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Thomas_Edison

I don’t consider myself a workaholic, but if you know me you know I like work. According to Wikipedia there is no generally accepted medical definition of being a workaholic, although some forms of stress, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be observed in such persons. I don’t have stress in my life, nor am I obsessive about work,  and I try to live a balanced life having my family in the very center of my being and my attention, but I am of that rare group that wakes up in the mornign eager to go to work, to see my workmates, to chat and learn from my customers and suppliers. In fact, whereas many of my workmates take their birthdays off from work, my perfect birthday would be to wake up around my family, have lunch with my workmates and diner with friends. And in my idle time I prefer thinking and dreamin of new business ideas than watching TV.

That is why it’s no surprise that the vast mayority of people who are members of my “Hall of Honor” are, or were, hard workers and highly productive people. Thomas Alva Edison was such a person, and therefore an important member of my “Hall of Honor”. It could be debatable if his eagerness to work was borderlining with obsession, but it is his teaching about how hard work is the solution to many problems and the only way to success that I want to keep and share. I have read many articles about Edison, but I have to admit I have never read an official biography about this great man, and that shall be my next project. In the meantime, I will publish a quote from Edison that relates to hard work the first Moday of every month for the rest of the year.

I hope you like the quotes, and that they inspire you to look for sucess through work and productivity.

Here’s Wikipedia’s article about Edison. I you would like to read it from Wikipedia’s site click here.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”,[1] he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.[2]

Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.

His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution[3] to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.[3]

Early life

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804–96, born in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, Canada) and Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810–1871, born in Chenango County, New York).[4] His father had to escape from Canada because he took part in the unsuccessful Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837 [5] Edison reported being of Dutch ancestry.[6]

In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him “addled”. This ended Edison’s three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” His mother taught him at home.[7] Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy.

Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle-ear infections. Around the middle of his career, Edison attributed the hearing impairment to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Michigan, along with his apparatus and chemicals. In his later years, he modified the story to say the injury occurred when the conductor, in helping him onto a moving train, lifted him by the ears.[8][9]

Edison’s family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, after the railroad bypassed Milan in 1854 and business declined;[10] his life there was bittersweet. Edison sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, and sold vegetables to supplement his income. He also studied qualitative analysis, and conducted chemical experiments on the train until an accident prohibited further work of the kind.[11]

Edison obtained the exclusive right to sell newspapers on the road, and, with the aid of four assistants, he set in type and printed the Grand Trunk Herald, which he sold with his other papers.[11] This began Edison’s long streak of entrepreneurial ventures, as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.[12][13]

Telegrapher

Edison became a telegraph operator after he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a runaway train. Jimmie’s father, station agent J.U. MacKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Edison’s first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction, Ontario, on the Grand Trunk Railway.[14]

In 1866, at the age of 19, Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where, as an employee of Western Union, he worked the Associated Press bureau news wire. Edison requested the night shift, which allowed him plenty of time to spend at his two favorite pastimes—reading and experimenting. Eventually, the latter pre-occupation cost him his job. One night in 1867, he was working with a lead–acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto his boss’s desk below. The next morning Edison was fired.[15]

One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher and inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey home. Some of Edison’s earliest inventions were related to telegraphy, including a stock ticker. His first patent was for the electric vote recorder, (U.S. Patent 90,646),[16] which was granted on June 1, 1869.[17]

Marriages and children

On December 25, 1871, Edison married 16-year-old Mary Stilwell (1855–1884), whom he had met two months earlier; she was an employee at one of his shops. They had three children:

  • Marion Estelle Edison (1873–1965), nicknamed “Dot”[18]
  • Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. (1876–1935), nicknamed “Dash”[19]
  • William Leslie Edison (1878–1937) Inventor, graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, 1900.[20]

Mary Edison died at age 29 on August 9, 1884, of unknown causes: possibly from a brain tumor[21] or a morphine overdose. Doctors frequently prescribed morphine to women in those years to treat a variety of causes, and researchers believe that some of her symptoms sounded as if they were associated with morphine poisoning.[22]

On February 24, 1886, at the age of thirty-nine, Edison married the 20-year-old Mina Miller (1866–1947) in Akron, Ohio.[23] She was the daughter of the inventor Lewis Miller, co-founder of the Chautauqua Institution and a benefactor of Methodist charities. They also had three children together:

  • Madeleine Edison (1888–1979), who married John Eyre Sloane.[24][25]
  • Charles Edison (1890–1969), Governor of New Jersey (1941 – 1944), and took over his father’s company and experimental laboratories upon his father’s death.[26]
  • Theodore Edison (1898–1992), (MIT Physics 1923), credited with more than 80 patents.

Mina outlived Thomas Edison, dying on August 24, 1947.[27][28]

Beginning his career

Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey, with the automatic repeater and his other improved telegraphic devices, but the invention that first gained him notice was the phonograph in 1877.[29] This accomplishment was so unexpected by the public at large as to appear almost magical. Edison became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” New Jersey.[1]

His first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder, but had poor sound quality and the recordings could be played only a few times. In the 1880s, a redesigned model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders was produced by Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Charles Tainter. This was one reason that Thomas Edison continued work on his own “Perfected Phonograph.”

Menlo Park

Edison’s major innovation was the first industrial research lab, which was built in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was built with the funds from the sale of Edison’s quadruplex telegraph. After his demonstration of the telegraph, Edison was not sure that his original plan to sell it for $4,000 to $5,000 was right, so he asked Western Union to make a bid. He was surprised to hear them offer $10,000, ($202,000 USD 2010), which he gratefully accepted.[30]

The quadruplex telegraph was Edison’s first big financial success, and Menlo Park became the first institution set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement. Edison was legally attributed with most of the inventions produced there, though many employees carried out research and development under his direction. His staff was generally told to carry out his directions in conducting research, and he drove them hard to produce results.

William Joseph Hammer, a consulting electrical engineer, began his duties as a laboratory assistant to Edison in December 1879. He assisted in experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, iron ore separator, electric lighting, and other developing inventions. However, Hammer worked primarily on the incandescent electric lamp and was put in charge of tests and records on that device. In 1880, he was appointed chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. In his first year, the plant under General Manager Francis Robbins Upton turned out 50,000 lamps. According to Edison, Hammer was “a pioneer of incandescent electric lighting”.[31] Frank J. Sprague, a competent mathematician and former naval officer, was recruited by Edward H. Johnson and joined the Edison organization in 1883. One of Sprague’s contributions to the Edison Laboratory at Menlo Park was to expand Edison’s mathematical methods. Despite the common belief that Edison did not use mathematics, analysis of his notebooks reveal that he was an astute user of mathematical analysis conducted by his assistants such as Francis Robbins Upton, for example, determining the critical parameters of his electric lighting system including lamp resistance by an analysis of Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law and economics.[32]

Nearly all of Edison’s patents were utility patents, which were protected for a 17-year period and included inventions or processes that are electrical, mechanical, or chemical in nature. About a dozen were design patents, which protect an ornamental design for up to a 14-year period. As in most patents, the inventions he described were improvements over prior art. The phonograph patent, in contrast, was unprecedented as describing the first device to record and reproduce sounds.[33]

In just over a decade, Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory had expanded to occupy two city blocks. Edison said he wanted the lab to have “a stock of almost every conceivable material”.[34] A newspaper article printed in 1887 reveals the seriousness of his claim, stating the lab contained “eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels … silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark’s teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell … cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock’s tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores …” and the list goes on.[35]

Over his desk, Edison displayed a placard with Sir Joshua Reynolds’ famous quotation: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.[36] This slogan was reputedly posted at several other locations throughout the facility.

