Here’s a lesson from Henry Ford (1863-1947)
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
Henry Ford was an American industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company, which sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand. He also played a major role in the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Before he started his company, most American middle-class families were not in a position to own automobiles which only the upper classes could afford.
However, Ford revolutionized the automobile industry by developing and manufacturing affordable automobiles that even the middle-class community could conveniently purchase. Born to a farmer in Greenfield Township, Michigan, he started displaying leadership qualities and technical skills as a young boy.
He was expected to follow his father and become a farmer, but the independent minded young man had other plans for himself. Intelligent and hardworking, he apprenticed with a machinist and went on to become an engineer.
Fascinated with automobiles, he started conducting his own experiments in building them. During this time, he became acquainted with the famous inventor Thomas Edison who encouraged the young man’s experiments. Motivated, Ford built several automobiles before establishing the Ford Motor Company.
As an industrialist, he adopted several innovations in his company that revolutionized the entire automobile industry. He was also well known for his pacifist views and staunch opposition to war.
From a social perspective, Henry Ford's was marked by seemingly contradictory viewpoints. In business, Ford offered profit sharing to select employees who stayed with the company for six months and, most important, who conducted their lives in a respectable manner.
The company's "Social Department" looked into an employee’s drinking, gambling and otherwise uncouth activities to determine eligibility for participation. Ford was an ardent pacifist who opposed World War I, even funding a peace ship to Europe. Later, in 1936, Ford and his family established the Ford Foundation to provide ongoing grants for research, education and development. But despite these philanthropic leanings, Ford was also a committed anti-Semite, going as far as to support a weekly newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, which furthered such views.
Henry Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 7, 1947, at the age of 83, near his Dearborn estate, Fair Lane. Ford, considered one of America's leading businessmen and is credited today for helping to build America's economy during the nation's vulnerable early years. His legacy will live on for decades to come.