Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Live Life Like Vanderbuilt - A New Year's Resolution

image of new year celebration fireworks with a legend "happy new year!" below
Happy New Year! 
In a day when one must conduct an inventory of old failures and accomplishments while finishing to write the plan for the new year, I would like to share a fantastic American story.

I recently finished the book The First Tycoon; The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles. What a fantastic narrative!
Would you consider yourself to be both lucky and important to society if you:

  1. Met Lincoln
  2. Helped Lincoln win the civil war
  3. Donated the largest and most feared Union Navy vessel
  4. Fought for the union Navy
  5. Became a key player in helping New York become the economic center of the US
  6. Facilitated the migration of people to California during the Gold Rush
  7. Be a key player in the fight to create a shorter route through Panama and Nicaragua
  8. Be a pioneer in the idea that companies are entities
  9. Be a pioneer in the idea that markets should be free
  10. Be a pioneer in pushing the value of stock markets
  11. Be a pioneer in the deployment of steam engines
  12. Be a pioneer in the deployment of railroads
  13. Rescue the stock market more than once
  14. The builder of Grand Central in New York
  15. Did business with two youngsters: Rockefeller and Carnegie
  16. Being criticized by Mark Twain while the writer was alive
  17. Created the idea of luxury cruising
  18. Built comparable wealth to 20 times that of Bill Gates
  19. Accomplish all after starting from nothing and without any education
image of the cover of the book "The First Tycoon; The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt" by writer T. J. Stiles
The great story of C. Vanderbilt
That was Vanderbilt's life. Before him, Texas and California were part of Mexico. The US was just a bunch of disjointed groups trying to find their way. After his death, the US was much more like what we know today. This happened two centuries ago!
He lived to an extended age at a time when half as old was usually the end of one's life. It would be easy to rewrite history and be critical of such a man. But to do so would be to be blind to the fact that his accomplishments were larger than life. This is a highly recommended book for all and anyone.
I wish all that 2014 begins a better tomorrow.
Feliz Año Nuevo!


  1. The grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt----George Vanderbilt---came to Asheville, NC in 1888, fell in love with the mountains, came back to build his Biltmore House and Estate---over 100,000 acres when it opened in 1895.

    The house and the estate(which has shrunk to about 25,000 acres) have survived through the years, and today is one of the most visited tourist spots in the USA!

    I have the good fortune to live in Asheville, and am an annual pass holder to visit the estate---and each time I go through the house, I am further inspired at what an entrepreneurial mind can do and to enjoy the fruits of those labors.

    The son of Cornelius---William Henry Vanderbilt---doubled his father's fortune, as he also had quite an entrepreneurial mind.

    The two grandsons of George Vanderbilt---Bill Cecil and George Cecil---are to be commended for keeping and maintaining the Biltmore House and the estate---which has now been split between the two brothers, and their families are now prospering in their separate family businesses!

    Kudos to both, and a feather in the cap for Asheville, NC, and western N. C.!!!

    Tom E. Muncy, CBI

    1. Great points Tom.
      I still struggle to fully comprehend the magnitude of their accomplishments; especially when considering how long ago it all happened.
      I must visit the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.