April 8, 2012 · 10:00 am
Benjamin Franklin, by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (public domain image).
Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The Wikipedia describes Franklin as a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat; what is called a polymath.
Following Luca’s recommendation, I read some months ago Franklin’s autobiography. It was terrific. For the most part it describes his early life and how he was rising in the society and the origin and the work behind some of his great contributions to society: “Poor Richard’s Almanack” (which includes a collection of sayings that mark not only American culture but Western culture in general), “The Pennsylvania Gazette”, the first public lending library in America, the first fire department in Pennsylvania, etc.
One initiative that I especially liked was the creation of the Junto club; a club for mutual improvement where its members debated all kinds of questions from morals and politics, to sciences and business. This reminded me to the joy I have attending a particular Toastmasters meeting when you feel you have learnt something from the speeches you have heard. I will have to check whether there are such broad mutual improvement clubs in Toulouse (… note that he just went and created it! When he was 21!).
Other remarkable aspect was his setting of 13 virtues by which he was going to live (he did that at age 20) and apparently managed to practice for the rest of his life.
- “Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
- “Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
- “Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
- “Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
- “Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
- “Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
- “Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
- “Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
- “Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
- “Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.”
- “Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
- “Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
- “Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
Finally, last November, Luca and I visited the only remaining house where Benjamin Franklin once lived, for nearly sixteen years between 1757 and 1775, in one of his periods in London. I definitely recommend the visit to the house, at 36 Craven Street (2 blocks from Trafalgar Square), as it doesn’t take more than an hour and the animation that goes with it makes it highly entertaining (it goes without saying it that I highly encourage the reading of his autobiography).
November 11, 2010 · 12:00 pm
“What is the main thing you learn from studying an MBA?” When I have been asked this question I always answer that the learning process is different: Most of the subjects present you with situations / cases that once solved you said to yourself “well, it was applied common sense, wasn’t it?” Yes, applied common sense to some situations you never encountered or reflected on before. This is one way you learn, the other is hearing from first hand hundreds of real stories experienced by your teachers.
It is not like learning to solve fluid dynamics or differential equations exercises… it is not that before you didn’t how to solve a problem and then you know it, at least this is how I felt at EOI. The learning process during the MBA is more like encouraging you to apply common sense to many issues, making you reflect on new topics from those that entertained you at university.
I tell this because after reading “How to win friends & influence people”, by Dale Carnegie, I felt the same.
I found that Dale Carnegie is a great story-teller and nothing is better to learn or reflect on different issues than seeing the application of solutions, skills or techniques in stories, real stories. Some of the ones in the book came from Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Roosevelt, Rockefeller, several American generals… and many others were stories from lay people like you and me.
I remember that one of my teachers in the MBA used to say “70% of your work within a company is just human relationships; and precisely that is not taught anywhere”.
The skill to deal with other humans effectively is so important that, as Dale Carnegie tells in the book, Charles Schwab was the first person to earn a million dollars a year (when 2.500$ a year was considered a good salary), when he was picked by Andrew Carnegie (no relation) to become the first president of United States Steel company in 1921… Why? As Charles put it: “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement”. (We may argue whether he indeed deserved a salary hundreds of times higher than the average… I already discussed this when I commented other book in this blog).
Now, I leave you the different principles that Carnegie offers to improve your effectiveness when dealing with people (a rare animal indeed!), reflect on them:
Fundamental techniques in handling people:
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Six ways to make people like you:
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Win people to your way of thinking:
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong”.
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Throw down a challenge.
Be a leader:
- Begin with praise and hones appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
“Obvious…” This is one thought that may come to our mind when reading some of these statements. However, we’re not acting in that way every day, being as obvious as they may be – thus getting the results we get…
I encourage you to read the book (~260 pgs.) and see in those stories many examples applicable to yourself; daily situations in which to apply those principles.
Filed under Books, Education, Personal development & HR
Tagged as Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin, book, Charles Schwab, common sense, Dale Carnegie, EOI, MBA, people, principles, Rockefeller, Roosevelt, United States Steel