Episode #63 - Entrepreneur Heaven - October 2015

On this show, Ed and I profiled four entrepreneurs:

  1. George Eastman        
  2. James Cash Penney
  3. The Wright Brothers
  4. Anita Roddick

George Eastman

Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) was an American innovator and entrepreneur who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and popularized the use of roll film, helping to bring photography to the mainstream.

He was a major philanthropist, establishing the Eastman School of Music, and schools of dentistry and medicine at the University of Rochester and in London.  

1976 Kodak = 90% of all film sold in USA, 85% of all cameras. The irony is Kodak invented digital camera!

January 2012 Kodak filed bankruptcy.

Make the Camera as Convenient as the Pencil, 1920 Essay

“You press the button and we do the rest.”

“What we have made an advertised and sold has always been the embodiment of an idea rather than a piece of photographic apparatus.”

He was a pessimist at heart: “Tell me the worst you know,” his approach to getting at problems.

He liked the letter K, strong, incisive. Start and end with K: Kodak.

First Kodak on market July, 1888—10 years after start of business.

100 Exposures, 2.5” picture diameter, $25 = $700 today. New roll = $10, but you had to develop pictures with Kodak.

Eastman Kodak lost major antitrust suit: “he did not understand the antitrust laws and did not know anyone who did.”

He did believe business was war, but no trace of cruelty (unlike Charles Revson).

1925, final year of active engagement, told employees:

“What we do in our working hours determines what we have in the world. What we do in our play hours determines what we are.

In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain caused by a disorder affecting his spine.

On March 14, 1932, Eastman shot himself in the heart, leaving a note which read, "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?"

James Cash Penney

James Cash "J.C." Penney, Jr. (September 16, 1875 – February 12, 1971) 1902, founded the J. C. Penney stores.

First venture: butcher shop failed.

He refused to supply meat to hotels that sold liquor.

Penney’s father was a Primitive Baptist preacher, Missouri farmer with 12 children.

Insisted his employees never touch tobacco/alcohol.

Why a Buyer’s Market Hasn’t Changed Our Plans, 1921 essay

Store managers had to own 1/3 of the store.

In 1918, he personally interviewed 5,000, hired 100

Centralized bookkeeping, cash receipts @ Mother Store. Easier to teach a man merchandising than finance

After the 1929 stock crash, Penney lost virtually all his personal wealth, and borrowed against his life insurance policies to help the company meet its payroll.

The financial setbacks took a toll on his health. Penney checked himself into the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he was treated.

In 1940, during a visit to a store in Des Moines, Iowa, he trained a young Sam Walton on how to wrap packages with a minimal amount of paper and ribbon.

He remained as chairman of the board until 1946, and after that as honorary chairman until his death in 1971.

The Wright Brothers


  • Orville: August 19, 1871, Dayton, Ohio
  • Wilbur: April 16, 1867, Millville, Indiana


  • Orville: January 30, 1948 (aged 76), Dayton
  • Wilbur: May 30, 1912 (aged 45), Dayton

Education: Orville 3 years high school; Wilbur 4 years

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough. This is a fantastic, short volume on their lives, extremely well-written.

Fascination started with toy helicopter brought home by father, Bishop Milton Wright.

Orville was more cheerful, optimistic, mechanical ingenuity.

Lifelong bachelors, Republicans. Two older brothers married, had families.

Spring 1893 opened Wright Cycle Exchange, earned $2-3K/year ($55K today).

Answer to inquiry from Wilbur to US Weather Bureau in Washington, DC, about prevailing winds around country: Outer banks of North Carolina, Kitty Hawk, 700 miles from Dayton.

December 17, 1903: flipped a coin to see who’d fly. Wilbur won. Four flights that day.

May 1912 Wilbur typhoid fever, died May 30 at 45.

Orville flew 1910 at 80MPH, had to give up flying in 1918.

July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong carried small swatch of the muslin from a wing of the 1903 Flyer.

“The best dividends on the labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power.”

Anita Roddick

23 October 1942 – 10 September 2007

Founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing natural beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism.

Ron read Body and Soul, 1991, on Paul Dunn’s recommendation.

The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries.

In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to long-standing hepatitis C.

By 2004, the Body Shop had 1980 stores, serving over 77 million customers throughout the world. It was voted the second most trusted brand in the United Kingdom, and 28th top brand in the world.

On 17 March 2006, L'Oréal purchased Body Shop for £652 million. This caused controversy, because L'Oréal is involved in animal testing.

Four-Letter Words! (essay), 1998

Love, give, care, feel, hope, fair, soul, and true all found in my work (my all-time favorite word).

We can bring our heart to work.

For me, the workplace is an incubator for the human spirit.

Enthusiasm cannot be managed; it cannot be taught.

Sign above her office door: “Department of the Future”

Allowed ½ day per month for community service.

Merged politics and business—activism must be incorporated.


If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.
If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.
I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community. I want something not just to invest in. I want something to believe in.