The Richest Man In The World Was A Bookkeeper

I like history books, biographies in particular, and one of the best I’ve ever read—in fact, the best book I’ve read in the last ten years—is called Titan, a biography of John D. Rockefeller.

He was no saint; nor was he a sinner. He was very gray. And that is what makes him interesting—that is what makes everyone interesting, right?

He was ruthless and incredibly charitable at the same time. But that wasn’t why I was thinking about Titan today, (although I do have a portrait of John D. Rockefeller in my office. I told you I really liked that book!).

Getting Things Done

Rockefeller got things done. He was a big thinker, extremely competitive.

Another thing that was particularly interesting to me, was that John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest men in the history of the world, one of the great titans of early industry, started out as a bookkeeper.

Giving Every Dollar A Job

How did he get started? What did he care about? What was most important to that guy? Tracking what he spent.

He basically dominated the oil refining industry; it was in its infancy at the time. It was like the Wild West of business back then. You weren’t even allowed to operate across state lines. And he just dominated. He beat all the other refiners. There were so many start-ups at the time, so much competition. It was cut-throat and he beat them all because he knew what he was spending. He knew how much things cost.

Deep, deep down in his heart of hearts, he was always a bookkeeper. Just tracking the dollars, making sure things balanced, letting the numbers do the talking. That was how he competed. He knew what things cost and he let the numbers tell him where his strategy was and what needed to be adjusted.

Laser Focused on Priorities

He made sure that the numbers lined up with his strategic priorities. And he would go in knowing exactly what he could pay for things, what he could pay for a new refinery, what a barrel of oil cost. It just goes on and on and on. He was a bookkeeper.

I find so much inspiration from him. There is so much value in knowing what things cost, what we are spending, and what our priorities are—and then making sure, always making sure, it’s lined up perfectly with our strategic priorities. This is how you create change and build wealth.

We might not all become tycoons, but we can all eliminate stress and be in control of our money. Do it.