While the big names digested Schwab’s speech and the opportunity he presented, the leaders, Schwab and J.P. Morgan, began to plan the next moves.
“It was not long coming. It took Morgan about one week to digest the feast of reason Schwab had placed before him. When he had assured himself that no financial indigestion was to result, he sent for Schwab-and found that young man rather coy. Mr. Carnegie, Schwab indicated, might not like it if he found his trusted company president had been flirting with the Emperor of Wall Street, the Street upon which Carnegie was resolved never to tread. Then it was suggested by John W. Gates the go-between, that if Schwab ‘happened’ to be in the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, J. P. Morgan might also ‘happen’ to be there. When Schwab arrived, however, Morgan was inconveniently ill at his New York home, and so, on the elder man’s pressing invitation, Schwab went to New York and presented himself at the door of the financier’s library.
“Now certain economic historians have professed the belief that from the beginning to the end of the drama, the stage was set by Andrew Carnegie—that the dinner to Schwab, the famous speech, the Sunday night conference between Schwab and the Money King, were events arranged by the canny Scot. The truth is exactly the opposite. When Schwab was called in to consummate the deal, he didn’t even know whether ‘the little boss,’ as Andrew was called, would so much as listen to an offer to sell, particularly to a group of men whom Andrew regarded as being endowed with something less than holiness. But Schwab did take into the conference with him, in his own handwriting, six sheets of copper-plate figures, representing to his mind the physical worth and the potential earning capacity of every steel company he regarded as an essential star in the new metal firmament.
A Ponderous Future
“Four men pondered over these figures all night. The chief, of course, was Morgan, steadfast in his belief in the Divine Right of Money. With him was his aristocratic partner, Robert Bacon, a scholar and a gentleman. The third was John W. Gates whom Morgan scorned as a gambler and used as a tool. The fourth was Schwab, who knew more about the processes of making and selling steel than any whole group of men then living. Throughout that conference, the Pittsburgher’s figures were never questioned. If he said a company was worth so much, then it was worth that much and no more. He was insistent, too, upon including in the combination only those concerns he nominated. He had conceived a corporation in which there would be no duplication, not even to satisfy the greed of friends who wanted to unload their companies upon the broad Morgan shoulders. Thus he left out, by design, a number of the larger concerns upon which the Walruses and Carpenters of Wall Street had cast hungry eyes.
Schwab’s plan was taking shape, and the opportunity within it becoming fast apparent. That opportunity was underlined by his careful planning and focused intent. His intent was not just to make money, but to do it in an efficient, focused, manner, placing his faith in solid planning, and not letting the hounds of greed undercut the plan he had already taken so far into the realm of possibility. There are some key lessons to be learned here from Schwab, in all the various stages of the telling of the story. What of his story will you take back and apply to your own opportunities and success?
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