Ever since we entered school, our teachers already taught us the importance of literature and how it mirrors parts of the world. Through the different books we read, we are able to grasp an understanding of the varied ideas and phenomena around us. Reading also helps us form our own ideas that we share with the people we interact with every day. But aside from being a mirror of our reality, did you know that books can also serve as a reflection of a person’s identity?
If you want to get to know someone, reading the books written by and about them will definitely be worth your time. In this article, we will explore these in order to know the great man behind the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford.
Who is Henry Ford?
Whether or not you’re an avid fan of the car and automobile industry, there’s no denying that you’ve probably heard of Ford. More specifically, Ford Motor Company, which is one of the world’s largest automotive corporations, was founded more than a hundred years ago by an inspirational man, Henry Ford.
You might be wondering, how exactly did he become inspiring? How is his story different from all the other rich people we read about?
As a young boy, Ford was diligent and reliable as he helped his family by doing farm work. At age 13, after successfully reassembling the pocket watch he received from his father, he discovered his interest in machines. Relying on his own skills and abilities, Ford moved away from home at age 16 to pursue his dreams of inventing a horseless carriage.
Starting off as an apprentice machinist at a shipbuilding firm, Ford proved that he could be so much more as he became an engineer in Detroit Edison Company, and later on promoted to chief engineer. Alongside his growing career, he didn’t lose sight of his long-term plans. Ford carried on developing his plans for an automobile until in 1903, he finally established Ford Motor Company.
With Ford’s dedication and perseverance, it’s not surprising that Ford Motor Company soon grew to become an automotive giant that sold millions of cars all over the world. Meanwhile, Henry Ford, the man behind the company’s success, became known as the American business leader who made a great impact on America’s economy, and more importantly, on the world’s views on infrastructure, technology, and labor issues.
What is Henry Ford Best known for?
Known as the American industrialist who founded the world-renowned Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford gained even more popularity for his 1908 invention of the Model T automobile, which was the first automobile to become affordable and available for the middle-class Americans. Aside from this, Ford is also known for his revolutionary labor policies which offered stable wages and fair working hours to his workers to ensure their loyalty to the company. Ford also wasn’t just a businessman for he was a citizen who had a heart for others. One proof of this is the Ford Foundation which he established to fund grants for research, education, and development.
What are the Best books by Henry Ford?
Best Books by Henry Ford
|1. My Life and Work|
|2. Edison As I Know Him|
|3. Today And Tomorrow|
|4. Quotations of Henry Ford|
|5. My Philosophy of Industry|
RECOMMENDED BOOKS WRITTEN ABOUT HENRY FORD:
|1. The People’s Tycoon|
|2. Edison As I Know Him|
1 – My Life and Work
Published in 1922, My Life and Work is an autobiography written by Henry Ford himself with the help of American journalist Samuel Crowther. In this book, Ford chronicles his story right from his childhood until he grew to become a world-renowned automotive manufacturer. By talking about the significant events and challenges that he went through throughout his journey of reaching his dreams, Ford also gives the readers an insight into his philosophy and beliefs that shaped his success.
Throughout this book, Ford gave emphasis on the four principles that he followed and lived by. First and foremost, he didn’t believe in fearing the future. Instead of being afraid of what lies ahead, Ford and his self-reliant attitude charged on and faced everything that came his way without backing down. Second, he didn’t care about the competition around him. What’s more important was that he’s constantly learning and improving on himself. His third and fourth principles are closely related. Following the third principle that service is more valuable than profit, the fourth principle defines manufacturing as a process of transforming materials into products sold at a fair, affordable price.
More than just providing a summary of events in the life of Henry Ford, My Life and Work is a worthwhile read whether you’re an aspiring businessman looking to follow Ford’s footsteps, or just an ordinary person looking for motivation to keep going further.
Quotes from the book;
““There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail”
“Being greedy for money is the surest way not to get it, but when one serves for the sake of service—for the satisfaction of doing that which one believes to be right—then money abundantly takes care of itself.”
“It ought to be the employer’s ambition as leader to pay than any similar line of business, and it ought to be the workman’s ambition to make it possible”
“As long as we look to legislation to cure poverty or to abolish special privilege we are going to see poverty and special privilege grow.”
“The natural thing to do is to work—to recognize that prosperity and happiness can be obtained only through honest effort.”
“The idea of gas engines was by no means new, but this was the first time that a really serious effort had been made to put them on the market. They were received with interest rather than enthusiasm and I do not recall any one who thought that the internal combustion engine could ever have more than a limited use. All the wise people demonstrated conclusively that the engine could not compete with steam. They never thought that it might carve out a career for itself. That is the way with wise people–they are so wise and practical that they always know to a dot just why something cannot be done; they always know the limitations. That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work.”
“It is not usual to speak of an employee as a partner, and yet what else is he?”
“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.”
“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one…”
2 – Edison as I Know Him
If you thought being friends with the people you idolize is something that can only happen in your dreams, then you thought wrong. Written by Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther, Edison as I Know Him tells the story of how Thomas Edison, Ford’s boyhood idol who inspired and encouraged him to continue planning and developing, would later on become one of his treasured friends as an adult.
Even though their close relationship might have colored Ford’s storytelling with bias, the book still provides an accurate and inspiring account that allows us to take a glimpse into the character of Edison as an influential man and inventor. Reading Ford and Crowther’s Edison as I Know Him will surely not be a waste of your time as it will be both an informational and inspirational experience.
