American Originals

American Originals
American Originals will trace the stories of those who charted their own paths, overcame barriers and achieved a better life for themselves and those around them by embracing personal responsibility, hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The American Dream has been caricatured as wealth accumulation and material success like owning a house or buying a car. This has done a great disservice to the American ethos and American culture. The essence of the dream is earned success, achievement, recognizing opportunity and includes an appreciation for the role of entrepreneurship and the contributions that entrepreneurs have made to society.

By highlighting these success stories, we hope to demonstrate the value that these leaders have created and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. The American Dream and being an American Original is all about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. As Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Leonard Hershiser once said: “Great things can happen to ordinary people who are willing to work hard and never give up.”

Olive Ann Beech took the helm of Beech Aircraft in 1950 when it had a $6.5 million market value. She ran the company for 30 years until she sold it to the electronics and defense giant Raytheon for $800 million ($2.4 billion in today’s dollars). American Originals presents the life story of Olive Ann Beech, from growing up in Kansas to becoming the queen of the aircraft industry.
Conrad Hilton left his hometown of San Antonio, New Mexico at the age of 31 to buy a bank in Texas—oil country. But after Hilton found a bank to purchase in Cisco, the owner raised the price at the last minute. Refusing to buy the bank, Hilton headed to a local, run-down hotel to spend the night. After seeing all of the traffic at the hotel, Hilton inquired about buying it instead. That hotel, The Mobley, would be the first in an expansive business empire.
Today, the Estée Lauder Companies have become among the most important cosmetics companies in the world—against huge odds and well-established competitors. Estée Lauder was a very real person, born to an immigrant hardware store owner and his wife in...
The technologies of today are built upon those of the past, and the superstars of our era would be nothing without the great leaders of the past. We often discuss our favorite “tech” entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon...
From inauspicious beginnings rose one of the great entrepreneurs in American history, a man with unusual dedication and exceptionally high ideals. James Cash Penney, Jr., was born September 16, 1875, near Hamilton, Missouri, to the Reverend James C. Penney...
The third installment of American Originals highlights the amazing story of Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C. J. Walker. She would go from humble beginnings as the daughter of freed slaves to founder of one of the largest hair care and cosmetic companies of the era. Madam C. J. Walker was also a generous philanthropist and used her success to help others overcome adversity and achieve their American Dreams.

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From Hero to Hated: America’s Most Tragic Entrepreneur

Few business leaders or entrepreneurs in American history have done more to enable progress and prosperity than Samuel Insull, a name little known today....