings in Chicago he granted an interview, and one truth he uttered in that interview has ever been remembered by the writer. It is so valuable an expression coming from such a successful speculator that we are going to give it to you. It is as follows: "I have never known a business man to successfully speculate in grains or stocks for two years."
The business man who is watching the ticker or calling up the Stock Exchange every day, who takes little flyers, is skating on mighty thin ice.
When you buy farms you are exchanging your money for the most certain thing in the world, for the basis of all wealth is land, and money simply represents the things which come out of the land. The things that grow on the land are exchanged for gold, and the gold is exchanged for things that come out of the land. The Government exchanges the gold for pieces of paper called money, which in reality means that you can exchange these pieces of paper for gold, and you can exchange the gold for the things that come out of and grow upon the land.
The stock broker may not like this chapter because the more speculation the more he benefits. He gets a rake-off every time a man buys and every time a man sells. He plays a sure thing. He is like the man with the Wienerwurst privilege.
Don't Speculate. Invest.
One of the greatest brain savers is elimination. Every man should try to operate along lines of the least resistance, eliminate the deterrent influences and all things that fret him.
Do not look for trouble. Do not concern yourself too much over disagreeable things over which you have no control.
Do not build up an intricate system in your business. Have simplicity your ideal. Eliminate all useless moves. If you have disturbing influences in your institution, such as an employe who is continually causing friction, eliminate that employe. The man who causes friction is pulling back on the forward impulses of your business, and he is holding back one or more men who are trying to help you forward.
Get rid of useless things that take your time or cause you worry.
Remember that as you grow successful people will come to you under various excuses to get your aid financially or morally. They want you to go into new companies. The officers of the Club to which you belong will ask you to be a director. You will be invited to dinners, asked to speak, asked to do a thousand and one things, and in proportion as you accede to these demands you will find the demands increasing until finally you have little time to attend to your own affairs or to attend to your family.
Have as your center idea—elimination. Everything that takes your time from your business or your family is an extra tax on your strength.
Eliminate every habit that holds you back, every practice that unfits you for progress, every person who depresses you, every move that is not necessary, every footless idea that crowds your brain.
When this nation of ours was born nearly every one was a generalist.
The merchant sold a general line of merchandise. The doctor was also a farmer and a horse trader. In those days there were very few specialists.
As time passed some of the wiser individuals turned specialist and succeeded.
The doctor who is a generalist cannot excel in any one branch of medicine, or compete with the specialist who devotes all his time and study and practice towards one point and towards the treatment of a specific ailment. The merchant who sells everything cannot compete with the man who makes it his business to sell one class of goods. This is an age of specialists, and what we considered a specialist twenty-five years ago is only a generalist from the present standpoint. The specialist of twenty-five years ago has been divided again and again. The best doctor today is one who doctors the eye alone, the stomach alone, or the nerves alone. He can do more for you and knows more of your case in five minutes' observation than the generalist would in three months.
With the keen competition of these days it is necessary for the individual to be a specialist in business.
Pleasure and recreation are the only things in which an individual should be a generalist.
Were it not for specialists we should know little about the sun, little of electricity, little of steam, little of railroads, little of advertising, little of anything else. It is because individuals have made a speciality of one thing, because they have concentrated their energies and their brain power on one thing that the world has progressed.
Recreation is for relaxation, and the business man should see to it that he gets the full benefit of recreation. If he carries specialism into recreation, recreation is spoiled, for the moment a man is a specialist in recreation he strives to excel, and this striving to excel is hard work, and that is the same thing he is doing in business.
The business man who plays billiards and no other game doubtless will play a better game than the generalist who indulges in all sorts of games and recreations, but the man who makes a specialty of billiards finds his powers centered on this game of billiards. He puts his thought on it and wishes to excel, he wishes to make a record, and billiards then become business.
This striving to excel in a game brings forth the same gambling instinct manifested in business. It is his "I will." The business man who plays a good game of billiards some day meets his superior, and the superior is the individual who does nothing but play billiards.
If a man tries to be a specialist in billiards and a specialist in business, even though both callings commence with "B," he will find that a division of effort is a division of results, and he will not be a success in either business or billiards. In proportion as he excels in billiards he will be lacking in business, and vice versa.
We remember the story of a young friend of Herbert Spencer who joined the great philosopher in a game of billiards. The young man played a most excellent game. When they had finished Spencer remarked: "Young man, your education has been greatly neglected, you play billiards too well."
Be a specialist in business and a generalist in pleasure. Play billiards, swim, ride, play golf and indulge in all athletic sports and so long as you get uniform pleasure and recreation from these things you are doing right, you are helping your mind and developing your body and letting your brain rest, so that it may be keen and a greater help in your specialty, which is business.
The world needs specialists, and it needs specialists in recreation as well as business, but the man who tries to be a specialist in business as well as a specialist in recreation will fail in both, or, at least, his success will be only moderate.
It is necessary for life's scheme that we have individuals who have steady incomes so that they do not require to enter the strenuous business life. It is necessary to have such individuals, so that they may devote themselves to being specialists in recreation, otherwise the sports would die out.
If you go in for sport do not expect you can compete with anybody who goes in for sport exclusively. You can't win in two callings or occupations.
There is a string to every proposition, and it behooves you to look out for the string before acceding to the requests that are made of you.
When a stranger comes and offers to do things for you, to let you in on the ground floor, or assures you that he is working for your interest, you may be sure there is a string to his proposition, and the string is that, as a matter of fact, it is himself instead of you he is looking out for.