HOW TO GET A PLACE.
You Can Get It—Positions Yawning for Young Men—Any Young Man May Become Rich—Men Who Began at the Bottom and Reached the Top—How A. T. Stewart Got His Start—John Jacob Astor’s Secret of Success—How Stephen Girard’s Drayman Made a Fortune—$100,000 for Being Polite—How One Man’s Error Made Another Man’s Fortune—Secret of the Bon Marché in Paris—How Edison Succeeded—A Sure Way to Rise—How a Young Man Got His Salary Increased $2,000—A Sharp Yankee Peddler.
Young men are often discouraged because the desirable places all seem to be filled. But remember there is always room for the right man. Says a New York millionaire: “I hold that any young man, possessing a good constitution and a fair degree of intelligence, may become rich.” Says another business man: “I have made a personal canvass of a dozen of the largest business houses in five different commercial and professional lines to see to what extent there exist openings for young men.” In only two of the houses approached were the heads of the firms satisfied the positions of trust in those houses were filled by capable men. And in each of these two houses I was told that “of course, if the right sort of a young man came along who could tell us something about our business we did not already know, we should not let him slip through our fingers. Positions can always be created. In four of the houses, positions had been open for six months or more, and the sharpest kind of a lookout kept for possible occupants. These positions commanded salaries all the way from $2,000 to $5,000 a year. In the publishing business, I know of no less than six positions actually yawning for the men to come and fill them—not clerical positions, but positions of executive authority. Young men are desired in these places because of their progressive ideas and capacity to endure work.”
Another prominent man who interviewed the heads of several large firms writes in a recent periodical as follows: “It is not with these firms a question of salary; it is a question of securing the highest skill with the most perfect reliability. This being secured, almost any salary to be named will be cheerfully paid. A characteristic of the business world to-day is that its institutions, empires in themselves, have grown to be too large for the handling of ordinary men. These institutions are multiplying in excess of the number of men whose business skill is broad and large enough to direct and command them. Hence, the really commanding business brain is at an immense premium in the market. A salary of $50,000 a year as president of a railroad or manufacturing company at first sight seems exorbitant; but the payment of such a salary usually means pure business. The right or the wrong man at the head of a great business interest means the making or the unmaking of fortunes for the stockholders. Only a single glance at the industrial world is needed to show that here is room for the advent of genius of the first order. This world, seething like a caldron, is boiling to the brim with questions of the most vexing and menacing kind.”
Look at the men who reached the top of fortune’s ladder, and see under what discouraging circumstances they began. James Fisk, called the Prince of the Erie, rose to that position from a ragged newsboy. Stephen Girard began on nothing, and became the greatest millionaire of his time. Young men, would you scorn to row a boat for a living? Cornelius Vanderbilt plied a boat between Staten Island and New York. Would you tramp the country as a surveyor for a map? Jay Gould began in that way, and forty years later satisfied certain doubters of his financial standing by showing them certificates of stocks worth $80,000,000. Do you fear to have your hands calloused with ax or saw? John W. Mackay, who acquired a fortune of $20,000,000, started in life as a shipwright. Is it beneath your social station to handle butter and eggs? “Lucky” Baldwin, the multi-millionaire, kept a country store and made his first venture by taking his goods overland in a cart to Salt Lake City. Are your fingers too delicate for the broom handle? A. T. Stewart began his business career by sweeping out the store. Do you abhor vile odors? Peter Cooper made $6,000,000 in the glue business.
Tens of thousands are looking for a place. Most of them have had places, but could not keep them. If you follow all the rules below, having obtained a place, you will never need to seek one again. The place will seek you. Employers are in search of the qualities herein to be considered, and they are willing to pay liberally for them. They are qualities that come high everywhere. If you possess them, you can in a short time command your own price. But do not scorn to take the humblest place. Merit, like murder, will out. Be sure you have the winning cards and wait.
- The Secret of Work.—Men will employ you if you mean business. When you find men working, work with them. Lend a hand. Every employer would rather employ a busy man than an idle man. When he sees you working, he will watch you. If he likes you, he will make you an offer. A glazier, being refused work at a place where a church was being erected, put down his kit of tools, picked up the broken pieces of glass which the workmen had thrown away, and, laboring just as if he had been hired to work, fashioned the finest church window in the world, and became rich and famous.
- Nature’s Furrow.—Plow in nature’s furrow. In general, a man is fitted for the thing he likes. Do that which you can do best. What you want to do you are called to do, and what you are called to do you can do. Darwin says that the fittest survive because they have a slight advantage over those which do not survive. Your liking for an occupation is the advantage you have over those who do not like it. Follow the hint, whether it be to publish a paper or peg shoes. A leading merchant in New York found his calling through having loaned money to a friend. He had to take his friend’s store to secure his money, and thus learned his gift for merchandise. The man was A. T. Stewart.