With Menlo Park, Edison had created the first industrial laboratory concerned with creating knowledge and then controlling its application.[37]

Carbon telephone transmitter

In 1877–78, Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, in 1892 a federal court ruled that Edison and not Emile Berliner was the inventor of the carbon microphone. The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.

Electric light

Main article: History of the light bulb

Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light.[38] Many earlier inventors had previously devised incandescent lamps, including Alessandro Volta’s demonstration of a glowing wire in 1800 and inventions by Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans. Others who developed early and commercially impractical incandescent electric lamps included Humphry Davy, James Bowman Lindsay, Moses G. Farmer,[39] William E. Sawyer, Joseph Swan and Heinrich Göbel. Some of these early bulbs had such flaws as an extremely short life, high expense to produce, and high electric current drawn, making them difficult to apply on a large scale commercially.[40]

After many experiments with platinum and other metal filaments, Edison returned to a carbon filament.[inconsistent] The first successful test was on October 22, 1879;[41] it lasted 13.5 hours.[42] Edison continued to improve this design and by November 4, 1879, filed for U.S. patent 223,898 (granted on January 27, 1880) for an electric lamp using “a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires”.[43]

Although the patent described several ways of creating the carbon filament including “cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways”,[43] it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered a carbonized bamboo filament that could last over 1,200 hours. The idea of using this particular raw material originated from Edison’s recalling his examination of a few threads from a bamboo fishing pole while relaxing on the shore of Battle Lake in the present-day state of Wyoming, where he and other members of a scientific team had traveled so that they could clearly observe a total eclipse of the sun on July 29, 1878, from the Continental Divide.[44]

U.S. Patent#223898: Electric-Lamp. Issued January 27, 1880.

In 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with several financiers, including J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family. Edison made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on December 31, 1879, in Menlo Park. It was during this time that he said: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”[45]

Lewis Latimer joined the Edison Electric Light Company in 1884. Latimer had received a patent in January 1881 for the “Process of Manufacturing Carbons”, an improved method for the production of carbon filaments for lightbulbs. Latimer worked as an engineer, a draftsman and an expert witness in patent litigation on electric lights.[46]

George Westinghouse’s company bought Philip Diehl’s competing induction lamp patent rights (1882) for $25,000, forcing the holders of the Edison patent to charge a more reasonable rate for the use of the Edison patent rights and lowering the price of the electric lamp.[47]

On October 8, 1883, the US patent office ruled that Edison’s patent was based on the work of William Sawyer and was therefore invalid. Litigation continued for nearly six years, until October 6, 1889, when a judge ruled that Edison’s electric-light improvement claim for “a filament of carbon of high resistance” was valid.[48] To avoid a possible court battle with Joseph Swan, whose British patent had been awarded a year before Edison’s, he and Swan formed a joint company called Ediswan to manufacture and market the invention in Britain.

Mahen Theatre in Brno (in what is now the Czech Republic) was the first public building in the world to use Edison’s electric lamps, with the installation supervised by Edison’s assistant in the invention of the lamp, Francis Jehl.[49] In September 2010, a sculpture of three giant light bulbs was erected in Brno, in front of the theatre.[50]

Electric power distribution

War of currents

Main article: War of Currents

Extravagant displays of electric lights quickly became a feature of public events, as in this picture from the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

Edison’s true success, like that of his friend Henry Ford, was in his ability to maximize profits through establishment of mass-production systems and intellectual property rights. George Westinghouse and Edison became adversaries because of Edison’s promotion of direct current (DC) for electric power distribution instead of the more easily transmitted alternating current (AC) system promoted by Westinghouse. Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformers, sent over thinner and cheaper wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users.

In 1887, there were 121 Edison power stations in the United States delivering DC electricity to customers. When the limitations of DC were discussed by the public, Edison launched a propaganda campaign to convince people that AC was far too dangerous to use. The problem with DC was that the power plants could economically deliver DC electricity only to customers within about one and a half miles (about 2.4 km) from the generating station, so that it was suitable only for central business districts. When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Edison waged a “War of Currents” to prevent AC from being adopted.

The war against AC led him to become involved in the development and promotion of the electric chair (using AC) as an attempt to portray AC to have greater lethal potential than DC. Edison went on to carry out a brief but intense campaign to ban the use of AC or to limit the allowable voltage for safety purposes. As part of this campaign, Edison’s employees publicly electrocuted stray or unwanted animals to demonstrate the dangers of AC;[54][55] alternating electric currents are slightly more dangerous in that frequencies near 60 Hz have a markedly greater potential for inducing fatal “cardiac fibrillation” than do direct currents.[56] On one of the more notable occasions, in 1903, Edison’s workers electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death.[57] His company filmed the electrocution.

AC replaced DC in most instances of generation and power distribution, enormously extending the range and improving the efficiency of power distribution. Though widespread use of DC ultimately lost favor for distribution, it exists today primarily in long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems. Low-voltage DC distribution continued to be used in high-density downtown areas for many years but was eventually replaced by AC low-voltage network distribution in many of them.[58]

DC had the advantage that large battery banks could maintain continuous power through brief interruptions of the electric supply from generators and the transmission system. Utilities such as Commonwealth Edison in Chicago had rotary converters or motor-generator sets, which could change DC to AC and AC to various frequencies in the early to mid-20th century. Utilities supplied rectifiers to convert the low voltage AC to DC for such DC loads as elevators, fans and pumps. There were still 1,600 DC customers in downtown New York City as of 2005, and service was finally discontinued only on November 14, 2007.[58] Most subway systems are still powered by direct current.

Other inventions and projects

Fluoroscopy

Edison is credited with designing and producing the first commercially available fluoroscope, a machine that uses X-rays to take radiographs. Until Edison discovered that calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platinocyanide screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was capable of producing only very faint images.

