War heroes, long after they pass on, live on in the movies. The life and exploits of sports heroes are retold in books. Sixty years after his death, we still know Babe Ruth.
Stars of the business world may be less well-remembered, but their daring feats qualify them as heroes just the same. Dead CEOs still have a lot to teach. In New Ideas From Dead CEOs, author Todd G. Buchholtz dramatically brings their business stories back to us.
Take A.P. Giannini, founder of Bank of America. He cared so much for his customers that he reopened his bank four days after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It was a Sunday. Giannini went down to the wharf, put a plank across two wooden barrels and declared himself open for business.
Some of Buchholz’s heroes started their empires from scratch. Walt Disney first supported himself by taking baby pictures. His career got a boost when he received $500 for a film on dental hygiene.
Sam Walton wasn’t shy about scoping out the competition. At one point, he sneaked around competitor’s stores and looked under the display racks to check inventory. Walton was a proud skinflint. He was so tight with a dollar that he once shared a hotel room with eight staffers. Those were the early days. By the time he became a retailing legend, he only shared his room with one staff member.
Book reviewer Paul Carroll says the author recounts fascinating stories of early beginnings of mega businessmen, showing how his subjects transformed business.
In addition to the dramas of Wal-Mart and Disney, Buchholz tells the adventures of Tom Watson Sr. and Tom Watson Jr. of IBM, Mary Kay Ash and Estee Lauder, David Sarnoff of RCA, Ray Kroc of McDonald’s, and Akio Morita, founder of Sony.
New Ideas From Dead CEOs by Todd G. Buchholz, Collins, 300 pages, $26.95.