Alfred Sloan's Way
He invented corporate management, discovered modern marketing, and led General Motors to industrial dominance for half a century. But Alfred P. Sloan portrayed himself as a one-dimensional workaholic. Don’t take him at his word, but learn from his example. Specifically, he questioned conventional wisdom, made his company his first duty, understood that integrity and character matter more than charisma and showmanship, and welcomed disagreement.
He was an undisputed titan of industry. He outsmarted the legendary Henry Ford, invented the modern system of marketing, created the very concept of corporate management, and built General Motors into the world’s most successful industrial enterprise. Sloan was an intensely private man whose deep friendships, flashes of wit, personal generosity, and vast public philanthropy all invite closer inspection--and then defy it. If there are no full-scale biographies of him, that’s the way he wanted it: He burned most of his personal papers, and after he died GM destroyed most of what remained. Childless, formal, and reserved, he had no time for parties, culture, sports, or literature. He was “Mr. Sloan” even to close friends. But fleeting glints of a more human man keep breaking through the gray flannel--and if GM had kept following Sloan’s real principles, it might not have gone bankrupt. Let’s see what we can learn from his story.
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