The fundamental design of Edison’s fluoroscope is still in use today, although Edison himself abandoned the project after nearly losing his own eyesight and seriously injuring his assistant, Clarence Dally. Dally had made himself an enthusiastic human guinea pig for the fluoroscopy project and in the process been exposed to a poisonous dose of radiation. He later died of injuries related to the exposure. In 1903, a shaken Edison said “Don’t talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them.”[59]

Media inventions

The key to Edison’s fortunes was telegraphy. With knowledge gained from years of working as a telegraph operator, he learned the basics of electricity. This allowed him to make his early fortune with the stock ticker, the first electricity-based broadcast system. Edison patented the sound recording and reproducing phonograph in 1878. Edison was also granted a patent for the motion picture camera or “Kinetograph”. He did the electromechanical design, while his employee W.K.L. Dickson, a photographer, worked on the photographic and optical development. Much of the credit for the invention belongs to Dickson.[41] In 1891, Thomas Edison built a Kinetoscope, or peep-hole viewer. This device was installed in penny arcades, where people could watch short, simple films. The kinetograph and kinetoscope were both first publicly exhibited May 20, 1891.[60]

On August 9, 1892, Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph. In April 1896, Thomas Armat’s Vitascope, manufactured by the Edison factory and marketed in Edison’s name, was used to project motion pictures in public screenings in New York City. Later he exhibited motion pictures with voice soundtrack on cylinder recordings, mechanically synchronized with the film.

Officially the kinetoscope entered Europe when the rich American Businessman Irving T. Bush (1869–1948) bought from the Continental Commerce Company of Frank Z. Maguire and Joseph D. Baucus a dozen machines. Bush placed from October 17, 1894, the first kinetoscopes in London. At the same time the French company Kinétoscope Edison Michel et Alexis Werner bought these machines for the market in France. In the last three months of 1894, The Continental Commerce Company sold hundreds of kinetoscopes in Europe (i.e. the Netherlands and Italy). In Germany and in Austria-Hungary the kinetoscope was introduced by the Deutsche-österreichische-Edison-Kinetoscop Gesellschaft, founded by the Ludwig Stollwerck[62] of the Schokoladen-Süsswarenfabrik Stollwerck & Co of Cologne.

The first kinetoscopes arrived in Belgium at the Fairs in early 1895. The Edison’s Kinétoscope Français, a Belgian company, was founded in Brussels on January 15, 1895, with the rights to sell the kinetoscopes in Monaco, France and the French colonies. The main investors in this company were Belgian industrialists.[63]

On May 14, 1895, the Edison’s Kinétoscope Belge was founded in Brussels. The businessman Ladislas-Victor Lewitzki, living in London but active in Belgium and France, took the initiative in starting this business. He had contacts with Leon Gaumont and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In 1898 he also became a shareholder of the Biograph and Mutoscope Company for France.[63]

In 1901, he visited the Sudbury area in Ontario, Canada, as a mining prospector, and is credited with the original discovery of the Falconbridge ore body. His attempts to mine the ore body were not successful, however, and he abandoned his mining claim in 1903.[64] A street in Falconbridge, as well as the Edison Building, which served as the head office of Falconbridge Mines, are named for him.

Other exhibitors similarly routinely copied and exhibited each other’s films.[65] To better protect the copyrights on his films, Edison deposited prints of them on long strips of photographic paper with the U.S. copyright office. Many of these paper prints survived longer and in better condition than the actual films of that era.[66]

Edison’s favorite movie was The Birth of a Nation. He thought that talkies had “spoiled everything” for him. “There isn’t any good acting on the screen. They concentrate on the voice now and have forgotten how to act. I can sense it more than you because I am deaf.”[67] His favorite stars were Mary Pickford and Clara Bow.[68]

In 1908, Edison started the Motion Picture Patents Company, which was a conglomerate of nine major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust). Thomas Edison was the first honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, which was founded in 1929.

West Orange and Fort Myers (1886–1931)

Thomas A. Edison Industries Exhibit, Primary Battery section, 1915

Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone, respectively. Ft. Myers, Florida, February 11, 1929

Edison moved from Menlo Park after the death of Mary Stilwell and purchased a home known as “Glenmont” in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1885, Thomas Edison bought property in Fort Myers, Florida, and built what was later called Seminole Lodge as a winter retreat. Edison and his wife Mina spent many winters in Fort Myers where they recreated and Edison tried to find a domestic source of natural rubber.

Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, later lived a few hundred feet away from Edison at his winter retreat in Fort Myers, Florida. Edison even contributed technology to the automobile. They were friends until Edison’s death.

In 1928, Edison joined the Fort Myers Civitan Club. He believed strongly in the organization, writing that “The Civitan Club is doing things—big things—for the community, state, and nation, and I certainly consider it an honor to be numbered in its ranks.”[69] He was an active member in the club until his death, sometimes bringing Henry Ford to the club’s meetings.

Final years and death

Edison was active in business right up to the end. Just months before his death, the Lackawanna Railroad inaugurated suburban electric train service from Hoboken to Montclair, Dover, and Gladstone in New Jersey. Electrical transmission for this service was by means of an overhead catenary system using direct current, which Edison had championed. Despite his frail condition, Edison was at the throttle of the first electric MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken in September 1930, driving the train the first mile through Hoboken yard on its way to South Orange.[70]

This fleet of cars would serve commuters in northern New Jersey for the next 54 years until their retirement in 1984. A plaque commemorating Edison’s inaugural ride can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, which is presently operated by New Jersey Transit.[70]

Edison was said to have been influenced by a popular fad diet in his last few years; “the only liquid he consumed was a pint of milk every three hours”.[41] He is reported to have believed this diet would restore his health. However, this tale is doubtful. In 1930, the year before Edison died, Mina said in an interview about him, “correct eating is one of his greatest hobbies.” She also said that during one of his periodic “great scientific adventures”, Edison would be up at 7:00, have breakfast at 8:00, and be rarely home for lunch or dinner, implying that he continued to have all three.[67]

Edison became the owner of his Milan, Ohio, birthplace in 1906. On his last visit, in 1923, he was reportedly shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles.

Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina. He is buried behind the home.[71][72]

Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento. A plaster death mask was also made.[73]

Mina died in 1947.

