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I was visiting the home of a famous manufacturer recently and he took me out to his farm. He showed me his cattle. Above the head of each heifer and each cow was the pedigree. The most careful record was kept of every animal. He had a blue-print in his library at home of every one of those animals. Yet when we began later to talk about the labour problem in his own plant and I asked him how many of his people he knew personally, he told me,--I quote his words:
"Why, they are all alike to me, Mr. Babson. I don't know one from the other."
Later in the evening--it was during the Christmas vacation--a young fellow drove up to the house in a fancy automobile, came in and asked for this manufacturer's only daughter in order to take her to a party. I didn't like the looks of the fellow very well. After they had gone out, I said to the father:
"Who is that chap?"
The father replied: "I don't know; some friend of Mary's."
The father had every one of his cows blue-printed, but he didn't know the name of the man who came to get his daughter and who didn't deliver her until two o'clock the next morning! That man was neglecting the human soul, both in his factory and in his home.
I repeat that we have gone crazy over structures above ground. We are absolutely forgetting the greatest of our resources,--the great spiritual resource, upon which everything depends. How shall we develop these resources?
Certainly we are not developing this great spiritual resource in the public schools. The educational system was originally founded by the Church to train the children in the fundamentals of righteousness.
Gradually, but constantly, we have drifted away from this goal and to-day the purpose for which our schools were started has been almost entirely lost. In some states it is now a criminal offence for a school superintendent to ask a prospective school teacher what she believes or whether she has any religion whatever! Under these conditions, is it surprising that the spiritual resources of our children are lying dormant?
Much of the prosperity of this nation is due to the family prayers which were once daily held in the homes of our fathers. To a very large extent this custom has gone by. Whatever the arguments pro and con may be, the fact nevertheless remains that such family prayers nurtured and developed these spiritual resources to which the prosperity of the nation is due. The custom of family prayers should be revived along with many other good New England customs which some modern radicals may ridicule, but to which they owe all that they possess.
The ma.s.ses to-day are getting their real education from the daily newspapers. Many of these newspapers have much good material, but the great effort of the daily press is not to make _producers_, but rather to make _consumers_. The policy of the daily press is not to get people to serve, but rather to get them to buy. Not only is the larger portion of the newspapers given up to advertising, but most of this advertising is of non-essentials, if not of luxuries. With this advertising constantly before the people of the country, it is but natural that the material things should seem of greatest importance. To remedy this situation is a great problem to-day facing the Christian business men of this country. What shall we do about it?
The first step is to give more thought and attention to people, and to establish more points of contact. Let us do humanly, individually, man to man, what we are trying to do in a great big way. Another method to develop this human resource is to give people responsibility. Moreover, we must do so if the nation is to be truly prosperous.
BOOST THE OTHER FELLOW
Just as our property is safe only as the other fellow's property is safe, just as our daughter is safe only as the other fellow's daughter is safe, so it also is true that in order to develop the human soul in other men, we have to give those men something.
My little girl has a black cat; about once in four months this cat has kittens. Opposite our place is a man who has an Airedale dog. When that dog comes across the street and that cat has no kittens, the cat immediately "beats it" as fast as she can, with the dog after her. But when that dog comes across the street and that cat has the responsibility of some kittens, she immediately turns on the dog and the _dog_ "beats it" with the cat after him. It is the same dog, the same cat, and the same backyard; but in one instance the cat has no responsibilities and in the other case she has. Responsibilities develop faith, vision, courage, initiative, and other things that make the world go round.
Just as our property is safe, only as the other fellow's property is safe; just as our daughter is safe, only as the other fellow's daughter is safe; so is it also true that, in order to develop the human soul in other men, we have to give those men something. We must give them a chance. We must give them opportunity. We must give them a boost. All of us are simply storage batteries. We get out of life what we put into life. We care for others, not in accordance with what they do for us, but rather in accordance with what we have done for them.
I am quite often asked about investments. Well, there are times, about once in three or four years--during panics, when every one is scared to death--that I invest in stocks. There are other times when I advise the purchase of bonds. The fact is, however, that I have not made my money investing either in stocks or bonds. What money I have made has come from investing in boys and girls, young men and young women.
There is a common belief current to-day that only people with experience are worth while. But I say: Quit looking for the experienced salesmen and trying to make a man out of him; get a _man_, and then make a salesman of him. I have a young man in my business who was delivering trunks for an express company twelve years ago. To-day he is my sales manager and has built our gross from $100,000 to $1,000,000. One of my best experts, a man who is sought for by the leading Chambers of Commerce all over the land, was a carpenter on my garage nine years ago.
Another one of my experts, a man the demand for whose services I cannot supply, never acquired recognition until he was over forty-five years of age. I found him keeping hens at Wellesley Farms! A young lady in my office to whom I pay $200 a week and who is worth, to me, $1,000 a week, I picked up at $4 a week twelve years ago.
