The person who built Florida is the last person you'd expect.
Building a state is a phenomenal feat, but when it comes to Florida, you may be hard pressed to think of who to thank.
However, next time you're driving down Flagler street in Miami, know that the name derives from the father of modern day Florida - an industrial Northerner who was the second hand man to John G. Rockefeller.
Henry Flagler. A name that most people wouldn't know today.
As an industrialist, there are many lessons to be garnered that we can apply in our lives to help execute and excel in business. Many of the principles and actions that drove Henry Flagler helped drive the success, and build the legacy the man left.
What we will cover today:
- Opportunity: When you see an opportunity, build a railroad
- Do unto others as they would do unto you: and do it first
When you see an opportunity, build a railroad
Henry Flagler was a northerner all his life.
He spent the first part of his life in the Northern United States, from building a fortune selling salt to the civil war, to growing his riches helping to build Standard Oil.
He was responsible for many of the great competitive advantages at Standard Oil.
Overseeing the shipping logistics network, he helped drive extreme savings to the
In addition, helped come up with the ingenious corporation structure, which helped play the foundation for the strategic growth of the business as it acquired competitors.
Flagler was a shrewd and ruthless negotiator - in his time, he was known to make competitors "sweat", always between two options, each positioned well to drive success for Standard Oil.
In his latter years, and as his wife began falling ill, he decided to move to St. Augustine in Florida. During that time, moving to warmer weather was often prescribed to people in ailing health.
While in Florida, he found that there was many things not to the same standard he was used to in the North. Trains were missing. Hotels were not great. No great newspaper in the area.
But there was great weather and views.
This drove Henry to help build everything from the grounds up, from building out the East Coast Florida Railway, to multiple hotels from Miami to St. Augustine, along with essentially the modern infrastructure that helped propel the development of Florida in the 20th century.
What does this mean for yourself?
Think about the opportunities that we see as you move through your life. Henry didn't plan to live the rest of his days in Florida, and yet, he turned this into an opportunity to build a commanding legacy and leave his imprint in one of the largest states in the United States.
Do unto others as they would do unto you - and do it first
Even in his industrial hay-day, Henry never forgot about his priorities. He was one of the most powerful men in America, commanding a business empire, and yet he always made sure to prioritize family.
During his time at Standard Oil, he always made sure to come home and read to his ailing wife. It is told that in all his years at Standard Oil, he only missed these readings twice.
And in his companions, he was described as being dapper, good humoured, and while rogue, a man built for his time. His strong reputation helped drive the many relationships he built, from the trust of Rockefeller, to the communities of Florida as he pitched his many great ideas.
The admiration of Flagler is carried through the description of him by Rockefeller
"You and I have been associated in business upwards of thirty-five years, and while there have been times when we have not agreed on questions of policy, I do not know that one unkind word has ever passed or unkind thought existed between us. I feel my pecuniary success is due to my association with you, if I have contributed anything to yours I am thankful." - Rockefeller
What does this mean for yourself?
In life and in business - it helps to be kind. And kindness is blind, just as we provide our devotion to those closest to us in family, we should also ensure that we carry this to all associates we meet in our lives.
Our goal in the Midnight Brief is to provide you unique insights wherever they are in the intersection of politics, business and history.
If you enjoyed what you read here, please consider subscribing to this newsletter!
As always, we look forward to your comments and discussion below.