Program Note: Carnival of Investing is up at Free Money Finance http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/04/carnival_of_inv.html
Take a look.
I sang the praises of Forbes magazine last week but there is one edition I ignore--The Richest People In The World.
Rich people don't fascinate me because I'm not going to be one and most of them made their money the hard way--they inherited it. Or they made it in Singapore real estate. Boring to me. Also I can't fathom having a billion dollars. It looks so small, a personal fortune of $1.2 billion. That's it? A measly $1.2 billion?
But I decided to experiment this year and see if I could find a billionaire I could like. A guy or gal to sit down with, have a beer, shoot the breeze. AND I found him. James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner.
First, I like inventors. I was fascinated with Thomas Edison as a kid. But having no talent for inventing things I dropped it. Second, Dyson lived off his wife, an art teacher, while he came up with his first invention. That takes real confidence because most men feel this need to plunge in and provide and thus end up in dead end jobs and tons of debt. Old James sat back and took his time while the wife brought home the paycheck. And I bet she doesn't regret it. Third, he looks at the world in kind of a weird way like taking a product virtually unchanged since the Egyptians were building pyramids and making it better.
Because James Dyson's first invention was the wheelbarrow. I mean I like the vacuum cleaner and glad it made it on 'Friends' and 'Will and Grace' but a wheelbarrow. How cool is that? And he got the idea from something that was bothering him which leads us to the old saying 'Necessity is the mother of invention.'
The story is that James and his wife bought an old house and started fixing it up. Been there. And, of course, James got a wheelbarrow. James is probably kind of uncoordinated because a wheelbarrow is a bit tricky but most people get the hang of it pretty quickly and just learn to live with the tire tracks and the occasional over turned load of cement or dirt or rocks. Like I said the thing is basically unchanged since the days of the pharaohs. But not good enough for James. He didn't like that rut stuff or turning over stuff one bit and solved the problem by replacing the rubber wheel with a big plastic ball. And he made the barrow part out of plastic instead of metal so concrete wouldn't stick. And, of course, I said and millions of others said "Why didn't I think of that?"
Well, we didn't and it didn't seem to matter because the world ignored James. Who needs a new wheelbarrow? said the UK equivalent of Home Depot, Lowes and Garden Ridge. Ho hum. This is nothing new, it happens all the time. You guys may be too young for Cabbage Patch dolls but it was a huge hit 25 years ago for some toy company but it wasn't for our toy company because our toy company turned it down. Along with every other toy company in the Western world except for one. And remember that guy at Decca records that turned down the Beatles.
James really has a great wife because then she footed the bill for newpaper ads, really cheesy ads, to sell the wheelbarrow directly to consumers. Either she is great or was on drugs as you can hear the conversation. James says "Let's take all our savings and borrow against the house and borrow from Mom and Dad and put ads in newspapers to sell wheelbarrows." James wife says "Wonderful, dear, even after being turned down by every retail outlet in the British Empire I think it's a great idea." She didn't even ask about how to put a wheelbarrow in the mail. I would have.
And James and Mrs. Dyson made a fortune. Which led to another problem. It seems making wheelbarrows creates a lot dust so James invented, all together now, a vacuum cleaner.
One thing leads to another. If James and the wife hadn't bought the crummy old house and James hadn't gone nuts flipping the wheelbarrow he wouldn't have built a new one and created a lot of dust and then had to invent a vacuum cleaner. And he wouldn't be on Forbes list of The Richest People In The World.
So get out there and start doing stuff and getting one thing to lead to another.
The whole story can be found at http://workingfromhome.allinfoabout.com/dyson_pt1.html