- General Details.—The best general is General Details. In business life, no matter is small enough to be despised. To master an infinite number of small things is to prepare yourself to master great things. When your employers see that you have everything at your fingers’ ends, they will intrust you with larger interests, and greater responsibility means greater pay. John Jacob Astor knew the minutest point about every part of his great business. That was the secret of his success.
- The Prismatic Brain.—Be many-sided, but transparent. Tell your employer where you have failed. Do not try to cover up a fault. Be absolutely honest. You may get along for a time on “shady” lines, but such success is only gained at the expense of ultimate loss. It is absolutely essential that your employer should have the utmost confidence in your integrity. Try by every means to gain that confidence. Court examination. Invite inspection. Remember that his profound belief in you—belief in you when out of business hours as well as in—is your surest stepping-stone to promotion. Character is power. Your success depends as much upon what you are as upon what you know or do. Stephen Girard once trusted his drayman to buy a shipload of tea worth $200,000. He trusted him because he knew his man, and he gave the young man the profits of the transaction, which amounted to $50,000.
- The Bridled Tongue.—Do not cross your employer in any way. Never dispute with him. You may be sure that you are right, but do not say so. You need not be a Democrat or an Episcopalian because your employer is, but if you are wise you will avoid discussing with him questions of politics or religion. Courtesy pays. Ross Winans, of Philadelphia, secured a business that netted him $100,000 a year simply through his politeness to two Russian agents, to whom others in the same, trade had accorded scant courtesy.
- Studying the Stair Above.—Study, not stars, but stairs. Learn all about the position next above you. When you can point out new methods to your employer, advance new ideas, or suggest new channels of trade or lines of work, you are surely on the way to promotion. Only, be sure that your new ideas are practical. There is no more direct road to the confidence of your employer than for him to see that you understand any part of his affairs better than he does himself. Employ your spare moments in studying the business. While the other clerks are joking, do you be learning. While the students at the boarding-house in Andover were chaffing each other during the wait for breakfast, Joseph Cook would turn to a big dictionary in one corner of the room and look out a word. He climbed many stairs above them.
- The Missing Factor.—Your employers are wrestling with a question. They are uncertain whether to invest or not. They are doubtful about the character or standing of some man with whom they are or may become heavily involved. It will be worth thousands to you if you can procure any scrap of information that will help to set them right. A young clerk who discovered an error in Bradstreet’s was soon admitted to partnership in his employer’s firm.
- The Magnifying Glass.—Make the most of your present position. Wear magnifying glasses. Exalt the importance of every item. Let not the smallest thing be done in a slipshod way. If you are answering letters for the firm, answer them briefly but completely. Remember that brevity is not brusqueness. If you are waiting on customers, treat the small customer just as courteously as the large one. You may be sure that your employer knows the market value of politeness. In the Bon Marché in Paris, the employers determined that something must be done more than was done in other stores so that every visitor would remember the place with pleasure and come again. The result was the most exquisite politeness ever seen in a mercantile establishment, and it has developed the largest business of its kind in the world.
- The Microscopic Eye.—The microscope shows a hundred things the naked eye cannot see. Endeavor to see what others fail to see—new possibilities of sales, new means of profit, new methods of doing things. It was by steadily looking at a thing until he saw what was not apparent to the superficial view that Thomas Edison became the greatest electrician of the world.
- Scoring a Point When Off Duty.—Do something for your employer when you are out of the shop or store. You may be sure that he will appreciate it. It is a fallacy that he has no claim on you when off duty. Do not give him the idea that you have no interest in the business except to get your salary, and no time to spare him except what you are paid for. Do not watch the clock; do not filch a few moments at the beginning or end of the day’s work, and do not ask leave of absence except when absolutely necessary. Do overwork and unpaid-for work, and when you see a point in favor of your firm, fasten to it. Become essential to the place, and you will rise in the place. “I can’t spare you,” said the publisher of a New York magazine to his advertising agent when another publisher offered him an increase of $1,000. “Let’s see—you are getting $5,000 now; I’ll make it $7,000.”
- The Study of Men.—This is the very key to success. The proper study of mankind is man. The greatest college on earth is the business world. The man who can sell the most goods is the one who knows the weaknesses of human nature, and how to avail himself of them. Your best diploma is a big bill of sale. Sell something to everybody—what the customer wants if you have it; if not, what he doesn’t want; but at any rate, sell him something. It is related of a Yankee book-peddler that he sold three copies of the same book to a family in one day—to the husband in the store, to the wife who was calling at a neighbor’s, and, to the daughter at home. And not one of the family wanted the book.
Following the above lines, and adding thereto good health and steady habits, you cannot fail to be promoted and to rise to the highest position of responsibility, if not even to actual partnership in the firm. These are the qualities that proprietors are yearning for—nay, actually groaning for, but which are hard to find in the average man. Employers are keeping the sharpest kind of a watch for the right man. It is stated on the best of authority that there are a thousand business firms in New York and vicinity each having one or more $5,000 positions awaiting the men who can fill them. If you have the right qualities or will acquire them, at least a thousand great firms want your services, and posts of responsibility with almost unlimited salary await your hand or brain.
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