When you hear the name Andrew Carnegie, what are the first words that appear in your mind?
Perhaps industrialist, entrepreneur, or philanthropist?
Migrated to the United States from Scotland in the mid-19th century, Andrew Carnegie first started his working career in a factory–like most poor immigrants at that time. To provide more for his family, Carnegie became an avid learner and strove to educate himself using whatever resources available. Eventually he acquired a job as a telegraph messenger boy and quickly progressed through the company.
His networking skills began their steady growth with this job; soon he became familiar with Pittsburgh’s most important figures. Through this he met Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, who decided to hire him as a secretary. Again he quickly advanced through the company and Scott taught him about the railroad business while helping him make his first investments (although not without ulterior motives). Carnegie’s investments slowly grew and he eventually opened his own steel rail company while continuing to diversify his other investments in a variety of businesses.
Connections with other well-known figures were vital, and so Carnegie built up a wide network of contacts to rely on. Not content with just owning a steel empire, Carnegie also wrote a variety of literary articles and stated his strong views on philanthropy. His donations to philanthropic purposes ranged widely; however, there was a heavy emphasis on the building of public libraries and other structures for colleges in both the United States and Scotland. When all was said and done, he had given away more than $350 million (in 2005 this would have been around $4.3 billion). Carnegie believed that one should try to learn as much as possible, make as much money as possible, and then give that money away to good causes: for him people who held on to their money was an act to be considered abominable. There is no doubt that his ability to connect with people and foster meaningful relationships was a major factor in his advancement in the many industries he pursued.