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Over a hundred years ago, a young man from the Midwest had a dream to become a partner of the greatest inventor on Earth, Thomas A. Edison. So strong was his desire to form this partnership, Barnes made up his mind that he would relentlessly pursue his goal of becoming a business associate of the famed inventor until he met success. There would be no retreat, and nothing was going to stop him from reaching his goal, the young man pledged to himself.

Barnes could not afford to purchase a train ticket for passenger fare, and he had no special technical skills. Furthermore, he had only meager clothes to wear. But, these obstacles could not stop this determined man from visiting Edison's famous laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey and pursuing his dream.

On a fateful day in 1905, and driven by a desire which transcended poverty and a lack of know-how, Barnes rolled into West Orange on a freight train. He then, poorly dressed and looking more like an outcast than a man of achievement, walked into the famous Edison Laboratory and told the great inventor that he had come to form a partnership with him. Nearby members of Edison's staff were amused by the boldness of the poor-looking man, and they laughed at him hysterically. But, Edison did not laugh. For, what he saw was a determined young man who was prepared to do whatever it would take to help bring new growth to his company.

Thomas Edison sharing a funny story with Edwin C. Barnes (center) and Nelson Durand (right).

Impressed with Barnes' ambition and internal drive, Edison decided to give the poor man a chance of realizing his dream — not as a partner, but rather as a floor sweeper. Barnes wisely accepted Edison's offer, not dejected in the slightest by the job his mentor had in mind for him. The new arrival understood that he was given a chance of a lifetime to show Edison what he could do for him. And, he knew that accepting the inventor's humbling offer would open the door for him to observe how the brilliant man thought. Barnes also understood that Thomas Edison was extending to him a tremendous opportunity to meet his friends and associates, some of the most influential and most powerful people in the world.

Starting with a broom in his hands, Edwin C. Barnes did the best work he possibly could for Edison, and he never once backed down from his goal of establishing a partnership with the world's leader of practical technology. Months went by, and, to the unobserved, nothing special seemed to happen. But, Barnes was learning what made Edison tick, and he was setting the stage to attract opportunities his way.

After working for Edison for nearly two years, Barnes “saw” a golden opportunity, and he seized it with full force. Following many years of preparation, the inventor was ready to commercialize the Edison Dictating Machine, a recorder specifically designed to capture the human voice. Edison's machine, later renamed the Ediphone, recorded “voice letters” on a wax cylinder, and its inventor thought very highly of it. However, when members of Edison's sales force looked over his new machine, most of them doubted that the invention would prove successful commercially, and they expressed little interest in trying to sell it.

Edwin C. Barnes listens intently as Thomas Edison explains the transophone, a new device from the master inventor that features a dictating machine that can be controlled electrically from a typewriter keyboard.

Barnes, in contrast, recognized that Edison's new machine could help thousands of executives across the country by allowing them to dictate at any time, day or night, for later playback. No longer would the executive need to have at his side a stenographer to record his thoughts, Edison's enthusiastic employee envisioned. Barnes also realized that the dictation machine could help business executives save time, accomplish more, and increase profits as a result.

After working out a marketing plan, Barnes approached Edison and urged him to let him sell his dictation machine. Edison, impressed with his employee's desire to sell the new machine and thoroughness of preparation for doing so, readily agreed to his proposition. And, within months Barnes had sold thousands of Edison dictating machines. He also gained a lucrative contract to market and distribute the recording device across America.

So successful was Barnes at selling Edison's dictating machine, he became a multimillionaire at a relatively young age. But, more importantly, Barnes became a man who helped thousands of people across the country benefit from Edison's device. And, it is probable that the true potential of Edison's machine would not have been realized had it not been for the uncanny insight that Barnes fostered during his working years at the famous laboratory complex in West Orange.

Edwin C. Barnes dressed not only to look successful, but to feel successful.

There were many factors, both tangible and intangible, that transcended Edwin C. Barnes from a young man with little money and a rather lame portfolio to one of the most capable and accomplished salespersons Thomas Edison ever knew. However, the remarkable success that Barnes enjoyed can be attributed largely to 12 key habits that he consistently exhibited with full force. They were:

  1. He knew what he wanted to accomplish;
  2. He used the power of imagination to circumvent poverty and other difficulties;
  3. He was willing to start at the “bottom” in order to gain know how and exposure;
  4. He created and seized opportunity;
  5. He maintained a dogged determination to bring his goal to reality;
  6. He worked long hours with concentrated focus for many years to get what he wanted;
  7. He talked relatively little and produced big;
  8. He was not deterred by ridicule, criticism, setback, or obstacles;
  9. He created ideas and made them happen;
  10. In alignment with his goals, he found a way to help other people become more successful;
  11. He made himself invaluable in his work;
  12. He was committed to providing his customers with excellent service.
Direct download: 439-Edwin-C-Barnes.mp3
Category:Entrepreneurs -- posted at: 12:00am UTC