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The Transformers Entrepreneurs who changed the world and how they did it

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Nobody has ever isolated what makes great entrepreneursgreat, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Businesshistorian Maury Klein takes on the question in The Change Makers: From Carnegie to Gates, HowGreat Entrepreneurs Transformed Ideas into Industries(Times Books), which compares and contrasts Americanentrepreneurial legends. He looks at how Thomas Edison and EdwinLand generated creativity, how Jay Gould and Bill Gates battledantitrust regulators, what the entrepreneurs did on their own timeand more.

Klein uncovers many differences. Railroad magnate E.H. Harriman,for example, eagerly spent money on anything that might improve histracks, while retailer J.C. Penney made a ritual of re-using bitsof paper and string.

Klein describes the commonalities he found in a short list: Allwere determined to make their mark no matter what the cost, weresupremely talented, had a deep need for independence, knew theirbusinesses inside out, had enormous ability to focus and werehighly creative types. Oddly, he wraps up this unusually originalbook with the well-worn observation that they became greatprimarily because they worked really hard and never quit. Maybethat really is all there is to it.

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