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In the 19th century, a captain of industry was a business leader whose means of amassing a personal fortune contributed positively to the country in some way. This may have been through increased productivity, expansion of markets, providing more jobs, or acts of philanthropy.[2] This characterization contrasts with that of the robber baron, a business leader using political means to achieve personal ends.


This year's honorees are pioneers in their own right as leaders across global sectors, including in medicine, higher education, space exploration, earth sciences and sustainability. Each honoree is a captain of industry who has made and continues to make significant contributions to the university, to the community and worldwide.

The wealthy elite of the late 19th century consisted of industrialists who amassed their fortunes as so-called robber barons and captains of industry. Both can be defined as business tycoons, but there was a significant difference in the way they made their fortunes.

Automaker Henry Ford was a captain of industry who is considered to have treated his workers well. He believed that well-paid workers would be happier and more efficient. For that reason, he instituted a $5-a-day pay rate, which was twice as much as other auto manufacturers paid.

Great captains of industry emerge and shine even when they or their companies have been harshly challenged, turning their so-called challenges into great opportunities with astonishing results. They see difficulties as catalysts to deepen their purpose and realign themselves to their highest and most meaningful values. They maximize their discipline, respond with greater creativity and heighten their prioritized and most productive actions. It is their resilience, not pure or partial luck, that makes up the signature of their greatness.

Great captains of industry set and live by high, exact and rigorous standards that focus on excellence for its own sake. They focus on building, creating and contributing. They are inspired by more than just salaries, bonuses or compensation plans. They are disciplined in thought and action. They care as much about the fulfillment of their highest values as they do their victories, as much about their purpose as they do their profits and as much about their usefulness to the world as they do their rewards.

Great captains of industry act more than react. They thrive more than survive. They create spectacular business performances regardless of any unstable environment. They observe what works, figure out why it works and build upon proven track records. They are wise and certain, but not invincible. They are more precautious and intensely prepared with a series of contingency plans. They are empirical and disciplined. They maintain their conservative approach.

Great captains of industry give themselves permission to explore alternative paths to achieving their aims. They build enormous margins of safety for unforeseen events. They know there are no permanently stable times. They embrace the paradox of control and non-control. They know it is not what happens to them, but how they act. They are deliberate, methodical and systematically prepared. They ask themselves: What are the worst-case scenarios that could occur? What are the consequences of these worst-case scenarios if they did occur? What contingently plans are wise to put in place to address these worst-case scenarios?

Great captains of industry build their organizations one congruent and productive person at a time. They create work environments where hardworking people thrive and uninspired people disappear. They do not blindly acquiesce to authority. They love their mission, their organization and the people they work with. They allow for, face and pay attention to the brutal, unfiltered facts of reality. They do not follow the fads and trends set by others. They do not waste their time trying to motivate people.

A captain of industry is an extremely successful entrepreneur who dedicates some part of his or her wealth to charitable pursuits. The term came into common usage during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, when business barons gained tremendous power and wealth as a result of the booming new industries. There have been many famous captains of industry throughout history, each dedicated to improving conditions and communities by applying wealth and business acumen to noble causes. Some of the most famous include Andrew Carnegie, Invar Kamprad, and Bill Gates.

Andrew Carnegie is frequently cited as one of the first great captains of industry in the Industrial era. The child of Scottish immigrants and boasting little education, he rose through the ranks of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, becoming primarily responsible for the Pittsburgh steel industry. Despite his meteoric success, Carnegie warned others frequently of the dangers of wealth, and devoted much of his money toward philanthropy. He became instrumental in the creation of public libraries throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, while also giving generously to universities, scientific laboratories, and orchestras.

  • I know that there are guys like Carnegie, Hearst, Gates, and Rockefeller that are considered captains of industry, but who else is on their level of wealth and success?The only name that I can think of that has not been mentioned is Howard Hughes. Besides him I cannot really think of any other captains of industry.I have a paper for a class comparing captains of industry and I need a couple more, preferably between the times of Gates and Hughes, simply because of the time gap between the two. titans62 September 3, 2012 @izzy78 - I would have to say that John D. Rockefeller is a great example of someone that could be considered both.He did drive his competitors out of business and did do some unscrupulous things that would be considered illegal today, all in the name of enhancing his business, but he also gave back a lot when he was older.Maybe he had a change of heart and was trying to redeem himself, or maybe this was his plan all along and realized that if he made so much he could give back more to those who need it and better society.Despite the labeling of robber baron and captain of industry I really think that it does not really matter what they give back, but how they enhance their industry and how high they rise.Although a person can amass a great person being a robber baron, they can almost never be on the same level as Carnegie or Hearst and they advanced their industry so far with their success that they should be considered captains of industry, despite what negatives they may have done. jcraig September 2, 2012 It seems like someone could be seen as both a captain of industry and a robber baron, depending on what they've done recently. For instance, if a robber baron suddenly donates a new wing to a hospital, all of the sudden people start calling him a captain of industry instead. It seems like the whole thing is really up to how people see him at a given moment. Izzy78 September 1, 2012 I have read very much about captains of industry and robber barons and I can say that there is a distinct difference between the two, but it is a matter of opinion exactly how one categorizes the person.Let us take Andrew Carnegie for instance. After he made his fortune he sought to help society, by creating hundreds of libraries across the country, many in small rural towns, that allowed for the betterment of society.Bill Gates is another instance as he has already made his fortune and has gone out of his way to try and help the world.One person that I would classify as a robber baron would be William Randolph Hearst, simply because of the unethical business tactics he used to get to where he did, as well as the fact he was not afraid to crush his competition any way possible. He also did this in such a way that he was more concerned with his fortune and did not go the route Carnegie or Gates did and tried to give back to society. bythewell July 2, 2011 Honestly, I think Bill Gates and his foundation is one of the best things that's ever happened to the world. Say what you like about him, the man was never interested in money for its own sake. And if he can start trying to solve the world's problems, seeing it as something to be figured out, and have enough money to really throw at the solutions, quite a few things will really start happening. There are several diseases that are close to being wiped out, just because of that foundation. And the best thing is that they are concentrating on malaria now. I'm hoping a cure isn't far away. umbra21 July 1, 2011 My father used to tell us a story about one of our great great grandfathers, who was supposedly at one point the richest man in Texas (I have no idea if this story, or even the richest man part is true).He came to the States a poor immigrant, and tried to get a job as a clerk at a store. When it came to signing the contract, he signed with an X and the man hiring him demanded, don't you even know how to read? And refused to hire him. So, instead, in desperation, my grandfather managed to scrape together a few coins, bought some apples, and sold them. Then bought some more fruit, and sold it. Then he managed to save enough for a cart, and eventually his own store. After a few years he had lots of stores, and could eventually be called one of the captains of the industry. He was giving a check to charity in fact, when one of the journalists noticed he signed it with an X. "My goodness," he said. "You've done all this and you don't know how to read? Where would you be today if you'd had an education!" "Well," my grandfather said. "I'd be a clerk in a store." Post your comments Please enter the following code: Login: Forgot password? Register: blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-1']); blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-2']); blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-3']); blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-4']); blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-5']); blogherads.adq.push(['sky', 'skm-ad-sky-6']); window.stockSnippets = window.stockSnippets ; window.stockSnippets['ss_rhs'] = ` `; By: Maik Meid Microsoft founder Bill Gates started a foundation supporting education and health care. By: Gino Santa Maria Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie is forever linked with the city of Pittsburgh. By: Popova Olga Andrew Carnegie became one of the richest men of the 19th century. blogherads.adq.push(['inlineoop', 'skm-ad-outstream']); Categories

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