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Inspirational People: Andrew Carnegie: From $1.20 To $300 Billion

Andrew Carnegie - inspirational people to learn from

This article will explore the inspiring story of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, who was one of the wealthiest individuals to have ever lived. The lives of inspirational people like Carnegie offers valuable lessons that we can learn to achieve success.

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Who Was Andrew Carnegie And What Made Him Inspirational?

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1835, Andrew Carnegie was the son of a hand loom weaver. In 1848, his family decided to move to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh, in search of better opportunities.

At the age of 13, Carnegie began working as a bobbin boy, earning $1.20 per week in a cotton factory. Despite the grueling work, he remained steadfast in his determination to succeed. In his autobiography, he wrote, “My hopes were high, and I looked every day for some change to take place. What it was to be I knew not, but that it would come I felt certain if I kept on.”

One day, an opportunity presented itself when his employer needed help with the company accounts. Carnegie had good writing and numerical skills, and he began to assist with the accounts. He even enrolled in night school to learn double entry bookkeeping.

Career Progression

Soon, a family friend of his uncle asked if he knew anyone who could work as a messenger at the telegraph office. Carnegie was put forward for the position, and despite being young, small, and unfamiliar with the area, he seized the opportunity. “It is a great mistake not to seize the opportunity,” he said.

During this time, one of the wealthy clients he worked for opened up his personal library of books for boys to borrow and read once a week. Carnegie took full advantage of this, carrying his book with him at all times and reading during his breaks. This love for books would later inspire him to become a great philanthropist.

Learn from inspirational people like Andrew Carnegie

Making Money

After a year of working for the telegraph office, Carnegie’s hard work paid off, and he began earning $11.25 per month. He was eventually promoted to operating the telegraph machines for $25 per month. At the age of 18, he began working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad, becoming the main breadwinner for his family after his father’s death.


Carnegie’s boss at the railroad offered him an opportunity to buy stocks for $500, which his mother took out a loan against their home to finance. This was his first passive income stream, and he began to earn monthly dividends on these stocks. Working for the railroad also brought him into contact with influential people, including T.T Woodruff, the inventor of the railroad sleeping car.

After seeing models of his designs, Woodruff asked Carnegie to become a partner in his new business venture, with Carnegie owning an eighth of the company. To fund his contribution towards the cost of production, Carnegie had to take out a small loan, which he soon repaid as the sleeping car business proved to be a big success.

Moving Up In The World

With his growing wealth, Carnegie moved his family to a new home in the countryside, where he could associate with more affluent neighbors. During his visits to their homes, he listened carefully to their conversations, recognizing that he could learn something new every time he spoke to these wealthy and successful families. This was a way of building greater future business connections.

Carnegie recognized that iron rails were in short supply after the US Civil War, and with the help of financial partners, he set up an iron rail factory. He soon realized the potential for manufacturing purposes of iron and expanded into iron bridge building. With the business connections he had made, he was invited to participate in the purchase of oil wells during the early oil boom.

He expanded his business interests into the steel industry. He created the Carnegie Steel Company and utilized technological advancements such as the Bessemer process, which made steel production more efficient and cost-effective. By the 1890s, the Carnegie Steel Company was the largest and most profitable steel company in the world.

Making History And Becoming One Of The World’s Most Inspirational People

In 1901, the now 66 year old Carnegie was considering retirement. He agreed the sale of his entire company to J.P Morgan for $303 million. Equivalent of around 2% of the US GDP at that time. Carnegie being the largest shareholder received about $225 million of this.

Andrew Carnegie net worth

Andrew Carnegie Net Worth

At his wealthiest it is estimated that Andrew Carnegie had a personal fortune of about $380 million. (Andrew Carnegie net worth could be as high as $300 billion today when adjusted for inflation according to several estimates).

However, Carnegie did not just focus on building his wealth and increasing his net worth. He believed in giving back to society and became a great philanthropist. In 1889, he wrote an article titled “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he argued that the wealthy had a responsibility to use their wealth for the greater good. He believed that the accumulation of wealth was not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end of improving society.

Carnegie donated vast sums of money to various causes, including the founding of Carnegie Mellon University, the construction of thousands of public libraries, and the establishment of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In total, he gave away over $350 million, which would be worth billions of dollars today.

Lessons from Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie’s story is full of lessons that we can all learn from. One of the most important lessons is the power of perseverance. Despite coming from humble beginnings and facing many obstacles, he never gave up on his dreams and worked tirelessly to achieve his goals.

