Do you know Thomas Edison? He was one of the greatest and most influential inventors that ever lived. What about Henry Ford? As many know, he was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and father of modern assembly lines used in mass production. In that case, have you heard that they were very close, sharing a lifelong friendship?
As a young man on his father's farm in Dearborn, Henry Ford had followed Thomas Edison's career. Henry took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company, which later became Detroit Edison, and soon worked his way up to chief engineer. In 1896, Ford attended a company-sponsored convention in New York. Edisonwas the guest of honor at the evening's banquet. When Ford was introduced with his achievement of having invented a gas-powered car, Edison asked young Henry Ford a host of questions and when the interview was over,Edisonemphasized his satisfaction by banging his fist down on the table. "Young man," he said, "that's the thing! You have it! Your car is self contained and carries its own power plant."
Years later, Ford, reflecting on their first meeting, said in a newspaper interview, "That bang on the table was worth worlds to me. No man up to then had given me any encouragement. I had hoped that I was headed right. Sometimes I knew that I was, sometimes I only wondered, but here, all at once and out of a clear sky, the greatest inventive genius in the world had given me complete approval. The man who knew most about electricity in the world had said that for the purpose, my gas motor was better than any electric motor could be." (detnews.com)
Have you realized what made their relationship worthwhile? Most of all, the wayEdisoninspired Ford was impressive as he did not spare himself praising the promising young man. There are few people who wouldn’t be happy with praise or encouragement, but when it comes to praising others, we are often reluctant to do whatEdisondid. His reaction could be seen as somewhat exaggerated, but that was the wayEdisonshowed his great concern. What about the attitude of Henry Ford? The inspiration couldn’t have been that worthwhile if Henry Ford had never acceptedEdison’s words of encouragement with a sincere heart. Edisonwas a great inspirer while Ford was a great listener, which made their relationship brighter. Being grateful to his lifelong mentor, Ford askedEdison’s son to keep his father’s last breath in a bottle that is still exhibited in Ford’s museum. This is just one of many episodes, but it helps us guess how deep their friendship was.
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