Views on politics, religion and metaphysics

Historian Paul Israel has characterized Edison as a “freethinker”.[41] Edison was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason.[41] Edison defended Paine’s “scientific deism”, saying, “He has been called an atheist, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity.”[41] In an October 2, 1910, interview in the New York Times Magazine, Edison stated:

Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me — the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love — He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us — nature did it all — not the gods of the religions.[74]

Edison was called an atheist for those remarks, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into the controversy publicly, he clarified himself in a private letter: “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made.”[41]

Nonviolence was key to Edison’s moral views, and when asked to serve as a naval consultant for World War I, he specified he would work only on defensive weapons and later noted, “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.” Edison’s philosophy of nonviolence extended to animals as well, about which he stated: “Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”[75] However, he is also notorious for having electrocuted a number of dogs in 1888, both by direct and alternating current, in an attempt to argue that the former (which he had a vested business interest in promoting) was safer than the latter (favored by his rival George Westinghouse).[76]

Edison’s success in promoting direct current as less lethal also led to alternating current being used in the electric chair adopted by New York in 1889 as a supposedly humane execution method. Because Westinghouse was angered by the decision, he funded Eighth Amendment-based appeals for inmates set to die in the electric chair, ultimately resulting in Edison providing the generators which powered early electrocutions and testifying successfully on behalf of the state that electrocution was a painless method of execution.[77]

Views on money

Thomas Edison was an advocate for monetary reform in the United States. He was ardently opposed to the gold standard, and debt based money. Famously, he was quoted in the New York Times stating “Gold is a relic of Julius Caesar, and interest is an invention of Satan.”[78]

In the same article, he expounded upon the absurdity of a monetary system in which the taxpayer of the United States, in need of a loan, be compelled to pay in return perhaps double the principal, or even greater sums, due to interest. His basic point was that if the Government can produce debt based money, it could equally as well produce money that was a credit to the taxpayer.[78]

He thought at length about the subject of money over 1921 and 1922. In May 1922, he published a proposal, entitled “A Proposed Amendment to the Federal Reserve Banking System”.[79] In it, he detailed an explanation of a commodity backed currency, in which the Federal Reserve would issue interest-free currency to farmers, based on the value of commodities they produced. During a publicity tour that he took with friend and fellow inventor, Henry Ford, he spoke publicly about his desire for monetary reform. For insight, he corresponded with prominent academic and banking professionals. In the end, however, Edison’s proposals failed to find support, and were eventually abandoned.[80][81]

Awards

The President of the Third French Republic, Jules Grévy, on the recommendation of his Minister of Foreign Affairs Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire and with the presentations of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs Louis Cochery, designated Edison with the distinction of an ‘Officer of the Legion of Honour’ (Légion d’honneur) by decree on November 10, 1881;[82] He also named a Chevalier in 1879, and a Commander in 1889.[83]

In 1887, Edison won the Matteucci Medal. In 1890, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Philadelphia City Council named Edison the recipient of the John Scott Medal in 1889.[83]

In 1899, Edison was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal of The Franklin Institute.[84]

He was named an Honorable Consulting Engineer at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s fair in 1904.[83]

In 1908, Edison received the American Association of Engineering Societies John Fritz Medal.[83]

In 1915, Edison was awarded Franklin Medal of The Franklin Institute for discoveries contributing to the foundation of industries and the well-being of the human race.[85]

In 1920, The United States Navy department awarded him the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.[83]

In 1923, The American Institute of Electrical Engineers created the Edison Medal and he was its first recipient.[83]

In 1927, he was granted membership in the National Academy of Sciences.[83]

On May 29, 1928, Edison received the Congressional Gold Medal.[83]

In 1983, the United States Congress, pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 140 (Public Law 97—198), designated February 11, Edison’s birthday, as National Inventor’s Day.[86]

Edison was ranked thirty-fifth on Michael H. Hart’s 1978 book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a list of the most influential figures in history.[87] Life magazine (USA), in a special double issue in 1997, placed Edison first in the list of the “100 Most Important People in the Last 1000 Years”, noting that the light bulb he promoted “lit up the world”. In the 2005 television series The Greatest American, he was voted by viewers as the fifteenth-greatest.

In 2008, Edison was inducted in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

In 2010, Edison was honored with a Technical Grammy Award.

In 2011, Edison was inducted into the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame, and named a Great Floridian by the Florida Governor and Cabinet.[88]

Tributes

Places and people named for Edison

Several places have been named after Edison, most notably the town of Edison, New Jersey. Thomas Edison State College, a nationally known college for adult learners, is in Trenton, New Jersey. Two community colleges are named for him: Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida, and Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio.[89] There are numerous high schools named after Edison (see Edison High School) and other schools including Thomas A. Edison Middle School.

In 1883, the City Hotel in Sunbury, Pennsylvania was the first building to be lit with Edison’s three-wire system. The hotel was renamed The Hotel Edison upon Edison’s return to the City on 1922.[90]

Lake Thomas A Edison in California was named after Edison to mark the 75th anniversary of the incandescent light bulb.[91]

Edison was on hand to turn on the lights at the Hotel Edison in New York City when it opened in 1931.[92]

Three bridges around the United States have been named in Edison’s honor: the Edison Bridge in New Jersey,[93] the Edison Bridge in Florida,[94] and the Edison Bridge in Ohio.[95]

In space, his name is commemorated in asteroid 742 Edisona.

Museums and memorials

Statue of young Thomas Edison by the railroad tracks in Port Huron, Michigan.

In West Orange, New Jersey, the 13.5 acre (5.5 ha) Glenmont estate is maintained and operated by the National Park Service as the Edison National Historic Site.[96] The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum is in the town of Edison, New Jersey.[97] In Beaumont, Texas, there is an Edison Museum, though Edison never visited there.[98] The Port Huron Museum, in Port Huron, Michigan, restored the original depot that Thomas Edison worked out of as a young newsbutcher. The depot has been named the Thomas Edison Depot Museum.[99] The town has many Edison historical landmarks, including the graves of Edison’s parents, and a monument along the St. Clair River. Edison’s influence can be seen throughout this city of 32,000.

In Detroit, the Edison Memorial Fountain in Grand Circus Park was created to honor his achievements. The limestone fountain was dedicated October 21, 1929, the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the lightbulb.[100] On the same night, The Edison Institute was dedicated in nearby Dearborn.

Companies bearing Edison’s name

In 1915

  • Edison General Electric, merged with Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric
  • Commonwealth Edison, now part of Exelon
  • Consolidated Edison
  • Edison International
  • Detroit Edison, a unit of DTE Energy
  • Edison S.p.A., a unit of Italenergia
  • Trade association the Edison Electric Institute, a lobbying and research group for investor-owned utilities in the United States
  • Edison Ore-Milling Company
  • Edison Portland Cement Company

Awards named in honor of Edison

The Edison Medal was created on February 11, 1904, by a group of Edison’s friends and associates. Four years later the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), later IEEE, entered into an agreement with the group to present the medal as its highest award. The first medal was presented in 1909 to Elihu Thomson. It is the oldest award in the area of electrical and electronics engineering, and is presented annually “for a career of meritorious achievement in electrical science, electrical engineering or the electrical arts.”

In the Netherlands, the major music awards are named the Edison Award after him. The award is an annual Dutch music prize, awarded for outstanding achievements in the music industry, and is one of the oldest music awards in the world, having been presented since 1960.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers concedes the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award to individual patents since 2000.[101]

Other items named after Edison

The United States Navy named the USS Edison (DD-439), a Gleaves class destroyer, in his honor in 1940. The ship was decommissioned a few months after the end of World War II. In 1962, the Navy commissioned USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610), a fleet ballistic missile nuclear-powered submarine.

maestro vaca Jul_12_103

THE MASTER AND THE COW

“A master of Wisdom was walking through the countryside with his apprentice when they came to a small, disheveled shack on a meager piece of farmland. ‘See this poor family,’ said the Master. ‘Go see if they will share with us their food.’ ‘But we have plenty,’ said the apprentice.