Another lesson is the importance of seizing opportunities when they arise. Carnegie understood that success often comes down to being in the right place at the right time and having the courage to take action when opportunities present themselves.

Finally, Carnegie’s philanthropy serves as an inspiration for all of us to use our resources to make a positive impact on the world. His belief in the power of wealth to do good is a reminder that we all have a responsibility to give back to society in our own way.

Andrew Carnegie Book

Andrew Carnegie wrote several books during his lifetime, including his most famous work, “The Gospel of Wealth,” which he published in 1889. He wrote “The Gospel of Wealth” to outline his ideas on how the rich should use their wealth for the greater good.

To write the book, Carnegie drew on his own experiences as a self-made millionaire and his observations of the social and economic conditions of his time. He wrote in a clear and concise style, using examples and anecdotes to illustrate his points.

Carnegie was a prolific writer and he often dictated his ideas to secretaries who would then transcribe them. He also revised and edited his work extensively, seeking to refine his arguments and clarify his message.

The Andrew Carnegie book “The Gospel of Wealth” was widely read and influential in its time, and it remains a classic work on the role of wealth in society.

Purchase the Andrew Carnegie book here

Andrew Carnegie Quotes

Here are some famous Andrew Carnegie quotes:

“The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”

“No man becomes rich unless he enriches others.”

“The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.”

“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.”

“The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.”

“Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.”

“Aim for the highest.”

“The greatest asset is a strong mind, if I know someone is training his mind, everything else will fall into place.”

Andrew Carnegie quotes


Who was Andrew Carnegie and what was his contribution to the business world?

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate, and philanthropist who made a significant contribution to the steel industry in the United States. His company, Carnegie Steel Company, became the largest and most profitable steel producer in the world during his time. Carnegie’s contribution to the business world was in his innovative approach to manufacturing and his keen ability to recognize opportunities for growth and expansion.

What is the importance of perseverance in achieving success, according to Carnegie’s philosophy?

According to Carnegie’s philosophy, perseverance is essential in achieving success. He believed that success is not just about talent or luck but is also about persistence and hard work. Carnegie believed that failure was not the end but an opportunity to learn and improve. He also emphasized the importance of having a clear vision and setting specific goals to stay focused and motivated.

Learn the importance of embracing failure to achieve success

Can you give examples of successful individuals who have demonstrated perseverance in their careers?

There are many examples of successful individuals who have demonstrated perseverance in their careers, such as Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs. Each of these individuals faced significant challenges and setbacks in their careers but continued to persevere and eventually achieved great success.

How can one cultivate perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks?

To cultivate perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks, one can start by setting realistic and achievable goals, breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, and celebrating small victories along the way. It is also important to maintain a positive attitude, seek support from others, and learn from mistakes.

What are some practical tips for setting and achieving goals, inspired by Carnegie’s principles of success?

To set and achieve goals inspired by Carnegie’s principles of success, one should start by creating a clear and specific vision for what they want to accomplish. Next, they should set achievable goals and create a plan of action to achieve those goals. It is also important to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

What is the role of education and continuous learning in pursuing personal and professional growth, as emphasized by Carnegie?

Education and continuous learning are critical in pursuing personal and professional growth, as emphasized by Carnegie. He believed in the power of education to transform lives and that continuous learning was essential for personal and professional development. Carnegie encouraged individuals to invest in their education and to never stop learning.

How can one balance ambition and humility in the pursuit of success, and avoid becoming overly focused on wealth and status?

To balance ambition and humility in the pursuit of success, one can start by focusing on the intrinsic value of their work rather than external validation, such as wealth or status. It is also important to recognize and appreciate the contributions of others, seek out feedback and constructive criticism, and maintain a sense of humility.

What is the relevance of Carnegie’s ideas about wealth and philanthropy in today’s society, and how can we apply them to address current issues and challenges?

The relevance of Carnegie’s ideas about wealth and philanthropy in today’s society lies in the continued need to address issues of inequality and poverty. Carnegie believed that with great wealth comes great responsibility and encouraged individuals to use their wealth to benefit society. Today, many philanthropists follow this philosophy, using their resources to fund research, support education, and address social and environmental issues.

Inspirational People Conclusion

Andrew Carnegie was an inspirational figure who overcame great adversity to achieve incredible success. His story serves as a reminder that with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to seize opportunities, we can all achieve great things. Furthermore, his dedication to philanthropy is a testament to the power of using our resources to make a positive impact on the world.

Purchase the Andrew Carnegie book here

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