Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Change the World: From James Watt to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs: Biography

A good, short read about his life possibly unveils a few characteristics of successful businessmen. One here is that he did not just snap his fingers and "Boom" - SUCCESS. He went through many failures. He had ups and downs. He had challenges of all kinds. Perhaps some of those challenges that he went through contributed to his ability to become one of the greatest innovators in the modern world. I found it interesting to learn just a bit more from him by reading from the blog of an employee, Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple and learned from Jobs on the day-to-day basis. He shares a few Lessons to learn from Steve Jobs. Here are also a few quotes from Jobs to feast on - food for thought.

Now how do other men from the 18th compare? What was business like then? What kind of lives did they have and how did they have success in innovation and in the business world?

James Watt: A Biography

A few things from James Watt.. This great innovator coined the term we use to define how much power something has.. That is.. HORSEPOWER. I've collected just a few words from "flow control" website to learn just a bit about this incredible "innovator" of the 18th century.

"Because James Watt wanted his machines to do more work than a grown man, and because a horse is stronger than a man, he began by establishing what a horse could do. He harnessed a mine draft horse to a support frame and a platform and put some children and men onto the platform. The horse lifted 550 pounds of weight a distance of 10 feet in 10 seconds. So James Watt declared that 550 foot/pounds per second is one “horsepower.”  It is because of James Watt’s scientific effort that electric motors, internal combustion engines, turbines, boilers, jet engines, rocket engines, etc. are rated in horsepower.  
If James Watt had been raised in India, we might have the term “elephant power.” If James had been from Australia, we might rate engines in “kangaroo power.”  Oh yes, James went to his grave with an important part of the formula. He never told anyone what the size of his test horse was. So we don’t know if it was a Shetland pony, a mule, or a Clydesdale." 

  • The electrical unit, the watt, was named in his honor.
  • There are 4 colleges named after him in Scotland, James Watt College in Kilwinning (North Ayrshire Campus) and Greenock (2 in Greenock, Finnart Campus and Waterfront Campus) and a campus in Largs.
  • There are over 50 roads or streets named after him, in the UK.
  • Through Watt’s invention of the first practical steam engine, our modern world eventually moved from a 90% rural basis to a 90% urban basis. 

The path for James Watt was definitely not the same as Steve Jobs. But we can learn from history; we can learn from men from the past and present to find common threads. Another thought- are these businessmen born or bred? I recognize that this article may lack intelligence and/or research, but it is a start. Is there a direct answer for this question? I would argue to say that, although I don't believe they are just born with a future destined for success, there are principles they have learned throughout their lives that indubitably play a crucial role to their success. 

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