Billionaires thrive on finding efficiencies in cash generating assets. Andrew Carnegie extracted margins by capitalizing on economies of scale in the age of steel. His cash management and margins were the cushion that enabled him to weather the American Civil War, 19th century banking collapse and crises in the early industrialization of
America. Modern American cities, built on steel, are his legacy.
Carnegie’s family moved to America from Scotland when he was 12years old, and Carnegie began working at a local cotton mill in Slabtown, Pittsburgh. Graduating to a messenger boy at the Pittsburgh Telegraph Office, Carnegie came across James Anderson,who was setting up free libraries for “working boys”. Having had no formal education, when Carnegie entered his first ‘library’ of 400 books, he said, “The windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in.” Carnegie credits Anderson for his success, saying, “To him I owe a taste for literature which I would not exchange for all the millions that were ever amassed by man.”