The master said, ‘Do as I say.’ The obedient apprentice went to the home. The good farmer and his wife, surrounded by their seven children, came to the door. Their clothes were dirty and in tatters. ‘Fair greetings,’ said the apprentice. ‘My Master and I are sojourners and want for food. I’ve come to see if you have any to share.’

The farmer said, ‘we have little, but what we have we will share.’ He walked away, and then returned with a small piece of cheese and a crust of bread. ‘I am sorry, but we don’t have much.’ The apprentice did not want to take their food but did as he had been instructed. ‘Thank you. Your sacrifice is great.’

‘Life is difficult,’ the farmer said, ‘but we get by. And in spite of our poverty, we do have one great blessing.’ ‘What blessing is that?’ asked the apprentice. ‘We have a little cow. She provides us milk and cheese, which we eat or sell in the marketplace. It is not much but she provides enough for us to live on.’

The apprentice went back to his Master with the meager rations and reported what he had learned about the farmer’s plight. The Master of Wisdom said, ‘I am pleased to hear of their generosity, but I am greatly sorrowed by their circumstance. Before we leave this place, I have one more task for you.’

Speak, Master.’

‘Return to the shack and bring back their cow.’

The apprentice did not know why, but he knew his Master to be merciful and wise, so he did as he was told. When he returned with the cow, he said to his Master, ‘I have done as you commanded. Now what is it that you would do with this cow?’

‘See yonder cliffs? Take the cow to the highest crest and push her over.’ The apprentice was stunned. ‘But Master…’

‘Do as I say.’ The apprentice sorrowfully obeyed. When he had completed his task, the Master and his apprentice went on their way.

Over the next years, the apprentice grew in mercy and wisdom. But every time he thought back on the visit to the poor farmer’s family, he felt a pang of guilt. One day he decided to go back to the farmer and apologize for what he had done. But when he arrived at the farm, the small shack was gone.

Instead there was a large, fenced villa.

‘Oh no,’ he cried. ‘The poor family who was here was driven out by my evil deed.’ Determined to learn what had become of the family, he went to the villa and pounded on its great door. A servant answered the door.

‘I would like to speak to the master of the house,’ he said. ‘As you wish,’ said the servant. A moment later a smiling, well-dressed man greeted the apprentice.

‘How may I serve you?’ the wealthy man asked. ‘Pardon me, Sir, but could you tell me what has become of the family who once lived on this land but is no more?’ ‘I do not know what you speak of,’ the man replied. ‘My family has lived on this land for three generations.’

The apprentice looked at him quizzically. ‘Many years ago I walked through this valley, where I met a farmer and his seven children. But they were very poor and lived in a small shack.

‘Oh,’ the man said smiling, ‘that was my family. But my children have all grown now and have their own estates.’

The apprentice was astonished. ‘But you are no longer poor. What happened?’

‘God works in mysterious ways,’ the man said, smiling. ‘We had this little cow that provided us with the slimmest of necessities, enough to survive but little more.

“We suffered but expected no more from life. Then, one day, our little cow wandered off and fell over a cliff. We knew that we would be ruined without her, so we did everything we could to survive. Only then did we discover that we had greater power and abilities than we possibly imagined and never would have found as long as we relied on that cow. What a great blessing from Heaven to have lost our little cow.”

I don’t know about you, but I loved this little story. I think we all have a little cow in our life that is holding us back. We shouldn’t settle for what is easy or for the bare minimum. Sometimes losing everything is what will help us find our true potential. So the next time that one of your “little cows” is taken away, take the opportunity to grow and learn and accomplish more. Growth will only occur outside our comfort zone.

8 Money-Saving Business Travel Tips | Inc. 5000.

via 8 Money-Saving Business Travel Tips | Inc. 5000.

8 Money-Saving Business Travel Tips

These eight tips will make your business travel easier and cheaper.

On Sunday May 19th, I will finish the tail end of an epic journey that started March 12th and included, Ho Chi Minh City, Phan Thiet, and Phu Quoc in Vietnam, Dubai in the UAE, Bath, Brighton and London in Great Britain, not to mention, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Atlantic City and Washington, D.C. During this entire time, I stopped home in New York City for only nine days.

I had weather ranging from 100 degrees and 90 percent humidity to 35 degrees with wind and rain. I needed to dress casual, business casual, in a suit and tie, and I needed workout clothes as well. I traveled in planes, trains, and automobiles as well as tubes, subways, buses, cabs, trolleys, and often by foot for three or four miles to get to my destination.

It was a blast! I learned a few things have changed in travel recently, so here are eight of my latest and most useful tips for the occasional traveler as well as the seasoned veteran.

1. Set Up Your Phone and Credit Cards Before You Leave

Roaming is still expensive, but most smartphones work on wireless in foreign lands. Call your carrier and check your options. Sometimes, you can buy a phone with time for cheap which is well worth it for the connectivity. Let your credit card companies know you are going to distant lands or you may find yourself cutoff at the worst time. You’ll need your card available for the best exchange rates.

2.  Invest in Decent Luggage

There is nothing worse then broken luggage on a long trip. For a few hundred dollars, you can get indestructible, easily packable roller bags that are well worth the investment. I have used only two bags in the last 20 years thanks to Briggs and Riley. For carryon, I switched to a backpack. This Tumi T-Tech is my new favorite. It’s big enough to carry all I need but it’s light, compact and with leather trim looks nice for any meeting. I keep my luggage packed with all my toiletries and travel items ready to go at all times. And don’t forget to pack a swimsuit because you never know when you’ll need it.

3. Wear TSA Friendly Clothes

TSA is the worst part of travel these days. The new scanners require no items on your person. I wear slip on shoes and drawstring pants to avoid the belt issue. Put all your pocket items in a light jacket or sport coat while in line so you can just put the whole coat in the bin. It’s still a hassle but you might be able to skip the whole thing with TSA Pre✓™.

4. Check Your Bags

Yes really! Thanks to new electronic tracking systems, today there is less than a 0.3 percent chance of luggage being lost. Plus, little time is saved by keeping it with you. In most airports, by the time you actually disembark, go to the bathroom, train to the main terminal and get to baggage claim, your luggage is nearly there. Meanwhile, by checking, TSA is faster, you can pack any size shampoo, avoid scrambling for overhead space, and you get an easy, lightweight walk through the terminal. You can avoid fees with frequent flyer status or an airline credit card. Then enjoy plenty of room to relax on the plane. For a little more legroom, after take off, take your carryon from under the seat and tuck it behind your legs. It acts like a footrest and allows you to stretch your legs.

