Captains of industry and The dark side of business

This past week I toured Casa Loma in Toronto. This castle in the middle of a modern city was built by an entrepreneur almost 100 years ago, prior to world war one and the great depression that followed. It is a testament to what can be accomplished with a creative mind and a large amount of money. The original owner Henry Pellatt made his money by being the first to leverage the discovery of electricity, supplying the city with street lighting and by being a creative businessman. By 1901 he was the chairman of 21 companies with interests in mining, insurance, land and electricity.

Henry Pellatt treated his staff with respect, Loved his wife, had a wide variety of interests and was generally an all round great guy. For the sake of discussion lets call this type of person type-1. Unfortunately for every Henry Pellatt, there are groups of other people who don’t want to put in the effort, but want his money and his life style. Lets call those people type-2.

I have met both kinds of people in my career and have witnessed people morph from type-1 to type-2 when they are exposed to the dark side of business. I have been told that I don’t have the right personality type to be captain of industry and I believe that the people who made those remarks believe that the only way to succeed in business is to have many of the traits that make up a type-2 personality.

If that is the case, then these people are right. I have no interest in treating people unfairly in the name of business. I have no interest in living life with a narrow focus and I have no tools to protect myself from type-2 people. I am slowing learning to recognize type-2 people and delete them from my group of friends but they are good at hiding and only showing themselves when it is time to strike. A close friend of mine advised me many years ago that type-2 people can smell money and that as soon as you had any they come out of the wood work. That friend is a very  successful businessman and has managed to protect himself while remaining a type-1.

There were a number of things that led to Henry Pellatt’s retirement as a captain of industry, but type-2 people played a roll. The government decided that his companies investments in hydro-electric generation had to be public, the city of Toronto decided that his taxes needed to be increased by 60% and he didn’t have the cash reserves to survive a war and subsequent recession. It was clear when I toured his home that he was a man ahead of his time and I found myself wishing that I could go back in time to meet him.

Many of the ideas that I have had about my ideal home were captured in his home over a hundred years ago.

I guess my message with this post is definitely tour Casa Loma in Toronto, read about Henry Pellatt, beware of type-2 people and rise to every challenge. Be bold and achieve greatness.

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One Response to Captains of industry and The dark side of business

  1. Lonnie Collins says:

    I was fortunate to have dinner at Casa Loma several years ago. It is a grand place. I wasn’t aware of the history behind hit. Thanks for enlightening me.

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