Such cases exist everywhere. You men yourselves know them. You look over your own organizations. Who are the men who are really doing things? Are they the men you acquired ready-made from other concerns? No! They are the men that have been taken up and developed. These are the men that have made money for you and have created the business enterprise of which you are the head. Yet when we have reached a point of prestige, and have a big business, we are tempted to say: "I haven't time to develop any more people, I have got to get them already made." This is a big mistake.
I beg my readers--those who have them--to get your foremen together. Say to the partners or the officials of your concern: "Haven't we given too much thought to developing the structure? Aren't we piling too many stories one upon another with too little thought to the foundation?"
Then go out and look over your plant and select a few people in each department to whom you will give a real opportunity. Start in to develop them and thereby strengthen the foundation of the business and the prosperity of the nation.
WHAT TRULY COUNTS
The greatest resources in the world to-day are human resources, not resources of iron, copper and lumber. The great need of the hour is to strengthen this human foundation and you business men are the one group that can do it.
When it comes to the sale of goods, the same principle applies. Eighty per cent. of our sales organizations are devoted to selling to ten per cent. of the population. We have forgotten to consider whether or not goods are needed. We only consider whether or not they are being bought.
We are forgetting to establish new markets, but rather are scrambling over the markets already secured. Tremendous opportunities exist in developing new industries, in creating new communities, in relocating the center of production from one community to another community to match up with the center of consumption.
We have forgotten the latent power in the human soul, in the individual, in the community, in the different parts of the country. We have forgotten those human possibilities upon which all prosperity ultimately depends. I cannot perhaps emphasize this any more than by saying that the foundation of progress is spiritual, not material.
The greatest resources of the world to-day are human resources,--not resources of iron, copper and lumber. The great need of the hour is to strengthen this human foundation and revive in men a desire to produce and a joy in service. Business men are the one group that can do it.
They understand the emotions, understand the importance of the intangible things. They understand how to awaken in people new motives.
So my appeal is not to wait too long to revive man and awaken the soul which is slumbering to-day.
The nation is only a ma.s.s of individuals. The true prosperity of a country depends upon the same qualities as the true prosperity of its people. As religion is necessary for the man, it is also necessary for the nation. As the soul of man needs to be developed, so also does the soul of the nation.
Let me tell one more personal incident. Not long ago I was at my Washington office spending the week. While there a little Western Union messenger girl came in to apply for a position. It was in the afternoon--about half-past five. I was struck with the intelligence of the girl's face and asked her two or three questions. She was tired. I asked her to sit down. I was astonished to hear her story.
She had been born and brought up in the mountains of West Virginia,--many miles from civilization. Her father and mother died when she was four years old. She had been living with an old grandfather and brother. When I began to talk with her I found her to have a most remarkable acquaintance with Emerson, with Th.o.r.eau, with Bernard Shaw and with the old Eastern writers.
I said to her: "How is it that you are delivering telegrams in a khaki suit and a soldier cap?"
She replied: "Because I could get nothing else to do. I lived down there in the mountains just as long as I could. I had to get to the city where I could express myself and develop my finer qualities. When I got to Washington there was nothing that I could do. They asked me if I could typewrite, but I had never seen a typewriter. Finally, after walking the streets for a while, I got a job as a Western Union messenger."
I wrote Mrs. Babson and made arrangements to have the girl come to Wellesley and work for a few months with the Babson Organization. I saw in her certain qualities which, if developed, should make her very useful to someone somewhere. She came to Wellesley. About a month after her arrival I was obliged to leave on a two months' trip and Mrs. Babson invited her up to dine the night before I left. I told her that I was going to speak while away on "America's Undeveloped Resources." After dinner she went to my desk and took her pen and scribbled these lines and said:
"Perhaps during your talk on America's Greatest Undeveloped Resources you will give those men a message from a Western Union girl." These are the lines she wrote. They are by Ella Wheeler Wilc.o.x.
I gave a beggar from my little store of wealth some gold; He spent the shining ore, and came again and yet again, Still cold and hungry, as before.
I gave a thought--and through that thought of mine, He found himself, the man supreme, divine, Fed, clothed and crowned with blessing manifold; And now he begs no more.
The mind of man is a wonderful thing, but unless the soul of man is awakened he must lack faith, power, originality, ambition,--those vital elements which make a man a real producer. I do not say that you can awaken this force in every soul. If you are an employer, perhaps only a few of all your employees can be made to understand. But this much is certain,--in every man or woman in whom you can loose the power of this invisible something, you will mobilize a force, not only for his or her good, but for the good and perhaps the very salvation of your own business.
WHAT FIGURES SHOW
Panics are caused by spiritual causes rather than financial. Prosperity is the result of righteousness rather than of material things.