Digest of Henry Ford’s My Work and My Life

This is the reading digest of Henry Ford’s <My life and My work>. Henry Ford is among the group of able people who completely change the transportation of human beings and consequently shape our society.  He is a business man with great vision of the society. The real business leaders are always visionary and think big, that’s the reason why they are charismatic.

The Government is a servant and never should be anything but a servant.

Note: The government is not necessarily to be brilliant or productive by itself. The duty of Government is to make sure the most brilliant people in the society, no matter whether they are scientists, musician, entrepreneurs, or others, can have a safe and inspiring environment to use their brilliance.

Business men believed that you could do anything by “financing” it. If it did not go through on the first financing then the idea was to “refinance.” The process of “refinancing” was simply the game of sending good money after bad. In the majority of cases the need of refinancing arises from bad management, and the effect of refinancing is simply to pay the poor managers to keep up their bad management a little longer. It is merely a postponement of the day of judgment. This makeshift of refinancing is a device of speculative financiers. Their money is no good to them unless they can connect it up with a place where real work is being done, and that they cannot do unless, somehow, that place is poorly managed. Thus, the speculative financiers delude themselves that they are putting their money out to use. They are not; they are putting it out to waste.

Note: It is worse for the “good” money to be put into “bad” business than the “bad” money to be put into “good” business. By putting your money into a poor-managed company, you are actually endorsing the low-efficient production unit, which takes resources that should be available for more efficient business. The right approach to the problem of business to change its management, or simply shut it down and start over if management reform is not possible, but not to extend its life by burning more money.

George B. Selden, a patent attorney, filed an application as far back as 1879 for a patent the object of which was stated to be “The production of a safe, simple, and cheap road locomotive, light in weight, easy to control, possessed of sufficient power to overcome an ordinary inclination.” This application was kept alive in the Patent Office, by methods which are perfectly legal, until 1895, when the patent was granted.

Note: Any law can be misused, including the patent law. One thing need to be remembered, a good business needs patent to protect itself, not to attack others.

I believe that there is very little occasion for charity in this world–that is, charity in the sense of making gifts. Most certainly business and charity cannot be combined; the purpose of a factory is to produce, and it ill serves the community in general unless it does produce to the utmost of its capacity.

Note: Charity itself should not be abused. 99% of the charity in the world is just to satisfy people’s need of superiority, and it encourages nothing but laziness. The real charity is to provide the essential opportunity for poor people to earn their life by themselves.

The habit of failure is purely mental and is the mother of fear. This habit gets itself fixed on men because they lack vision. They start out to do something that reaches from A to Z. At A they fail, at B they stumble, and at C they meet with what seems to be an insuperable difficulty. They then cry “Beaten” and throw the whole task down. They have not even given themselves a chance really to fail; they have not given their vision a chance to be proved or disproved. They have simply let themselves be beaten by the natural difficulties that attend every kind of effort.

Note: It is just a matter of habit.

A country becomes great when, by the wise development of its resources and the skill of its people, property is widely and fairly distributed.

Note: The problem of China is not ideology. We don’t care about whether China is socialism or capitalism. What we care is whether people have the opportunity equality in the sense that the self-motivated people who want to earn their lives can get the resource they should have.

Perhaps no word is more overworked nowadays than the word “democracy,” and those who shout loudest about it, I think, as a rule, want it

Note: Look at Chairman Mao. Simply don’t trust politicians who shout loudest for democracy

The workingman himself must be on guard against some very dangerous notions–dangerous to himself and to the welfare of the country. It is sometimes said that the less a worker does, the more jobs he creates for other men. This fallacy assumes that idleness is creative. Idleness never created a job. It creates only burdens. The industrious man never runs his fellow worker out of a job; indeed, it is the industrious man who is the partner of the industrious manager–who creates more and more business and therefore more and more

Note: idleness create no value

The public was paying, and business was booming, and management didn’t care a

Note: 公司人数的快速增长并不代表公司的快速增长。The growth of payrolls does not necessarily mean the growth of the business. 我不明白为什么有的公司领袖会夸耀自己公司的人数规模,在我看来,创造了同样价值但是雇佣了更多的人并不值得夸耀。这不是创造了就业,这是降低了社会的效率。

An employer may be unfit for his job, just as a man at the lathe may be

Note: In the case that boss is unfit for his position, there are two options to increase the welfare of the society. The first option is to fire the boss and the second option is to fail the business. If the boss of the business is fired, there is some possibility that the business will recover, however the possibility is really really small, if not none. A more common case is that a business will be kicked out and a new company will replace it. The company is dead, long live the market. 我们总有一种情怀觉得要让给公司越长越好,公司寿命长对于这个社会并不是一定有益处的。公司的快速迭代是更好的让社会前进的选择。

I pity the poor fellow who is so soft and flabby that he must always have “an atmosphere of good feeling” around him before he can do his work. There are such men. And in the end, unless they obtain enough mental and moral hardiness to lift them out of their soft reliance on “feeling,” they are failures. Not only are they business failures; they are character failures also; it is as if their bones never attained a sufficient degree of hardness to enable them to stand on their own feet.

Note: I cannot agree more. If you can work only when you feel good, you are doomed to be a loser. Edit

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