History Channel

7 Wonders of the Industrial World

This BBC series is one of my all-time favorites. The frustrated engineer in me has always enjoyed these types of programs which show how huge engineering problems have been solved. I mention the series because I just watched the episode on the transcontinental railroad for the 5th or 6th time. Not all of the stories take place in the USA but they are all worth watching if you have an interest in this kind of thing.

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The Men Who Built America Course

The excellent new series from the History Channel has generated a lot of interest in The Tycoon Playbook. I started working on the Playbook back in late 2007 with the intention of creating a 400 to 500 page manual on how to buy small businesses. I then quickly decided to make it more interesting by adding in actionable tactics and strategies from the self-made tycoons of the past 160 or so years. This swelled up the course to almost  900 pages of actionable details.

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David Nasaw Talks About Andrew Carnegie

The Men Who Built America: Andrew Carnegie

The Men Who Built America: Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie's biographer David Nasaw appears throughout The Men Who Built America series to comment on his  subject and times. By all accounts, his work Andrew Carnegie is the best biography of the diminutive Scotsman to date. In this 30 minute video Nasaw is interviewed by another prof about the book  and Carnegie. If you have any interest in the tycoon invest the time to watch it as it's well worth it. The two most interesting parts for me were the explanation of what fueled the man's immense ambition and what his thoughts would have been on the recent "You didn't build that" tempest in a teapot during the final months of the 2012 election here in the USA.

Go watch it. I am going to grab a copy of the book as well.

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History Channel's The Men Who Built America: Additional Reading

I have received a number of emails asking for book recommendations for people who are interested in learning more about these men. While biographies are one of my favorite genres I must confess that many of the 900-1000 page books I have manged to work my way through are very dry reading and take a serious commitment to finish. Quite surprisingly, many don't even have any actionable lessons that the reader can implement in his or her own business.

However, there is one book I can recommend for anyone interested in learning more about these tycoons and how they grew their business empires from nothing. The book is also quite an enjoyable read, relatively speaking, because it does offer some insights into their tactics, strategies, and tricks.

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History Channel's The Men Who Built America

I have a few minor quibbles with this otherwise excellent series on the growth strategies of America's greatest tycoons.

Space Aliens on the History Channel

Space Aliens on the History Channel

So far I have seen the first three episodes and will most definitely catch the fourth when it airs next week. This series indicates a possible change in direction for the History Channel. If it truly is returning to serious history, then I welcome the move. All the emphasis of recent years on space aliens was a turn off for me.

My only real criticism of the show is the way they shoe-horned so many celebrities into the first episode for quick sound-bytes. Couldn't Donald Trump use a rest by now?  I would certainly hope so. To be clear, I enjoy hearing from the historians and biographers of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt as they have interesting insights to add. In contrast, I was rather shocked to see Carly Fiorina, one of the very worst CEOs in history, appear for a couple of soundbites in the third episode. This is the woman who single-handedly destroyed a great American company and Silicon Valley icon. I refer to Hewlett-Packard, of course.

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