MARK TWAIN TELLS OF HIS BUSINESS VENTURES
"To Succeed, Avoid My Example," Is His Axiom, He Says.
Confides to the Poughkeepsie Eastman Club His Idea of Diligence, Honesty, and Truthfulness.
The Poughkeepsie Eastman Club, an organization of alumni of the Eastman Business College at Poughkeepsie, held its second annual banquet last night at the Young Men's Christian Association Hall on Twenty-third Street, near Fourth Avenue. One hundred and fifty guests sat down to the tables.
F. L. Bailey, President of the club, presided. The other speakers were C. C. Gains, President of the Eastman National Business College; Henry D. Dickson, James G. Cannon, Vice President of the Fourth National Bank, and Samuel L. Clemens, (Mark Twain.)
Mark Twain was introduced by Mr. Bailey as a personal friend of Tom Sawyer, who was one of the types of successful business men. He took his text from the speech of Mr. Cannon, who had enunciated some business principles on which the success of young men depended. Mr. Clemens said:
"Mr. Cannon has furnished me with texts enough to last as slow a speaker as myself all the rest of the night. I took exception to the introducing of Mr. Cannon as a great financier. As if he was the only great financier present! I am a financier. But my methods are not the same as Mr. Cannon's.
"I cannot say that I have turned out the great businessman that I thought I was when I began life. But I am comparatively young yet, and may learn. I am rather inclined to believe that what troubled me was that I got the big head early in the game. I want to explain to you a few points of difference between the principles of business as I see them and those that Mr. Cannon believes in.
"He says that the primary rule of business success is loyalty to your employer. That's all right - as a theory. What is the matter with loyalty to yourself? As nearly as I can understand Mr. Cannon's methods, there is one great drawback to them. He wants you to work a great deal.
"Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful. My idea is that the employer should be the busy man and the employee the idle one. The employer should be the worried man and the employee the happy one. And why not? He gets the salary.
"My plan is to get another man to do the work for me. There's more repose in that. What I want is repose first, last, and all the time.
"I want to tell you of some of my experiences in business, and then I will be in a position to lay down one general rule for the guidance of those who want to succeed in business. My first effort was about twenty-five years ago. I took hold of an invention - I don't know now what it was all about - but someone came to me and told me that there was lots of money in it. He persuaded me to invest $15,000, and I lived up to my beliefs by engaging a man to develop it. To make a long story short, I sunk $40,000 in it.
"Then I took up the publication of a book. I called in a publisher and said to him: ' I want you to publish this book along lines which I shall lay down. I am the employer, and you are the employee. I am going to show them some new kinks in the publishing business. And I want you to draw on me for money as you go along,' Which he did. He drew on me for $56,000. Then I asked him to take the book and call it off. But he refused to do that.
"My next venture was with a machine for doing something or other. I knew less about that than I did about the invention. But I sunk $170,000 in the business, and I can't for the life of me recollect what it was the machine was to do.
"I was still undismayed. You see, one of the strong points about my business life was that I never gave up. I undertook to publish Gen. Grant's book, and made $140,000 in six months - and lost it all in the next six months. My axiom is - to succeed in business, avoid my example.
"Mr. Cannon says that there are three cardinal rules of business success. They are diligence, honesty, and truthfulness. Well, diligence is all right. Let it go as a theory. Honesty is the best policy - when there is the most money in it. But truthfulness is one of the most dangerous - why, this man is misleading you."
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