Carnegie’s wisdom on mining for gold

If you are looking for that one gem to help take your team to the next level, read this advice from Andrew Carnegie.

In today’s environment of high-velocity change, a business’s technology, product innovation or unique distribution are only fleeting advantages. In fact, the only sustainable competitive advantage is an organisation’s talent and how reliably they perform.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) came to America from his native Scotland when he was a small boy, did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually ended up as the largest steel manufacturer in the United States.

At one time, he was the wealthiest man in America. To put his wealth into perspective, he built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $ 480 million. Today’s equivalent value is nearly $ 400 billion. He was also a great philanthropist donating the current equivalent of $ 79 billion to various charities, universities and libraries. At one point, he had 43 millionaires working for him. In the late 1800s, a millionaire was a very rare person.

A reporter asked Carnegie how he had hired 43 millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men had not been millionaires when they started working for him but had become millionaires as a result.

The reporter’s next question was, “How did you develop these men to become so valuable to you that you have paid them this much money?”

Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tonnes of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for the gold.

Some leaders find themselves sitting on a mountain of gold, and yet they feel poor because they don’t know how to mine the gold from their teams.

Excellent leaders coach good employees to become great people. They help them build better lives for themselves and others. They build their employees from the inside out… inspiring excellence at work and in life.

As the late, great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, said, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

By Lee Colan, Co-founder, The L Group

Published on Sept. 23, 2016 in

Image: A US postage stamp of 1960 commemorating Andrew Carnegie as an industrialist, philanthropist and founder of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Courtesy