5. Bring a Book (an actual book) and a Pillow.

E-readers are fine, but any flight will leave you with over 90 minutes of non-electronic time. This is my favorite reading opportunity. I always keep a new novel to entertain me and I never have to charge it. My other must-have is this new Samsonite adjustable pillow. I shaped it for many uses on planes, trains and for use in hotels. It beats any inflatable by far.

6. Get a Small Laptop

As a writer and video guy, I find tablets (even with keyboards) grossly inadequate for serious editing work. And sadly, my MacBook Pro 13″ was proving too big to open on some domestic coach flights. I love my new MacBook Air 11″. I tested it successfully in the tightest of spaces, and I love how light it is. If you prefer PC, get a small netbook. The cloud helps you use a small laptop for travel even if you need the big screen at home, and you’ll be thrilled with the portability for walking and full features out and about. Don’t forget a power adapter for all those weird plugs.

7.  Use Cabs as a Last Resort

Taxi cabs are hands down the most expensive form of transportation in most cities. They’re convenient for short distances if traffic is not terrible, but public transportation is best. Do some research and use the subway, metro or underground. You’ll save a ton of dough and get to see the flavor of the city by people watching. Or better yet, if you can time your meetings appropriately and if weather permits, take long walks and really experience the foreign lands you’re visiting.

8.  Consider Airbnb

I’ve stayed in my share of hotels, which were mostly fine. But Airbnb is now my lodging approach of first choice, especially in foreign lands. I used it twice on this adventure for three nights in Dubai and six nights in London. In each case, I had my own room with all the amenities of any hotel, and my hosts were delightfully friendly, and better at inside knowledge than any concierge I’ve known. I stayed in beautiful homes at a total cost savings for the nine nights of more than $2,000 overall compared with hotels in the same vicinity.

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An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies@awesomeroar

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I read this article on INC Magazine.

What do you think?

Can you be popular and effective?

If you want to read the article from INC’s website, click here.

Don’t Aim to Be Popular, Be Effective

Managing your employees is not a popularity contest. When you remain focused on real goals so will they.

By Janine Popick | Apr 26, 2013

As the leader of my online marketing company VerticalResponse, I wear a lot of hats and do many things. The one thing I’m not down with is being in a popularity contest because this isn’t high school, it’s my business and my No. 1 priority is to serve my customers and my investors. But, this doesn’t mean I’m not in service to my team, because I’ll be the first one to tell you, I work for them and I’m here to help them be more effective.

It All Rolls Up to You

With SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive) goals, your company’s goals should cascade in a nice waterfall from the executive team to each level. But what this also means is that at the top of the org chart, you’re ultimately responsible to beat the drum that gets things done so when you sit at that next board meeting you aren’t sweating bullets. In order to get things done you’ve gotta do a few things that the most successful CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, (who currently rules the roost in the No. 1 spot in a survey by Glassdoor.com) do:

Have a Clear Vision

Even during a time like now, when my business is going through an incredible change, we’ve made it a huge priority to be as open and transparent about where we are, where we’re headed and be 100 percent honest about any risks, challenges or delays. We hold town hall style meetings twice a month to keep everyone on the same page and enable them to ask questions and provide input and feedback. This has been incredibly effective at keeping us all in rhythm and keep the momentum and excitement building and let everyone know how what they do plays a role in our success and growth.

Have a Rock Solid Company Culture

VerticalResponse has always been a serious place. As in serious fun. We’re here to build the best online marketing tools and resources for our customers so marketing their businesses is a snap. But that doesn’t mean we have to dress in suits and ties and write in corporate speak. On the contrary, I’ve been known to sport my “Off The Deep End” t-shirt on software release days and last Friday there was a nerf gun fight that broke out just before our weekly happy hour. We try to support a work hard, play hard mentality. What’s really great is that we often hear the thing people most like about working here are their co-workers. When you’ve got a solid company culture, you’ll attract more of the kind of good folks you’ve already got.

Keep Moving Forward

After 12 years of leading my company, my passion for small businesses hasn’t wavered a bit. I eat, dream and breathe small business and my team knows it. By having the same level, if not even more of a vested interest in our customer’s success than I had the day I started VerticalResponse, I help us continue to move the business forward. That’s why we’re going through the massive change we are right now and will continue to evolve to stay ahead of the curve. But, I can’t do it alone. I need everyone, at every level sharing that clear vision we talked about, taking initiative and thinking like a boss to move it.

How are you not only popular, but also effective as a CEO?

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

Copyright © 2013 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved.

Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

via Don’t Aim to Be Popular, Be Effective.

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Before you spend all your money this holiday season, look at this graph that shows the value of things in time.

I found this article about Katie Couric in this month’s issue of my favorite magazine: Success. Katie is one of my favorite persons, I think she is a great example, and she is a member of my Honor Hall of Fame.

In short, these are the values that have governed Katie’s life up until now:

  • Be brave
  • Be prepared
  • Try something new
  • Keep your chin up
  • Be generous
  • Stay connected, grateful and open to joy

I like them all.

Here is the complete article, I hope you read it, really, it is worth it.

If you prefer to read it form the Success web page, there is a link at the end of this post. From the Success webpage, you can watch a video about Katie’s life (not available in some countries).

I hope you enjoy it, and that just as I did, you too learn something from Katie.

Do you have a favorite person? Is someone in your Honor Hall of Fame? Share with us!

Katie Couric is America’s… Adrenaline Junkie?!

In her latest career tweak, Katie Couric hosts a talk show and busts through yet another comfort zone

For many talk-show hosts, a studio audience is an invitation to navel-gaze—to share every blip of the hosts’ weekends, love lives and moments with their adorable, talented offspring. But not for Katie Couric. “People want me to reveal things about myself in the course of the hour,” she acknowledges by phone, sitting in her dressing room on the set of her new show, Katie. “But even though I’m a major ham, I’m also a little hesitant about oversharing. I think that can be really off-putting. So I’ve had to be really balanced about revealing a little bit about me or my background that isn’t too much.”

While she has aired some personal issues during Katie’s first weeks—most notably a struggle with bulimia in her late teens and early 20s—she has done so with brevity that would baffle the likes of Kelly Ripa.

Her modesty is refreshing, but it’s also dialed a bit high, considering Couric is that rare celebrity whose story has plenty to teach the rest of us. Not only has she forged an enviable broadcasting career, with high-powered jobs at all three major TV networks, but she also has raised two daughters (who do, in fact, seem adorable and talented); survived the loss of her husband, a sister and her father with optimism seemingly intact; overcome that eating disorder; and weathered the sniping and scrutiny that have driven other celebrities to public, camera-smashing hissy fits.

How has Couric done it?

