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Out of Our Minds
Sunday, May 29, 2005 1:12 PM
A Near Miss
Anita Sharpe on Business

Often, when we think we desperately need something -- money for a business, a new job, etc. -- it can be hard to understand that not getting it might be the best thing that ever happened.

An example: when Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were trying to launch Home Depot, they needed $2 million to get the retailer off the ground -- and it's never easy getting radically new concepts funded. It appeared that outspoken Texas billionaire Ross Perot would put up the money in exchange for 70% of the company, according to a story in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But when Marcus and Blank met with Perot to talk about the details, Perot didn't crack a smile at any of their jokes and told them that no one in any of his companies was allowed to sport facial hair (Blank had a mustache.) Then, he told Marcus he would have to trade in his four-year-old Cadillac for a Chevrolet. 'My people don't drive Cadillacs,' Perot said.

Needless to say, Marcus and Blank looked elsewhere for their start-up capital. In retrospect, had that deal worked out, it's hard to imagine that such a humorless, clean-shaven corporate culture could have revolutionized the retailing business or anything else.

1 comment

Jodee Bock - 5/29/2005 1:41:55 PM
This is a great example of 'old school' thinking which has been very successful for certain people at certain times in our lives, but how without innovation and courage, we would never get new technologies, new ideas, and new innovations. Yes, the money is tempting, and if we sell our soul for the money, we often end up with soulless corporations. After all, the word 'corporation' comes from the root corpus, or body, which doesn't have any mention of soul or heart.

Home Depot is a great inspiration for us, and shows us that there is always more than one answer to the creation of a new idea.


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