3 – Today and Tomorrow
As a businessman, Henry Ford was very knowledgeable about business and automobiles, and he proved this through another work he has written with the help of Samuel Crowther, Today and Tomorrow. This 1926 classic is different from the aforementioned books that followed Ford’s storytelling that is quite easy to read. Instead, a significant part of this book focused on providing the readers with a technical account of the different processes and developments under Ford Motor Company. Aside from the detailed information regarding the creation of the affordable and efficient Model T, Ford’s insights towards labor policies are also worth taking note of. Meanwhile, the rest of the book recounted his reflections on the nature of business and how it should not focus on earning profit but on providing service as a valuable part of our society.
Due to Ford’s technical style of writing, this book is recommended for anyone interested in learning more about Henry Ford and the history of automotive manufacturing. However, even though it might not be as readable as his other books, the concepts and ideas Ford presented here went on to inspire many people such as Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo who developed Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing. Staying true to its name, Today and Tomorrow remains relevant today almost a century later and will continue to be relevant in the coming years.
4 – Quotations of Henry Ford
First published in 2005 under Applewood Books, Quotations of Henry Ford is part of the Quotations of Great Americans series. Through this compilation of quotes, the readers are given the opportunity to explore the mind of the man behind the world-famous automotive manufacturing company, Ford Motor Company.
Through his words that have been quoted by thousands of people on different occasions, Henry Ford continues to inspire others to strive harder in reaching their dreams and to have a more positive outlook towards life. Compiled together in a small, compact book that anyone can bring and read anywhere, Ford’s wisdom successfully reaches out to many people that come from all walks of life in different corners of the world. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for your book-loving friends and relatives, Quotations of Henry Ford might just be it.
Quotes from the book;
“One of the greatest obstables to a man’s advancement is disontent.”
“The conflict between the generations is as old as the natural consequence of human progress. Those who are coming on behind us are not our children in the sense that we have created them and defined their limitations; they are rather a new race, different from us in their equipment and outlook – quite likely to be much better than we are.”
“Because a thing is useful is no reason why it should be ugly.”
“When business becomes so big that its bigness is a tax upon the community, instead of a service to the community, the decreasing patronage of the people becomes and effective check.”
“Business grows big through the service it renders, not through any ‘control’ that it exercises over materials, money or people.”
“Competition whose motive is merely to compete, to drive some other fellow out, never carries very far. The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time. Businesses that grow by development and improvement do not die.”
5 – My Philosophy of Industry And Moving Forward
In My Philosophy of Industry, which began as a series of authorized interviews between Henry Ford and Fay Leone Faurote, Ford takes his readers along to an exciting journey of understanding his philosophy in life and business. Exploring his ideas on different topics such as industry, technology, politics, and the integral role of business in society, this book opens the door to the spectacular mind of one of America’s greatest automotive manufacturers. Throughout this short book, Ford also shares his insights regarding the industrial revolution. For him, it’s important that, as citizens of the world, we must constantly innovate and find ways to solve the new problems that our society faces.
Recommended Books Written About Henry Ford
1 – The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century – Steven Watts
Even though numerous books have already been written about Henry Ford, his life, and his genius, Steven Watts is still able to provide fresh insights in his book entitled, The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century. By recounting personal accounts about Henry Ford’s life, Watts gives us a balanced account of who Henry Ford truly is.
For instance, one focal point of Watts’ book is on the charitable side of Henry Ford who came up with the “Five Dollars a Day” labor policy, which is twice the average wage at that time. Ford also had other efforts and initiatives to help his workers and in general, the public. However, Watts noted how Ford’s belief in his own capabilities sometimes went to his head on several occasions, which caused some miscalculated decisions for his company.
Watts’ book also shares other lesser-known anecdotes that show more sides to the character of Henry Ford. An example of this is the story about how Henry Ford preferred Harry Bennett, one of his executives, over his own son Edsel because Bennett was a loyal follower and Edsel was just not talented enough for him.
Watts’ The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century is not just like any other biography written about the world-renowned automotive manufacturer. Instead of only saying what has been already said multiple times, Watts opens the readers’ eyes to new perspectives from which we can understand better the genius behind Ford Motor Company.
2 – Young Henry Ford: A Picture History of the First Forty Years – Sidney Olson
Just like Watts’ book, Sidney Olson’s Young Henry Ford: A Picture History of the First Forty Years welcomes the readers to personal accounts that help create an accurate picture of the imperfect character of Henry Ford. As mentioned in its title, this book focuses on Ford’s childhood years up to the beginning of the successful journey of Ford Motor Company.
As an illustrated account containing primary sources such as letters, diaries, photographs, and other legal documents, Olson’s book stands out among the numerous books written about Ford. As someone who used to work for Ford Motor Company’s public relations, Olson had the advantage of knowing most about Ford. By looking through all the available documents, Olson was able to curate and create an extensive view into the complex history of Henry Ford’s life.
More than just being informative, the illustrated nature of Olson’s book is also an enjoyable experience that successfully transports the readers to the colorful past of Henry Ford, the man who strived hard to create change in this world.
In the modern world where information can easily be accessed at the touch of one click, it’s important that we get reminded of the importance of literature and reading books. Reading about someone’s life isn’t as boring as it sounds. Aside from being able to get to know more about their personality and character, reading the books written by and about them is also a way for you to learn new concepts and ideas that you can apply in your own lives.
Henry Ford’s life teaches you that learning and improving on yourself is a constant process. If you want to be successful in reaching your dreams just like Ford, you must first believe in yourself. Believing in yourself might sound trivial but as Ford did, if you have enough determination that you can succeed, then nothing can ever stop you from doing so.