By many accounts—hers, friends’, colleagues’—the answer begins with Couric’s childhood in Arlington, Va. As she writes in her 2011 book The Best Advice I Ever Got, it was a Leave It to Beaver-style upbringing filled with track meets, cheerleading and piano lessons, plus the support of her parents and three siblings. And underpinning it were beliefs and values that, Couric and friends agree, guide her to this day:

Be brave.

It’s no coincidence that one of the first guests on Katie was Brené Brown, author of the book Daring Greatly. “When it comes to going for a job, a promotion or just about anything in life, I’m pretty convinced that the meek will not inherit the earth,” Couric writes in The Best Advice. She recommends finding a way to “stand out from the pack”—burning your résumé into a baseball bat when applying for a job with a baseball team, say, or choosing a personal “trademark,” à la chef Mario Batali’s orange clogs. “Whether you call it chutzpah, cojones… or one of my dad’s favorite words, moxie, it’s an essential ingredient for success.”

Even as a newly minted college grad, with her only professional experience a series of radio internships, Couric suffered no shortage of pluck. After cold calls and mailed résumés failed to land a TV job, Couric recounts in The Best Advice, she put on a blazer and turned up at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C. She phoned the operator from the waiting area and boldly asked to be connected to the executive producer of World News Tonight. After he answered, she parlayed a distant family connection into an invitation to come see him in the newsroom. The producer then led her to the office of the deputy bureau chief—and a few weeks later she was hired as a desk assistant by ABC.

Other gutsy moments have included Couric’s famously no-holds-barred interview with Sarah Palin in 2008, and in 1992, an impromptu 19 minutes with the first President Bush for Today. Couric had been finishing a White House interview with his wife, Barbara, when the president (who had declined Today’s request to speak with him) happened by. Couric promptly sprang into hard-news mode, grilling Bush on the Iran-Contra issue and other subjects despite his protests. “I think a lot of people would have been afraid to do that,” says weatherman Al Roker, who worked with Couric for 10 years on Today. The interview proved so compelling that executive producer Jeff Zucker aired the whole thing live, dropping planned segments of the show. “She was like a dog with a bone,” Roker says.

Such moments can give Couric the jitters—but within reason, she says, that’s a good thing. “Tony Bennett tells artists who come in to record a duet with him that if they weren’t a little nervous or afraid, it would mean they didn’t care,” she explains. “I have high standards, particularly for myself, and of course the possibility of not meeting them is scary. I just feel all your senses are heightened when you’ve got a case of the nerves—adrenaline, for me, makes me perform better.”

Nevertheless, nervous energy is just part of her secret.

Be prepared.

Former Girl Scout that she is, Couric believes that to make the most of opportunities—from spur-of-the-moment interviews to planned tête-à-têtes—she must do lots of homework. “She’s always very prepared to take advantage of what happens,” Roker says. “She was prepared for George Bush; she was prepared for Sarah Palin. She gives off this aura of being kind of scattered, ‘Aren’t I kind of wacky?’—but the fact is she’s very focused, very smart.”

At Katie, preparation means constant rounds of meetings, rehearsals, voice-overs, promo spots, and reading materials by and about her guests. It means doing a phone interview from her hair-and-makeup chair, flanked by stacks of newspapers, between a confab with her producers and a fitting for clothes to wear on the show. Small wonder that throughout Katie’s early weeks, she tended to sound a bit hoarse.

“She’s a very hard worker, no nonsense—she’s boom-boom-boom,” says fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo, who has collaborated with Couric on cancer-awareness events. He has seen her among colleagues doing “a thousand things at once,” firm but smiling, not wasting a moment on second guesses. Case in point: When Couric chooses some of his dresses for future events. “She’ll say, ‘This is the White House dinner; this is the Met gala; this is the wedding in Virginia.’… She doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands.”

As you might expect, all that boom-boom-boom demands good fuel and a strong body. Fortunately, as Couric told the Associated Press in September, a therapist helped end her bulimic binge-purge cycle three decades ago. She has “learned how to have a much healthier relationship with food, and how to enjoy my life without obsessing about food.” Colleagues say Couric favors wholesome meals—tomato sandwiches, veggies from her garden. And she’s big on spinning classes, in which gym-goers pedal furiously on stationary bicycles. “It’s one of those exercise routines where you can’t kind of stop and say, ‘I’m tired,’ ” she told actress and social activist Marlo Thomas during a video chat.

Try something new.

After a career like Couric’s, many people would be tired. And if they had her kind of money (she made $15 million a year at CBS), they understandably might retire to a sunny island, tomato sandwich in hand.

Couric, naturally, is having none of that. Launching Katie in September, at age 55, was her latest in a string of leaps into the relative unknown—and her latest reason for being seen, in media circles, as a wiz at reinventing herself.

“I think I get more credit for reinvention than I really deserve,” Couric demurs. She has spent her whole working life in journalism, after all. “It’s not as if I was a teacher and one day I became a pharmaceuticals account executive and the next day an artist.” She has consistently chosen work that suits her “skill set” and fits in her “wheelhouse.”

Of course, that wheelhouse is big enough to steer an ocean liner. After her first desk-assistant job, Couric became a reporter in Washington and Miami, an editor at CNN, and a deputy Pentagon correspondent. She spent 15 years as (roll cliché) “America’s sweetheart” on NBC’s Today. She worked nearly five years at CBS, serving as the country’s first woman to anchor an evening news show, solo, as well as a correspondent for 60 Minutes—then left to develop Katie and become a special correspondent for ABC News. In October she debuted as a columnist for Woman’s Day magazine. Along the way, Couric has tweeted, blogged, Facebooked and webcast her way into our laptops and cellphones—all technologies she embraced before many of her TV counterparts.

“I think I’ve always tended to be a pretty forward-thinking person,” Couric says. Independent-thinking, too. While anchoring the news at CBS, she helped pioneer changes to the program—more interaction with correspondents and commentary from outsiders, for example. Though some were ultimately scrapped by the network, it seems clear that they helped prepare Couric to run a show of her own. “One of the reasons why doing this talk show appealed to me was… there were no rules,” she says. “My least favorite expression is ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it here.’ [At Katie] we can do it the way we think best, not because it’s steeped in tradition.”

Finding her own way is demanding, and Couric likes that. “Working is my definition of ‘enjoying life,’ ” she writes in her first Woman’s Day column. “Most of the time, I feel like a 27-year-old in a 55-year-old’s body.” Leaving your comfort zone is scary, she writes, but trying something new “gives you the chance to surprise yourself and to find out what you’re made of.”

How has Couric surprised herself since starting Katie?

“I’ve learned that I have more stamina than I thought I would at this age!” Couric says. “And that I really, truly enjoy people. I had to travel a lot and talk about our goals in doing this show and though I sometimes dreaded it, I always ended up having so much fun. I really have learned you get from the world what you give out. And I’ve learned that I still have a great deal of curiosity about people, issues and the world. I’ve also realized that no matter what you’re doing, you can still learn a lot from people around you—and although it might be easier, it’s just impossible for everyone to like you.”

Keep your chin up.

Couric has faced more than her share of detractors, especially as CBS anchor. Media critics, and even some colleagues, griped about everything from her paycheck there to her manner of delivering the news. Her predecessor Dan Rather claimed CBS had hired her to “dumb down [the Evening News], tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience.”

But Couric is too competitive to let naysayers have the last word, close associates say. “That kind of [criticism] makes her stronger and more determined,” says Katie’s co-executive producer Michael Bass, who has worked with Couric on and off for two decades. “She went out and worked her butt off and did a much better show” at CBS, helping the network win prestigious journalism awards in the process. (Couric’s competitive streak could be seen more recently during a Katie segment in which she played pingpong against actress Susan Sarandon, Bass says. “Susan was probably being very nice to Katie, but Katie was very determined.”)

Her sense of humor helps, too. Colleagues agree that Couric’s wit keeps everyone’s spirits up—as does her penchant for pranks. On the Today set, Roker recalls, she was always ready if a co-worker forgot to log off a computer. “Katie would come in and send off wacky messages to the head of NBC news under your login—‘I’m really in the mood for brownies today!’ ” he says.

More than once, Couric has countered media complaints about her lack of gravitas by saying that “gravitas” is a “Latin word for ‘testicles.’ ” Not that she always laughs off insults, she admits. Some of the negative press “has hurt—but I think I’m comforted by the fact that most people who have achieved something in this world have faced the same things. Everybody gets their time in a barrel.… It’s in the fine print of being a successful person.”

Speaking of print, Couric has decided she has better things to do than sit around reading nasty comments about her. “I try to spend my life doing constructive things. It’s a great way to live. I highly recommend it.”

Does she mean that as a rebuke to her detractors?

“You can read between the lines,” Couric says with a chuckle.

Be generous.

One of Couric’s favorite constructive things is her charity work. Since her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998 at age 42, she has thrown herself into educating people about colorectal cancer and helped raise millions of dollars toward finding a cure. (Her famous on-air colonoscopy is credited with boosting colon screenings 20 percent.) She also has promoted awareness and treatment of pancreatic cancer, which killed her sister Emily in 2001; Parkinson’s disease, which led to her father’s death last year; and other illnesses including breast cancer.

Couric’s volunteering doesn’t just help others, she says. “It’s made a world of difference to me,” restoring her sense of purpose and optimism when life seemed bleakest. “In fact, when I meet other widows or people who’ve experienced the loss of somebody, I often say, ‘Do something. Organize something—a walk in your neighborhood. If you have kids, have a bake sale or raise money for cancer research or ALS or whatever.’ ” Her activism doesn’t keep her from missing Monahan, says Couric, who still thinks about her husband “all the time” and imagines how it would have been to raise their daughters together. But helping others does provide a healthy sense of partial control, she says. Plus, Couric believes a generous life is far more fulfilling and meaningful than a “self-focused” one. “You don’t have to try to cure cancer,” she says. “It could be helping a friend or making sure someone you love is OK if they’ve had an operation. There are big and small ways that your heart can be open to other people.”

Indeed, Couric’s colleagues say, her kindness comes in all sizes. If you work with her and a loved one is sick, she’ll hook you up with the right doctor. If you’re sad, she’ll lend an ear. If you’re getting back on your feet after an illness, she’ll accompany you to your first spinning class, cheering you all the way.

Though Couric may not be thinking of business with such gestures, they’re a professional boon nonetheless.

“You don’t engender loyalty like she has by shutting yourself off,” Roker says. “She makes herself available. She gives of herself; she makes sure people get their due.”

Stay connected, grateful and open to joy.

Couric has often found herself on the receiving end of generosity as well, she says—especially after losing her husband, sister and father.

“I always ask my friends for help,” Couric says. “I talk to them a lot about everything. When my dad died, I talked a lot to my friend Wendy, who had lost her mom. My sister Kiki and I talked all the time [about] how to help my mom, who is now living without my dad after being married for 67 years…. I have an incredible support system. I hope it’s because I’m a good friend and that’s why I have so many friends who are good to me. I think just having a safe place to unload, a grace period after a tough time personally and professionally, is what’s gotten me through.”

Like many who have suffered big losses, Couric finds herself with a sunnier perspective on what she still has. “I think in everyone’s life a little rain must fall,” she says, “and I think it has made me appreciate when things are good, and the positive things in my life.”

First among the positives: her surviving loved ones. No matter how busy Couric has been over the years, say friends and associates, she has always made time for those closest to her. When her daughters were little and she worked at Today, Roker says, she went to all their games and school assemblies. “You know how Michelle Obama says her main job is being Mom in Chief?” he says. “Katie’s was kind of like Mom Anchor in Chief.” These days, despite her packed schedule, Couric finds time to share meals with her girls or, say, drive her older daughter to college; while traveling for Katie, she has made side trips to visit her mother in Virginia. She goes to museums, lunches with friends, sees plays.

“If anything, Jay’s death and my sister’s death made me realize that, you know, we have to enjoy ourselves while we can,” Couric says—then begins racking her brain. The night before her interview with SUCCESS, she had been reading a book by a friend that began with a motto in Latin. Couric immediately googled it to find out what it meant. “It was something like, ‘When we live, we should really live.’ It sounds so cheesy and weird, but I thought, ‘That’s a good motto for life.’ ”

Katie Couric is America’s… Adrenaline Junkie?! | 2012-11-13 | SUCCESS Magazine | Your Personal Development Resource.

via Katie Couric is America’s… Adrenaline Junkie?! | 2012-11-13 | SUCCESS Magazine | Your Personal Development Resource.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

This is one of my favorite business quotes, by one of the best entrepreneurs and businessmen of our time, Sam Walton.

In order to achieve success, you must read as much as you can about successful people. I have read several biographies about Sam Walton, but my favorite is The 10 Rules of Sam Walton, by Michael Bergdahl. I recommend you read it, but in case you don’t, here are Sam’s 10 rules, according to Bergdahl:

  1. Commit to achieving success and always be passionate.
  2. Share succes with those who have hepled you.
  3. Motivate yourself and others to achieve your dreams.
  4. Communicate with people and show them you care.
  5. Appreciate and recognize people for their efforts and results.
  6. Celebrate your own and other’s accomplishments.
  7. Listen to others and learn from their ideas.
  8. Exceed expectations of customers and others.
  9. Control expenses and save your way to prosperity.
  10. Swim upstream, be differnte, and challenge the status quo.

Here, some other quotes by Sam Walton:

  • Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.
  • High expectations are the key to everything.
  • We let folks know we’re interested in them and that they’re vital to us. Because they are.
  • Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.

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Don’t blame circumstances for your lack of success. If you want to succeed, get up and find the circumstances you need, and if you can’t find them, create them.

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A good leader doesn’t care to have more followers. A good leader wants to create more leaders.

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